I thank the Deputy for raising the question.
My Department provides funding to a range of organisations, allocated subject to a number of conditions appropriate for public funds. This is applicable to most Departments when they give out funding. These conditions include confirmation of charitable status, tax clearance, audited accounts and so on. In 2020, my Department committed almost €1.9 million to support services for victims of crime, including sexual and gender-based violence. These services provide important information and support to victims of crime, including emotional support, court accompaniment and accompaniment to Garda interviews and sexual assault treatment units. They also provide counselling and referral to other services. I am pleased that I am in a position to increase this funding to €2 million in budget 2021.
Following the outbreak of Covid-19 earlier this year, my Department provided an additional €327,590 to organisations working in the sector to support, adapt and increase their services during the pandemic. While this funding is not necessarily specific to the delivery of their services, it allows them to highlight the services that they provide, to make sure that people know they are there and that this support is available to them. As this was unprecedented and the need was urgent, my Department made funding available to organisations supporting victims, as an exceptional emergency measure. The vast majority, if not all, of the organisations that received additional funding are organisations that had received funding through the Department. They were known to the Department and had gone through the necessary channels already. I am pleased that I have secured an additional €400,000 in budget 2021 to allow for this Covid-specific support to be continued next year.
Organisations working in areas within the remit of my Department are always free to apply for funding and I understand that my officials have offered to meet the specific organisation the Deputy referred to. While each application is considered on its own merits, it should be noted that funding will only be available for projects that support Ireland's values and objectives and are aligned with wider Government policies in that regard.
With regard to prostitution, which the group the Deputy referred to addresses, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 criminalised the purchasing of sex. This position was taken on the basis that prostitution is inherently exploitative of vulnerable persons, mainly women and girls. My Department's approach to prostitution in Ireland is also informed by advice from An Garda Síochána, which is that it is inextricably linked with human trafficking. My Department and I have offered to meet this group. I understand that the offer has not been taken up. The decision is on the basis that, with the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, we have criminalised the purchasing of sex. This is contrary to the views of those who are in the group that the Deputy has mentioned in her question.