Yvonne Boyle, Alliance Westminster Candidate for East Londonderry, has condemned Coleraine Council’s decision to cut funding to Coleraine Woman’s Aid.
Ms Boyle, a former member of Foyle Trust Inter-agency Forum Against Domestic Violence, said: “This decision, which may result in loss of a key worker’s job, puts women’s lives at risk in the area.
“Incidents of domestic violence are increasing in this area, as they are over the whole of Northern Ireland — with over 16,000 domestic violence incidents reported in 2003/4.
“Memories are still fresh of the woman murdered in Portstewart. Four other women lost their lives through domestic violence in Northern Ireland last year and the statistics are 2 women per week across the UK.
“Even given the difficult funding situation for the voluntary and community sector, this is a spectacular own goal, for the so-called decent, Unionist-dominated Coleraine Council. Think of the damage they could do, if unchallenged, when the Council boundaries are extended with the Review of Public Administration. Unfortunately it is vulnerable women and their families who are going to suffer as the chances of appropriate support and safe accommodation are reduced.
“It is also extremely worrying that in recent NSPCC and Sugar Magazine survey in Northern Ireland one in 10 teenage girls think it is acceptable to be hit by a boyfriend. One in five teenage girls in the UK reported being hit by a boyfriend and one in three have experienced some form of domestic violence or abuse at home.
“There is a critical need for increased awareness, mechanisms to hold the perpetrators to account and appropriate deterrents to be put in place within the justice system. The Women,s Aid 24 Hour Helpline number is 028 9033 1818.
“It is time we regained Alliance seats on Coleraine Council so that appropriate evaluation and progressive measures can be sustained and essential community facilities maintained for the good of the whole