Victims groups are hugely frustrated that there is no sign of the promised Protective Services Unit which had been due to open in late 2017.
Fianna Fáil TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has twice pressed Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan in the Dáil in recent weeks, however, he has still not given a date for the establishment of the service.
Marie Mulholland, co-ordinator of West Cork Women Against Violence, expressed disappointment and frustration that a date has not been set, given a business plan for the unit had been signed off on by the Garda Commissioner last summer and all other elements are in place. “It’s up to the minister to release the fund to allow us to have the protective services unit,” she said.
The unit would provide a facility away from the Garda station where victims could attend to report crimes and receive support. “It is a very specialised unit because they deal with the most heinous of crimes, domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking, so that needs special support and specialised staff,” said Ms Mulholland.
She said the unit would also link victims with groups like her own as well as Tusla, health services, and other supports depending on what a person needed. A building in Bandon, which could be rented, has already been identified for the new unit.
On Wednesday, Mr Flanagan, in answering Ms Murphy O’Mahony in the Dáil for a second time, said he accepted the unit is an “important issue in the context of domestic violence legislation and the Government’s policy of zero tolerance”. While he said he didn’t have a date for the opening of the centre, he said he would provide details “before nightfall”, however, Mr Murphy O’Mahony did not receive an answer yesterday.