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To ask the Minister for Health the way the Health Service Executive proposes to deal with the current crisis in the provision of domestic violence services which has recently resulted in the downgrading of services at Wexford Women’s Refuge; his plans to increase the HSE’s funding for the provision of such services in view of the fact that Ireland currently only provides one third of the EU-recommended refuge places; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

-Mick Wallace

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 26th September, 2013

REPLY

Wexford Women's Refuge is a Limited Company run by a voluntary Board of Management.  While the HSE commission the service of the Wexford women's refuge through a service level agreement, it is the voluntary Board of Management who are legally responsible for any decisions that are made in relation to how the service is delivered.

The reduction in service provision in Wexford Women's Refuge was based on a decision taken by the Board of Management to reduce services for 13 weeks.  The decision is based on ensuring the long term sustainability of the service while working within a realistic budget as the Refuge has had a reduction in HSE funding over the past 5 years similar to other organisations.  The plan will enable the refuge to continue to provide outreach and drop in services to the end of December 2013.  While there is a reduction in service provision it is important to note that there is no reduction in funding from the HSE to the service in 2013 other than 2.5% which is in line with other government cuts.  It is within this context that the voluntary Board of Management has been working in partnership with the staff, Trade Unions and funding agencies to devise a plan that will ensure the long term sustainability and delivery of the service to women and children in Wexford.  The voluntary Board of Management is committed to ensuring that there continues to be a Refuge in Wexford.  They are working in partnership with the other relevant bodies to overcome the immediate challenges and are confident that a Refuge service will continue to be available in Wexford once the current difficulties are addressed.  HSE Children and Families Services are committed to supporting the Board in their efforts to develop this plan in partnership with staff, management and the Local Authority.

The National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence was published in 2010.  It aims to provide a framework for sustainable intervention to prevent and effectively respond to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and is lead by Cosc which is the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence.  In relation to Ireland providing only one third of EU recommended places I would like to refer the Deputy to a COSC publication 'Domestic and Sexual Violence Services in Ireland: Service Provision and Co-ordination' which states "In 2007, the levels of domestic and sexual violence services in Ireland satisfied the criteria established by the Council of Europe" (Page 68, section 3.7).

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