No safe refuge in Laois for women escaping abuse

Laois Domestic Abuse Service needs urgent funding says a local councillor

No safe refuge in Laois for women escaping abuse

By Lynda Kiernan lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie @laoisnews

Laois mothers and their children escaping from abusive partners have no secure refuge centre in Laois, but must go to another county.

While several council houses are set aside for abused mothers and children in Laois, they are at present occupied or under repair.

Laois Domestic Abuse Service says the houses are unsafe because their locations are known, and there is no security staff on site to keep occupants safe.

The service has called for a secure centre in the county.

Cllr Mary Sweeney is on the board of directors, and raised the need for the centre at the June meeting of Laois County Council.

“In Portlaoise we have two 3 bed units, and both have families of one adult and two children. There is one more in Graiguecullen and one in Portarlington that is occupied. Another in Portlaoise is unoccupied due to repairs,” she said.

The existing 'safe houses' are not truly safe.

“Some years ago Laois County Council agreed to keep two houses for Laois Domestic Abuse, but the concept was flawed. They are in units unsupported by security staff. It is very important to keep the occupancies private. Significant resources are important in changing the location of the houses periodically, but the service has no money,” Cllr Sweeney said.

The nearest refuges to Laois are in Kilkenny and Athlone, but Cllr Sweeney notes the difficulty in getting children to school each day.

“There is no question of the need for this. For a woman with children to reach a house in Kilkenny or Athlone, when the need can be at any time of the day or night. For the past 11 years the centre was focused on securing resources, our priority is being open Monday to Friday,” she said.

The office in Portlaoise offers a range of supports to women experiencing abuse in the home. Call 8671100 or email mary@laoisdomesticabuseservice.ie