Limerick refuge director’s concern over rise in domestic abuse

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ADAPT Director of Services Denise Dunne

THE DIRECTOR of a Limerick refuge for women and children suffering domestic abuse has said that Garda figures showing that more than half of all murders last year had a domestic abuse motivation provide a “stark insight”.

This comes as there was a 30 per cent increase in the number of times that Gardaí were called out to the scene of domestic violence during the two years of Covid restrictions in Limerick, according to figures received through a parliamentary question by Aontú leader Peadar Toibín.

This stark statistic from 2021 represents the first time domestic abuse murders have made up a majority (52 per cent) of all reported murders in Ireland.

Denise Dunne, Director of Adapt, told the Limerick Post that “the analysis of domestic, sexual, and gender-based incidents, which was released by An Garda Síochána, provides a stark insight into the prevalence of domestic abuse in this country and the report is very much welcomed by ADAPT Domestic Abuse Services.”

She said too the incidence of women and children presenting to their service has increased over the past number of years.

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“An Garda Síochána have also consistently reported rises in the amounts of incidents that they have attended to since 2019.

“This was particularly highlighted in 2020 when COVID struck and Operation Faoiseamh was implemented by the Gardaí.

“Here in Limerick, we have been working closely with the Gardaí, and, at the end of 2020, Operation Sábháilte was set up as a pilot in Henry Street Garda Station.

“ADAPT worked closely with a team of specialist Gardaí who identified high risk victims of domestic abuse and provided intense support to them.

“This initiative was hugely successful and it is hoped that it will continue into the future with increased resources available to the Gardaí.”

Ms Dunne said that as the implementation of the third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual, and Gender-Based Violence begins,  “the data that this analysis provides us with needs to remain front and centre in reminding us all of the suffering that families are experiencing throughout the length and breadth of Ireland in dealing with this kind of violence within their own homes.”

Speaking about the increase in Garda call-outs to domestic abuse incidents, Limerick Aontú representative Sarah Beasley told the Limerick Post that “every incident of domestic violence is a disaster for the individual and a terrifying experience”.

Quoting the findings from Mr Toibín’s parliamentary question, Ms Beasley said that the figures from Limerick were stark.

“Locally we’ve had a 30 per cent increase. Limerick had 2,524 call outs to domestic violence in 2021 compared to 1,931 in 2019.

“Even more worrying are the provisional numbers for 2022 — 1,623 incidents up to the end of July 2022. This will represent a whopping increase of 48 per cent for 2022 if the trend continues.”

These figures include domestic abuse and violence, breaches of barring orders, protection orders, safety orders, and domestic disputes.