An Taoiseach Enda Kenny launched the development plan for COPE Galway’s new Domestic Violence Refuge on Monday. The occasion was marked with a symbolic tree planting ceremony as a symbol of new beginnings for those women and children experiencing domestic violence.
The new refuge, which will be located at the Sisters of Mercy Convent at 47 Forster Street Galway City, was donated by the sisters on a 99 year lease for the benefit of women and children in Galway City and County.
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said, “Two words that don’t belong together: ‘domestic’ and ‘violence’. When we think ‘domestic’, we think ‘home’. However, an EU survey released in March found that violence against women is pervasive and extensive across the 28 EU States. It highlighted that in Ireland there is a societal resistance to speaking out against domestic violence and I hope that with the launch of this development plan, more women who experience such violence will avail of the support services offered by COPE Galway. I urge the Galway community to help in any way they can and give COPE Galway the vital support that it needs with this project.”
COPE Galway’s Domestic Violence Services at Waterside House is one of the 19 refuges for women and children nationally whose work is reflected in the national figures. It is the only 24 hour refuge in the west region and consequently receives referrals from Galway City, across the three counties of Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, and on occasions from the other regions.
The Waterside House building is not fit for purpose; it consists of six bedsit type accommodation units with the capacity to accommodate six women and fifteen children. These units are no longer suitable and there are no cooking facilities available on site. In addition to its limitations, the capacity of the building is grossly inadequate. In 2013, due to lack of space, the service was unable to accommodate 574 women and children who then had to be offered refuge in other counties for support and safety. Space constraints and site limitations mean that a redevelopment of Waterside House is not viable.
The new premises at 47 Forster Street in Galway City is a spacious building but needs to be redeveloped so as to be fit for purpose.
According to Jacquie Horan, CEO of COPE Galway, “The funding requirement to redevelop this building is €2.5 million. COPE Galway are very appreciative of a Capital Assistance Grant of €1.16m from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government. We are now in the process of submitting planning applications to the local authority and a fundraising campaign has commenced to raise the balance of funds required for the project.”
The new premises offers excellent potential and will allow for both an increase in capacity and significant improvement in the standards of accommodation and facilities. The new facility will more than double existing capacity with nine self-contained one, two and three bedroom accommodation units which can be shared if necessary. The new refuge will also include a childcare unit sufficiently spacious to allow for a range of age groups to be provided for with both indoor and outdoor play areas, and the site will offer enhanced facilities for the Outreach and drop in Service.