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06 Jul 2022

Site announced to build first Laois domestic abuse shelter

Site announced to build first Laois domestic abuse shelter

Domestic abuse. File photo

The first big step in building a domestic abuse safe refuge centre for women and children in Laois has been taken.

Laois Domestic Abuse Service has announced that a site has been found in Laois after two years of searches.

The new centre will provide temporary accommodation for women and children who at the moment are forced to stay living in violent homes or under coercive control, because there is no alterative accommodation. 

It will be for families staying short-term, built on a greenfield site, with self contained units, and in Portlaoise as the town with the largest population. There is no timescale agreed as yet on when the centre will be built and opened. 

Service Director Marna Carroll made the announcement.

"Hearing women’s stories of life during the pandemic has strengthened our determination to progress the refuge development, and to that end we have worked closely with Laois County Council to find a suitable site. We are very pleased to have achieved that, and we are looking forward to the next steps.

“There is an immense relief in reaching this point, and in many ways this was the most difficult part. Finding the right location with adequate space was a challenge, but with the support of Laois County Council and the Department of the Environment we got there.”

“The need for a refuge in Laois was never greater. We are seeing an intensification in the cruelty and control women and children are subjected to. The country has opened up over the past 6 months, but the experience of women and children using our services hasn’t changed a great deal since the height of the pandemic.

She said it has been almost impossible to find accommodation for Laois women and children sincee the pandemic began.

“We have had to focus on crisis work over the past 2 years, to ensure that Laois Domestic Abuse Service can provide the best levels of professional support for women and children to be safe.

"Over that period it became increasingly difficult, and mainly impossible, to find refuge accommodation for Laois women and children. While there have been some welcome initiatives to address the issue of lack of refuge spaces, they are far from ideal, and do not respond to the needs of women and children effectively, meaning women are forced to remain with their abuser.”

“Laois Domestic Abuse Service simply isn’t adequately resourced to respond to the need, and women and children in our community deserve better. The past two years have been like a roller coaster.

“We thank Laois County Council for collaborating with us on this important project, in a meaningful way that will bring real change in our capacity to support women and children subjected to domestic violence. More importantly, it will mean a real difference in the journey to safety, for women and children subjected to violence and abuse in our community.”

“It is every woman’s right to be able to access safe and appropriate domestic violence emergency accommodation, with their children, in their local community.” Marna Carroll said.

Laois Domestic Abuse Service supported 400 women last year living with abuse. See www.laoisdomesticabuseservice.ie

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