‘Angry and annoyed’ at decision to slash women’s refuge funding

Services manager Breda Bell and project leader Geraldien Mullane of Cuan Saor.
Recent funding cuts to a women’s refuge in Clonmel, were made without any consultation, said representatives of Cuan Saor last week, who condemned the ‘totally disrespectful’ decision.

Recent funding cuts to a women’s refuge in Clonmel, were made without any consultation, said representatives of Cuan Saor last week, who condemned the ‘totally disrespectful’ decision.

Addressing members of Clonmel Borough Council, Cuan Saor project leader Geraldine Mullane, services manager Breeda Bell and chairperson Alison Byrne said the Department of the Environment, one of the refuge’s three funding bodies, announced a 7.5% cut in August without warning.

“There is a huge level of annoyance among the board members and staff by the way this cut was decided,” said Ms Mullane.

This brings to 15% the amount cut from Cuan Saor’s budget in the past two years, equating to €42,500, which will impact hugely on service delivery at the refuge, which last year saw 78 women and 91 children admitted. Additionally in 2012, Cuan Saor’s helpline recevied 1,613 calls, and the refuge provided 594 outreach and support sessions.

But the reality of harsh cuts is reflected in the number of women and children who were turned away from the refuge in 2012: 163 and 194 respectively. 
“A staggering number of women and children could not be admitted due to there being no space,” said Ms Mullane. Cuan Saor have been proactively managing the funding deficits over the past two years with staff members taking a 12.5% pay cut, and not receiving incremental increases since 2008. The night shift hourly payment has been replaced by a sleepover allowance. But it is the most vulnerable women and children who will feel the brunt of this latest cut.

Ms Mullane said they were very annoyed at the extreme lack of disrespect shown to them for a number of reasons: the sizes of the cut; the timing - coming out of the last payment for 2013; and the fact that there was no warning or consultation.

Cuan Saor are calling on councillors to lobby on their behalf for the cut to be reversed, or at the least, reduced. They received full support from council members, who echoed their shock and annoyance. It was agreed that a deputation should request a meeting with Minister Phil Hogan.