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Question

203. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Justice if an update will be provided on efforts to tackle domestic violence in Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51593/21]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): I would like to thank the Deputy for raising this issue and to assure him that tackling domestic violence in Ireland is a key priority for this Government.
This is reflected in the Programme for Government where we committed to a number of actions in this area, such as the development of a third national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV) and the audit of how domestic, sexual and gender based violence services are organised. Both these actions are key deliverables in the Justice Plan 2021. 
The audit was published in July of this year. Minister O’Gorman and I agreed, in line with its key recommendations, that the Department of Justice will continue to have lead policy responsibility for DSGBV. We also recognise that the policy and operational responses of a number of other Ministers and agencies will continue to be crucial in meeting the Government’s commitment to tackle all forms of DSGBV.
My Department is leading the development across Government of the new DSGBV national strategy which will place a priority on prevention and reduction. It will be the most ambitious strategy to date and aims to radically improve services and supports for victims. The strategy is on track to be developed in consultation with all relevant Departments and stakeholders with a view to it coming to Government for approval before the end of 2021.
The new strategy will build on the experience of the last two strategies, the learning from the priority given to this work during the pandemic and the commitment and expertise of all bodies involved. The audit outcome, the current review of accommodation needs undertaken by Tusla together with the ongoing work of implementing Supporting a Victim's Journey, will also feed into the new strategy.
It is my intention to have a draft strategy ready for a further round of public consultation in the coming weeks.
Progress is continuing to be made on delivering the recommendations arising out of the O'Malley Review, as set out in Supporting A Victims Journey. A number of important actions have already been delivered and work to progress the remaining actions is being treated as a priority by all those responsible for their delivery. When completed, this work will ensure victims have confidence that the criminal justice system will support them, keep them informed and treat them with respect and dignity at every stage of their journey through it.
The commitment of this Government to combatting domestic, sexual and gender based violence and to supporting victims is reflected in the funding allocated under Budget 2022, with a total of €13m allocated to my Department for this. This represents an increased allocation of €5.35m and will enable us to roll out specific awareness raising and training programmes to combat domestic, sexual and gender based violence. It will also allow us to provide additional supports to NGOs and specific domestic violence intervention programmes and it will support a number of front line activities.
As part of this, an additional €1.1m will be used to put in place a legal advice and legal aid service in court for victims of sexual violence and €1 million is being provided to the Garda vote to refurbish and upgrade the Divisional Protective Service Units. This will allow us to better support and protect vulnerable victims.
The additional funding secured under Budget 2022 will allow us to continue to build on the work undertaken this year. We will continue to improve the system for victims, to better support them and through various means to raise awareness of, and to combat, all forms of domestic, sexual and gender based violence.
Furthermore, I understand that Minister O'Gorman has secured an increase of €41m for Tusla under Budget 2022 which includes the budget for funding organisations that deliver frontline services, including the funding of refuge spaces.
Since 2014, this part of Tusla's budget has almost doubled from €17.5m to €30m in 2021. While I understand Minister O'Gorman, in consultation with Tusla, is finalising the detailed allocation of funding resources to various programmes and service areas, I am assured that the budget for 2022 will allow Tusla to maintain supports for DSGBV services, which have seen a significant increases in demand in the context of Covid-19, and to progress recommendations emerging from its review of refuge accommodation provision.