Rape victims wait four months for counselling

VICTIMS of rape and sexual abuse are waiting four months for counselling in some parts of the country because of a lack of funding.

In Waterford, up to 22 people are on a waiting list for counselling. It can take two to four months.

In Mayo, up to 20 women are on a waiting list.

In Kilkenny, victims face a three-month wait.

In Cork, an average of 40 survivors wait for six to eight weeks before getting an appointment with a counsellor.

In Tipperary lack of funding is restricting outreach services to a half morning per week.

Referring to the waiting list, Sheila Vereker, manager of the Waterford Rape Crisis Centre (WRCC) said: “We are appalled at having to do this. Our priority is to try and reduce this waiting list.”

Director of the Cork RCC Mary Crilly said lack of funding meant they had no weekend service. Outreach services in Bantry and Mallow are restricted to one day a week. The Mayo Rape Crisis Centre (MRCC) has a limited helpline service because of low staff numbers.

“When a woman finally plucks up courage to ring and gets an answering machine, it is so disheartening,” said staff member Nicci Rowntree. None of the centres refuse help to victims in a crisis.

For counties without their own rape crisis centres, who are dependent on outreach services, access to counsellors is extremely limited. A counsellor from Limerick Rape Crisis Centre (LRCC), travels to Ennis, Co Clare, to provide a service there one-and-a-half days a week.

Galway, which has a rape crisis centre, is without a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU), while Kerry is also without a SATU and victims must travel to Cork.

Yesterday, Labour Health spokesperson Liz McManus tabled a parliamentary question asking Tánaiste and Health Minister Mary Harney why she had not honoured her commitment of extra funding to the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland (RCNI), which has been capped at €12m since 2002.

The Health Service Executive said yesterday it is “working on a national consistent approach to funding the violence against women sector”, to replace “more haphazard” arrangements.

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