'The need is so acute here I felt morally obliged to get involved'

Garda Chief calls for Laois domestic abuse refuge

'The need is so acute here I felt morally obliged to get involved'

Chief Superintendent John Scanlan

The desperate plight of Laois women and children living in homes with abuse has been highlighted to Laois County Council by the Garda Chief and by a frontline worker helping families.

The search continues for a site to build the first ever domestic refuge home for families, as outlined by the manager of the Laois Domestic Abuse Service who supported 400 Laois families last year in crisis.

Marna Carroll said that it is ten years since they highlighted a need for a centre serving the county.

It would be for families staying shortterm, built on a greenfield site, with self contained units, and in Portlaoise.

“We support 100 families a year to access refuge in other counties. It is recommended to have a shelter within 30 minutes from a residence so that is essentially in every county,” Ms Carroll said.

Some people don't want to leave the county so they stay in abusive situations due to the housing crisis.

Garda Chief Superintendant John Scanlan is a director with the service as well as with the Kildare service which has a refuge used by some Laois people.

With Ms Carroll, he gave a joint presentation to county councillors at their May online meeting.

“The need is so acute here I felt morally obliged to get involved. It is not good enough bringing families to Kildare or Bray. Children can't get up and go to their school 100km away. I am grateful to local hoteliers but that is not a good enough place to be,” Chief Supt Scanlan said.

He said that abuse centres do not cause any problems in the communities they are situated.

He also said that councillors may need to approve planning if the building is to be on council land, with the council CEO John Mulholland also working with the services to find a suitable site. The land and construction cost would be paid by the Government.

Last month Cllr Caroline Dwane tabled a motion to the Portlaoise Municipal District meeting about funding shortages for Laois Domestic Abuse Services, and the need for a refuge centre. 

She said that Tyrrell's land bought by Laois County Council on the Stradbally road in Portlaoise, would be "ideal". Read more here. 

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