61. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the measures and resources she has put in place for any increased reporting of domestic violence following the What Would You Do? awareness campaign; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40443/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I have secured an additional increase in funding of €250,000 in Budget 2017 for services to victims of crime - an increase of 17% on the 2016 amount. This funding which is administered by the Victims of Crime office of my Department, is allocated to organisations working with victims. A significant part of the monies allocated relate to court accompaniment - including for victims of domestic violence. Decisions on that funding for 2017 are currently being finalised.
Under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions. I understand that the Courts Service is developing plans for a dedicated and integrated Family Law and Children’s Court building on a site at Church Street and Hammond Lane, adjacent to the Four Courts. I have been informed that to alleviate pressure in the short and medium term, the Courts Service has reorganised sittings in Dublin to support more family law courts. Since the start of October, the three courtrooms at the courthouse in Chancery Street have been sitting daily to hear childcare matters. The five courtrooms in Dolphin House have been available to hear private family law matters since 3 October 2016 and in the intervening period the President of the District Court has assigned judges to sit in all five courts, when they are available. The net impact of this is that waiting times have been brought back for all courts users, including those people applying for protection and barring orders, and it has been possible to get a date 3 weeks in advance for such hearings.
I am informed by An Garda Síochána, in preparation for and in support of the campaign Divisional and District Officers and all Inspectors responsible for monitoring domestic abuse calls were briefed. Instructions regarding the campaign and the response to it have been published on the Garda Portal (their internal computer system) for all members. The Garda National Protective Services Bureau is actively involved in the campaign and is monitoring An Garda Síochána response.
The primary funders of the domestic violence victim services and refuges is Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. The national budget for domestic and sexual violence services increased in 2016 to €20.6m and is being further increased in 2017 arising from the provision of increased overall funding of €37m to Tusla. The precise level of increase in funding to the domestic and sexual violence sector will be set out by Tusla in its 2017 Business Plan, which is expected to be completed later this month.