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Ending funding for the Rape Crisis Network

Mattie McGrath (ind, Tipperary South) raised on the adjournment the decision of the Health Service Executive to end funding for the Rape Crisis Network and SAFE Ireland, the national network of domestic violence services (Dail Eireann, Debates, 12th May 2011, 279-280).  He outlined their critical work in providing an expert national programme on sexual and domestic violence, in establishing standards for services and providing advice for government.  He especially drew attention to what he called its ‘gold standard’ data collection system and the decision to put it and other services out to another service provider.

Replying for the department, the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Roisin Shortall, explained that the HSE was examining how the needs of victims of domestic and sexual abuse could best be met to ensure value for money, accountability and avoid duplication.  As part of this process, the HSE had proposed changes in funding arrangements, but the minister had instructed the HSE to extend current funding to the Rape Crisis Network and SAFE Ireland to 1st August so that he and his officials could review these proposals.  Neither of them provided direct services, which were provided by 62 other organizations (20 crisis refuges, 27 domestic violence support services and 16 rape crisis centres), at a cost of €19m.  HSE officials had assured the minister that all current funding will stay in this sector of service provision, but it was planned that some would be redirected toward activities identified by the national strategy.  The initiative was not a cost-containment project but sought to ensure value for money, reduce duplication and promote a greater focus on victims.  There was no plan to decrease the financial allocation to support domestic and sexual violence services.  The terms of reference for providers of future projects were agreed between HSE and Cosc and included the capacity and relevant experience of the organizations applying.