Galway’s homeless are homeless longer than they should be, says COPE Galway
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Read the full story in the City Tribune here
5 year search for new Domestic Violence Refuge looks to be over
COPE Galway and the Sisters of Mercy Western Province have announced that the Sisters of Mercy Convent at 47 Forster St. could become the new location for Waterside House – the Domestic Violence Refuge operated and managed by COPE Galway. Earlier this year, COPE Galway approached the Sisters of Mercy about the site and the Sisters have generously responded by donating the property to COPE Galway on a 99 year lease for the benefit of women and children in Galway city and county.
Speaking about the announcement, Jacquie Horan, CEO of COPE Galway said, “I can’t express how delighted and relieved I am about this opportunity. Our existing refuge, Waterside House, has been unfit for purpose for many years. The building comprises ‘bedsit’ style accommodation which forces families to live in one large room without access to basic cooking facilities during their stay. Although the current refuge offers safety and security to women and children escaping in an emergency situation, and this is obviously of the utmost importance, this type of living arrangement is totally unfit for purpose and families in a state of distress deserve better.”
“We approached the Sisters of Mercy as we believed the location of the convent site, the security aspects and the potential to renovate all pointed to its suitability as a possible alternative to Waterside House. The synergy between the history of the site and the current reality for Waterside House clients, and the fact that the Rape Crisis Centre has been on the site for some time already also led us to believe that the convent site offered real potential.”
In addition to the structural issues and limitations of the Waterside House building, the capacity of the current refuge is also inadequate. During 2012, Waterside House accommodated 100 women and their families but did not have sufficient capacity to accommodate a further 200 referrals of women and families, who had to be referred elsewhere for safety and support.
“Finding a suitable property has been the absolute number one priority for the Board of COPE Galway for a number of years now” added John Concannon, Chairman of COPE Galway. “Such a facility naturally has some very specific requirements, so despite the number of vacant properties available, the majority were not suitable for issues of security or other reasons. The Board joins with me in expressing our sincere gratitude to the Sisters of Mercy for donating this wonderful property. I also wish to thank all those who have helped us in our search for a suitable facility over the past number of years and I now invite the wider community in Galway to help us secure the resources needed to redevelop this site. Financing the project will be a challenge, but we believe it is an exciting and positive challenge for Galway and we will be inviting everyone to join us in converting this opportunity into a reality.”
COPE Galway has only very recently gained access to the property and will conduct a detailed examination of the site to ascertain its long term suitability as a domestic violence refuge, both in terms of size and design, and the costs involved in turning the building into a safe home for women and children suffering from domestic violence.
“Following our 5 year search, we are delighted to be at this point in the process, although we know that we still have a long and expensive road ahead of us. We will be undertaking a major drive to raise the necessary funds and in kind donations and will be appealing to the community of Galway to help us create that ‘home’ for some of the most vulnerable women and children in our community”, concluded Jacquie Horan.
‘Read our letter urging Ireland to sign the Council of Europe Convention and make women and girls safe from violence and abuse’
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Minister for Justice and Equality
Alan Shatter TD
94 St. Stephen’s Green
Insert date here
Dear Minister Shatter,
As you know, in Istanbul on 10-11 May 2011 the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers adopted the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. On 14 March 2012 Turkey became the first member state of the Council of Europe to ratify the Convention, and to date there are three ratifications. On 22 January 2013, Croatia became the 24th member state to sign the Convention. We urge you to ensure that Ireland soon joins those member states that have signed the Convention, and takes the necessary measures to ensure its swift ratification.
The adoption of this Convention is a major step towards successfully combating violence against women in Europe. Signing and ratifying this Convention is an opportunity for member states to reconfirm their commitment to this endeavour. Following the opening of the Convention for signature on the 11 May 2011 members of the National Women’s Council of Ireland wrote to the Government calling on Ireland to sign and ratify it, and we repeat this call again now.
The Convention establishes a framework for governments to ensure robust action to prevent, investigate and prosecute, and ultimately, eliminate violence against women. Importantly, it provides for a monitoring mechanism to facilitate the sharing of good practices in addressing violence against women. It will also provide a solid basis for
ensuring sustained improvements in securing women’s equality before the law in Europe, through collection of data and development of integrated public policies in education, law enforcement, social services and health care.
The Convention also contains provisions on promising practices in risk assessments and prevention measures in situations of violence, legal and practical protection measures, and services for women and girls who are survivors of violence.
We believe that as Ireland holds the EU Presidency of the Council of the European Union and given its recent election to the United Nations Human Rights Council - where it pledged that it would “play a full role in efforts to combat all forms of discrimination and to promote gender equality” - the time is ideal for Ireland to sign and ratify this Convention and thereby show its leadership on and commitment to women’s and girls’ human rights issues nationally, in Europe and globally.
We welcome the fact that in March 2012, at the 19th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Ireland accepted the recommendation put forward by Austria at Ireland’s Universal Periodic Review in October 2011 to sign the Convention, stating: “Ireland can accept in principle the terms of the Convention.” (Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Ireland, Addendum, A/HRC/19/9/Add.1) It further stated: “The detailed provisions of the Convention and the administrative and legislative arrangements that would be necessary to allow signature of the Convention by Ireland are currently being examined.” Given that almost a year has elapsed since this announcement, we encourage you to promote signature of this Convention before Ireland’s EU presidency ends, and then work towards expeditious ratification.
We further note that the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, taking place from 3-15 March 2013 has set as its priority theme the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. We believe that this would provide a key opportunity for Ireland to announce that it has signed, or least when it will sign, the Convention, sending a strong signal, at an international platform, of Ireland’s commitment to women and girls’ human rights.
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COPE Galway is a local Galway charity that provides services to those isolated in our community - including sustenance and social supports for older people, a refuge for women and children affected by domestic violence and accommodation for men and women experiencing homelessness.
COPE Galway has been providing social services in Galway since the 1970’s. Originally called Galway Social Service Council, the organization was established by the Galway Diocese. In 1996 the named changed to Galway Social Services Limited, in 2000 the name was changed to COPE and in 2008 the organization was re-launched under the name COPE Galway to signify that all the services are provided in Galway city and county.
Today we provide the following services:
Domestic Violence Services
Services for Older People