Cen­tre for at-risk women shut down

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - Lynne Kelle­her

Cam­paign­ers fight­ing to save a drop-in cen­tre that as­sisted vul­ner­a­ble women have told of their dis­may af­ter the ser­vice was shut down yesterday morn­ing as they were out protest­ing.

The fa­cil­ity in Tralee, Co Kerry, which helped more than 2,500 women last year, of­fered ser­vices for vul­ner­a­ble women in­clud­ing do­mes­tic abuse vic­tims, those deal­ing with cri­sis preg­nan­cies, and women in the town’s di­rect pro­vi­sion cen­tre.

The drop-in cen­tre, which re­ceived fund­ing from the HSE and Tusla, was run by a vol­un­tary board of di­rec­tors.

The cam­paign group Save our Women’s Re­source Cen­tre was set up af­ter it was an­nounced last month that the cen­tre would close on De­cem­ber 6 be­cause its ser­vices were du­pli­cated else­where.

Jan­jua, who set up the cam­paign, said they were protest­ing yesterday morn­ing when they heard the board had shut down the cen­tre, which had been in op­er­a­tion for more than two decades.

“The cen­tre sup­ported women who had ex­pe­ri­enced vi­o­lShahi­dah ence or rape, women with home­less­ness, ben­e­fits, a whole range of is­sues,” said the Kerry-based writer.

“Women have been ab­so­lutely gut­ted by the news of this. It’s an im­mense loss. Last year, 2,500 [women] crossed the thresh­old. There has been such a groundswell of dis­may and anger.

“We had marched [yesterday morn­ing] to the HSE com­mu­nity ser­vice build­ing and protested out­side of it.

“We were go­ing to go down to the women’s cen­tre when we dis­cov­ered the board had been there at 11.30am and taken the keys and the work­ers were gone.”

The HSE said in a state­ment that the clo­sure was “a de­ci­sion solely for the com­pany di­rec­tors”, adding that it was sup­port­ive of the de­ci­sion.

“In this re­gard, the HSE has been ad­vised by Tralee Women’s Fo­rum CLG that they are closing fol­low­ing a re­view of the or­gan­i­sa­tion,” it said. “The HSE would like to ac­knowl­edge and pay trib­ute to the work of Tralee Women’s Re­source Cen­tre over the years.”

Sinn Féin coun­cil­lor Toiréasa Fer­ris said the HSE was one of the ma­jor fun­ders of the cen­tre.

“A num­ber of HSE staff mem­bers are on the vol­un­tary board of di­rec­tors. For the HSE to try and di­vorce them­selves from the de­ci­sion to close the cen­tre is disin­gen­u­ous.”

She claimed the cam­paign couldn’t se­cure a meet­ing with the board of di­rec­tors in re­cent weeks de­spite nu­mer­ous at­tempts.

Pic­ture: Dom­nick Walsh

Shahi­dah Jan­jua protest­ing the clo­sure of the Women’s Re­source Cen­tre in Tralee, Co Kerry.

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