Sexual violence services 'almost totally ignored' in Budget: Safe Ireland

Frontline domestic and sexual violence services were “almost totally ignored” in the budget for the 6th year running, it has been claimed.

Sexual violence services 'almost totally ignored' in Budget: Safe Ireland

Frontline domestic and sexual violence services were “almost totally ignored” in the budget for the 6th year running, it has been claimed.

Safe Ireland said the funding provided was inadequate and that the services were at “breaking point”.

The National Women's Council of Ireland was “disappointed” that funding for frontline domestic and sexual violence services remained “static” given the recent demand for these services.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, provided €25m in funding for the services last year and that included an additional €1.5m.

Ms Zappone said she was ensuring that the same amount of funding (€25m) was made available again next year.

“This funding has supported Tusla in meeting obligations under the Istanbul Convention and has supported the provision of enhanced and sustainable services,” she said.

However, the director of the NWCI, Orla O'Connor said the funding fell far short of what was required.

“Ireland will be unable to meet its requirements under the Istanbul Convention unless there is a significant increase in investment across all of the relevant departments,” she warned.

Chief executive of Safe Ireland, Sharon O'Halloran, said the funding was all the more disappointing given the Government's “heralded “ new Domestic Violence Act that commenced early this year.

Ms O'Halloran also mentioned the Government's “high-profile” ratification of the Istanbul Convention on International Women's Day in March.

Also, the €29m additional budget for Tusla was “completely inadequate” to ensure the investment needed by “an already fragile, creaking and exhausted” domestic violence infrastructure.

“Legislation and ratification of international conventions mean nothing if they are not backed up with proper and essential investment,” said Ms O'Halloran.

Chief executive of the Children's Rights Alliance, Tanya Ward, said the minister's announcement of an additional €54.5m in childcare programmes, with particular focus on supporting lone parents was welcome.

The extra money will increase the annual spend on early learning and care and school-age children programmes to just over €628m next year, a 9.3% increase on the 2019 allocation.

“The fact that there are now specific supports in place that enable lone-parent families to choose the best option for them means that no family will miss out with the introduction of the new National Childcare Scheme,” said Ms Ward.

She said the minister had made a “clear choice” to prioritise effective measures that would reach those most in need of support over a blanket universal increase.

“This gives families extra breathing space, especially those struggling to keep their heads above water with high living costs including housing that haven't been adequately addressed in this year's budget.”

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