New women’s refuge to open before Christmas

By Mary Dennehy

FINAL preparations are being put in place to have a new Rathcoole-based women’s refuge open to families in time for Christmas.

Last Friday, a new five-bedroom unit refuge for women and children fleeing domestic violence was officially opened in Rathcoole by Minister Katherine Zappone.

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Minister Katherine Zappone with staff from Saoirse at the opening of Saoirse Women’s Refuge in Rathcoole on Friday

The crisis accommodation is the second refuge now run by Saoirse in South Dublin County, after a refuge was first opened in Tallaght in 2006.

According to Saoirse there is demand for a second refuge in the county, after its Tallaght-based refuge provided emergency accommodation to 72 women and 133 children in 2018.

They also placed 12 women and 16 children in safe houses, supported 186 families through its outreach services and received 2,627 calls to its helpline.

Due to capacity constraints, Saoirse could not accommodate 278 families.

According to Trish Cole, Manager of Saoirse Women’s Refuge: “In light of the 278 families that Saoirse Tallaght could not accommodate in 2018 due to lack of space, this five-bedroom unit will help us reach a substantially larger number of these families in crisis.

“The refuge will be providing 24-hour crisis accommodation and support, a 24-hour helpline and childcare support.

“It will also provide outreach support to an estimated 150 families a year.”

The building in Rathcoole was purchased with the support of South Dublin County Council and the Capital Assistance Scheme, under the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

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Paula, Kay, Trish (Manager) and Alison

The refurbishment works were funded by South Dublin County Council, which has been working with Saoirse since 2017 to open the new refuge.

“The council has been a constant support to us,” Ms Cole said.

“Councillor Louise Dunne [Sinn Féin] first began talks for the council to provide funds for a second refuge in South Dublin and managed to secure a budget of €600,000 for the provision of this refuge.

“Saoirse worked with, the now-retired Billy Coman and Hugh Hogan, to start the process, and negotiations continued with Marguerite Staunton, Marie Kavanagh and Shane O’Flynn to finally secure enough funding to complete refurbishments to the property in Rathcoole in November.”

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Garreth Byrne, Sandra Byrne and Trish Cole

The running and staff costs of the refuge were provided by Túsla, and will provide a team of fully qualified social care practitioners.

Ms Cole told The Echo how staff are currently being inducted in the hope of opening the refuge to families before Christmas.

“As we enter the Christmas season unfortunately many families in our communities will be suffering domestic violence in their homes,” Ms Cole said.

Saoirse Women’s Refuge is open 24/7 over the Christmas period.

Saoirse’s helpline is 4630000.

Check out The Echo on page 58 for more pictures from the official opening.

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