We have many years of cutbacks ahead of us in Ireland and the fact that a political party committed not to make certain cuts pre-election is no guarantee that they won’t in government.
Still, I was struck by one small cut reported on last Saturday.
SAFE IRELAND, the national body representing domestic violence refuges and services, has had its core funding cut by 100 per cent.
The 25th of November to the 10th of November is the international 16 Days of Action campaign aimed at highlighting and opposing violence against women.
The news of that cut became public at the outset of this year’s 16 Days campaign.
The Labour manifesto for the 2011 election stated:
Labour is committed to tackling and eradicating domestic violence. We will protect funding for frontline services, such as family refuges …
That was 9 months ago. Three weeks ago, the Minister for Justice said in the Dail:
all reasonable efforts will be made by my Department to continue supporting the provision of services dealing with domestic and sexual abuse within available resources.
Now, the defence of this cut will be that it does not affect frontline services: SAFE Ireland doesn’t provide them. And, to be fair to Minister Shatter, the cut was not made by his department but by one run by a party colleague. Nevertheless, the work of SAFE Ireland was important and the funding not excessive. In fact, the move by the HSE appears to be a redirection of funds rather than a full cut. According to the director of SAFE Ireland:
[The HSE] say they are going to use the money instead to commission a number of pieces of work towards the implementation of their action plan on domestic violence.
Which, surprisingly, appears to be quite similar to the work that SAFE Ireland was doing:
SAFE Ireland is part of the implementation infrastructure for the delivery of the government strategy on domestic, sexual and gender based violence.”
This may be the shape of things to come: the economic environment used as justification not only for cuts in funding to NGOs and service providers who rely on State funding, but also as justification for the redirection of remaining funds to consultants and in-house services.