Laois domestic abuse service 'saves lives'

Charity on 'meagre resources'

Laois service has lowest funding

Christmas is "the worst time of the year for victims"

By Lynda Kiernan lynda.kiernan @laoisnews

Laois Domestic Abuse service is saving women's lives, but is one of the worst funded such services in Ireland, say local councillors.

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said the service has seen “a surge in demand” since last September, yet only has 1.5 staff in its Portlaoise office.

“They meet on average 60 Laois women a month. It is one of the lowest funded in the country, if not the lowest,” she said at the December council meeting, calling for Tusla to boost funds in 2017.

The service got €77,000 in funding for 2016 from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

“They were told to spend just €175 a month on counselling services,” said Cllr Fitzgerald, who is a board member for the charity.

“It is impossible to sustain a county wide service. Laois has one of the highest population growth. It is incredibly difficult to meet demands with these meagre resources,” Cllr Fitzgerald said.

Her motion was seconded by Cllr Caroline Dwane.

“Laois Domestic Abuse has provided an invaluable service to families in Laois for a long time. Families are under huge financial stress. I know so many people who have had to use their services. they have actually saved women's lives in recent years,” she said.

“Their finances have been messed around, they have been getting late payments, at one point it looked like they were going under. This service is vital, it has to be held onto in Laois,” she said.

Christmas is “the worst time of the year for victims”, said Cllr Mary Sweeney.

“It is an incredibly difficult time for families and children. Their work is vital for the safety of lives, they go way beyond,” she said.

“It's frightening, I didn't realise it was as high,” said Cllr Willie Aird, noting that the council has emergency houses for abuse victims.

Call LDAS at (057) 867110 (office hours), or email mary@laoisdomesticabuseservice.ie