SEVERAL abused women and their children face a return to the home they fled or be forced to enter into homelessness as doubts hang over the future of a refuge centre in Tallaght.
The housing charity, Respond!, issued a warning last week that it cannot continue to fund the Cuan Álainn homeless refuge for women and children fleeing domestic violence.
According to Ned Brennan, chief executive officer, Respond! has bank-rolled the refuge in Tallaght for the past three and half years without any financial support from the State.
“We cannot continue to fully subvent this service, 100 per cent from our own resources, without any State assistance due to the cost burden,” he stated. “We have come to the regrettable decision to close the service in an orderly manner before the end of the year.”
Catering for nine families, Cuan Álainn has supported and housed 71 women and 96 children to date over the last three and a half years at a cost of €350,000 per annum. The charity undertook in 2012 to fund this service for three years but says it can no longer afford to do so and is therefore confronted with the unavoidable decision to close Cuan Álainn.
It is now feared that without this service, women and children may now have to return home to an abusive environment or be forced to enter homelessness. Alternative arrangements are currently underway to arrange accommodation for the women and children concerned, Mr Brennan added.
“The State must take its responsibility seriously and fund services for some of the most vulnerable members of our society,” he said.
The charity has now challenged the Government to make adequate financial provision for the funding of the Cuan Álainn service “which provides a safe haven for some of the most vulnerable and broken women in our society”.
“Respond! asks both Government departments involved to fund this valuable service, as the cost to the State to provide alternatives will, in fact, be more costly,” Mr Brennan stated.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs said they had met with Respond! at their request to discuss the current situation in Cuan Álainn.
“The department has since sought additional information from Respond!, including in relation to the housing association’s financial wellbeing,” a spokesperson stated. “The most recent information provided indicates that Respond!, which is made up of two companies, remains in good financial health.
“The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs hopes that the matter can be satisfactorily resolved, by allowing sufficient time for all avenues to be explored by the relevant parties. This will need to include discussion with other parties, including the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government as it would appear that these families have pressing housing needs.”
Last week the issue was raised in the Dáil by Deputy Seán Crowe with Environment Minister Alan Kelly during a Sinn Féin motion on homelessness and housing.
“As I stand here tonight a women’s refuge for victims of domestic violence in Cuan Álainn Tallaght is set to be closed on December 18,” Deputy Crowe said.
“Cuan Álainn serves a huge catchment area where the need is great and unfortunately growing.
“I am calling on all the Government departments involved to fund this valuable service as the cost to the State to provide alternatives will in the long run be more costly. We need to be opening more of these vital support centres, not closing them.”
Deputy Eamonn Maloney described the situation as “disastrous”.
“Since 2012 Cuan Àlainn has provided a very valuable service in Tallaght for women and children who are victims of all types of domestic violence and abuse,” he said. “ In that time they have provided a safe haven for 71 mothers and 86 children who were forced to leave their own homes through no fault of their own.
“We cannot underestimate the value that is provided by Cuan Àlainn to the community. The taxpayer has a duty to organisations such as Respond! which provide safe havens in the community and are in the frontline of the defence of vulnerable women and children from violence and abuse. The violence and abuse experienced by women in all communities is no respecter of class or status.”