Domestic violence agency to close due to lack of funding

The government has failed to guarentee funding for the National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency, so it is has been forced to close at the end of January


The National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency (NDVIA) is due to close at the end of the day, 31 January, due to a lack of funding from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

The NDVIA was set up three years ago to work with An Garda Síochána, the Court Service, the HSE and other groups to develop an inter-agency approach to domestic violence. They have also been running a pilot programme in Dun Laoghaire and Bray District Court monitoring and tracking offender's behaviours and providing risk assessments to the courts.

The Department of Justice provided NDVIA with funding for three years, starting in 2003 until the end of 2006.  When the NDVIA met the department of justice in June 2006, they made an agreement to meet again in the autumn to discuss the funding and future of the project. But despite numerous phonecalls, emails and letters to the department since September, the NDVIA did not get a meeting with the department until 29 January, two days before they were due to close. At this stage they had already informed the four staff in the project of the closure. Project Director at the NDVIA, Martina Boyle, says the department were unable to give an indication about a decision on funding at the meeting. “There was no guarantee or indication on how long a decision would take”.

She says their closure will have a “huge impact” on the area of domestic violence. “We are the only agency looking at systems, and addressing all the points of contact in a domestic violence crime”.

An independent assessment of the NDVIA project was carried out by Farrell Grant Sparks last year and found the pilot had encouraged victims to stick with the legal process.

The NDVIA are holding a press conference at lunchtime on 31 January to announce the closure and “call on minister (of justice) to effectively intervene”.  According to Women's Aid, a domestic violence support agency one in five Irish women have experienced domestic violence. And there is one homicide a month that is domestic violence related.

In general the area of domestic violence is grossly underfunded and neglected by government.

Women's Aid themselves have been struggling to get extra funding from the department of justice for the last few years.

The group runs a vital national helpline for victims of domestic violence. They are unable to run it on 24 hour, seven day a week basis though, as of a lack of funding. Last year they could not answer 40 per cent of their calls - around 10,504 calls - due to a lack of resources. For the past two years they been asking the government for an additional €70,000 a year for the helpline, but have received nothing. The funding they do get is not guaranteed and is provided on a year to year basis. 

In addition to a lack of funding there has been little impetus from government to tackle domestic violence. Village reported last year that the government has failed to implement many of the major recommendations contained in a task force report on domestic violence in 1997. Out of 28 main recommendations in the report only 11 have been implemented and five of the nine priority areas have not been implemented.

Some of the major recommendations that  were not achieved are- providing a 24 hour national helpline for domestic violence victims; running a national awareness campaign; compiling statistics on domestic violence victims; training front line staff; and providing counselling for victims at all refuges.