Lifeline Inishowen have yet to receive any response from the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs almost a week after a petition calling for funding was submitted to her.
Representatives from the domestic violence service travelled to Dail Eireann last Wednesday to submit their 2,000 strong petition
They were met by supporters, as well as Donegal Deputies Charlie McConalogue and Pearse Doherty and Senator Padraig MacLochlainn.
Lifeline Inishowen manager Mary Doherty told the ‘Journal’ they received a ‘great response’ in Dublin and revealed that their campaign was featured nationally on RTE Radio and in the Irish Times.
She revealed that many people approached them as they stood outside the Dail and spoke of their anger at what they saw as the dissolution of rural communities and the centralisation of vital services.
“Many approached us and encouraged us to keep on fighting. A lot of people said it’s a disgrace that rural issues are not being acknowledged - not just in Inishowen, but right across the country. There’s all this talk about centralising services, but that can have a real impact on people in rural areas.”
Minister Zappone has been under increasing pressure to meet with Lifeline Inishowen, but has yet to do so.
Mary said: “It’s terrible that she won’t meet with us to discuss it. She should at least have the courtesy to do that.”
Mary said the service is only open due to fundraising and the support of the community, but this is not viable long-term.
‘We need funding and we need staff,” she added.
Meanwhile, Independent TD for Donegal Thomas Pringle attended the Council of Europe, a human rights organisation based in Strasbourgh, where he raised the ongoing issue of the imminent closure of ‘Lifeline Inishowen.’
His speech coincided with handing over a petition of 1,000 signatures from Lifeline supporters and constituents to Minister for Children Catherine Zappone at Leinster House.
Speaking at the Council of Europe on the Istanbul Convention, Deputy Pringle stated: “The Istanbul convention is a very important document for the people of Ireland and should set the standard on how the State deals with violence against women.
“However, Ireland has a long way to go in reaching this standard; the situation facing Lifeline in Inishowen is a case in point. Lifeline Inishowen is being forced to shut down because they do not meet the government model of delivery of services yet they have provided a service in an area that has had no services over the years since the 1960s. They have consistently stepped in where the Government has stepped out.
“We’re talking about women’s lives being at risk in one of the most isolated parts of the country because the Government chooses not to prioritise women and children’s safety. This is unacceptable for a developed country like Ireland.
“One crucial element of the Istanbul Convention is that anti-domestic violence policies must involve government agencies and NGOs, as well as national, regional and local services. The Government must take this seriously by re-engaging with Lifeline, providing financial support and look into how to sustainable support Lifeline and women affected by domestic violence into the future across Donegal and the rest of the country.”