By Suzanne Pender
CAMPAIGNERS have reacted angrily to the news that Co Carlow will not have a women’s refuge by 2024 despite the promises of government TDs.
It was revealed this week in a parliamentary question from deputy Paul Murphy to the minister for justice that the initial phase of additional refuge spaces for 2024 does not include Carlow.
In response, Carlow Women’s Refuge campaigners have sent an open letter to all the local government TDs condemning the recent revelation that Carlow’s Women’s Refuge will likely not happen in 2024 despite multiple commitments over the past year.
The letter has received support from Sinn Féin’s deputy Kathleen Funchion and local opposition councillors Adrienne Wallace, Andy Gladney, John Cassin, Will Paton and Willie Quinn.
The letter directly addresses statements from local Fianna Fáil deputy Jennifer Murnane O’Connor and minister Helen McEntee that a refuge would be in place in Carlow by 2024 and that funding was already in place.
However, campaigners say this is in stark contradiction to a statement made by minister Simon Harris in the Dáil record that “in the initial phase, (government) expects to have delivered 24 places in Wexford, Dundalk and Navan in 2024.”
While the minister acknowledged the government has agreed to prioritise the delivery of 98 refuge spaces in counties across Ireland, including Carlow, news of the delay has come as a shock to campaigners.
“At this point we are totally shocked and angry that Carlow is not being seen as an immediate priority,” said spokeswomen for the women’s refuge campaign, Ger O’Neill.
“In fact, none of the nine counties without a refuge are on the list for the initial phase of additional refuge spaces. This campaign has been raging on since 2016; back then, we were banging on closed doors but have since made this a national priority for the government, only to me met with further indifference now.”
Ms O’Neill added: “Women and children cannot wait. This is an emergency and the response from government has continued to be lacklustre. Last year was the worst year on record for violence against women, while 62% of the requests for refuge went unmet in 2021. We need less lip service and more action, and to help make this a reality we are asking people to sign our online petition on the Facebook page @CWRC.”
Cllr Wallace pointed out that at last November’s council meeting she questioned the progress of the women’s refuge and was told that things were at a design phase, but “it seems in reality nothing has occurred since”.
“We are three months into the New Year and the department has not had any contact with the council whatsoever. This is just not acceptable. We must keep the pressure up and get this government to follow through on its commitments.”