A national organisation against domestic violence has called for the current number of public payphones across the country to be maintained so that women at risk of abuse can use the facilities to call its helpline, writes Joe Leogue of the Irish Examiner.
Women’s Aid warned against the removal of public payphones in its submission to the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), as it said many of those who avail of its services have their own phone use monitored by abusive partners.
“It is vitally important that the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline is as accessible as possible to every woman who may need it in every part of the country,” the organisation wrote.
“We know that some women who call our Helpline sometimes use payphones to make the call. This may be because it is the only private space they have or they have no landline or mobile phone. It may also be that women are afraid of their partner’s behaviour and how he monitors their every move, including what calls she makes,” its submission read.
The submission was one of 21 submissions to ComReg on the topic of payphones, after it sought to review their current usage thresholds.
As the universal service provider of public payphones, Eir is required to maintain payphones and is only permitted to remove such a fixture if it is the focus of antisocial behaviour or if its usage is low — averaging at less than one minute a day over a six-month period.
Women’s Aid said that its freephone line “provides vital support and information to individual callers and is a gateway to our other services and local refuges and support services around the country” and that “the number of payphones in the country should not be reduced as for some women this may be their only access point to the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline.”
Eir has notified ComReg of its intention to remove 355 payphones in the coming months, leaving about 500 public payphones left.
After its consultation, ComReg said it is going to maintain the usage thresholds.