As the Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Equality, Immigration and Integration, I feel it is very clear that greater resources are needed to deal with the increase in contacts made to the Rape Crisis Centre. Earlier in the week the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre published its annual report which revealed that almost 14,000 people contacted the organisation in 2018.
The Rape Crisis Centre have articulated very clearly that their service is under immense pressure. While the organisation acknowledges an increase in Government funding, it is not enough to meet the increasing demand.
The increase in demand for services is in one way, a step forward. I am glad that these people no longer feel in the shadows, that they are coming forward and seeking help, but we need to ensure that when they do, they will be able to access every support available.
Levels of sexual abuse and sexual violence in Ireland are way too high and there are nowhere near enough services available to meet the demand. A third of those contacting the Rape Crisis helpline were from outside Dublin where the services are very sparse.
Teach Tearmainn in Kildare are doing all they can with resources and there is continued increase in demand for their services across the county. Many women who contact the services are subjected to domestic and sexual violence, yet Ireland has less than a third of the number of domestic violence refuges required for victims who do come forward and ask for help. Nine counties do not have any refuges whatsoever.
A lack of information in regard to sexual abuse and violence is hampering efforts to target resources appropriately. We need to see a cross departmental approach with the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Department of Social Protection tying in together to offer the greatest spectrum of support to victims.