Closure of Galway’s Sexual Assault Treatment Unit for Children:
Press Statement-Cllr Catherine Connolly-5th January 2016.
Closure of Sexual Assault Treatment for Children in Galway which assessed/treated 70 children alone in 2015 is not acceptable and must be reopened immediately with a commitment given by the HSE West to have meaningful talks with medical staff.
Councillor Catherine Connolly said it is simply unacceptable that Galway’s Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (CASATS) is closed since the 1st January 2016 and child victims of sexual violence have to travel to Dublin for assessment.
The unit which opened its 24 hour service in Galway in 2011 is absolutely essential she said given the prevalence of sexual assault and violence in the community-statistics which unfortunately have been repeated confirmed.
More particularly said Cllr Connolly, the Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland Study (known as SAVI), an internationally recognized piece of research in 2002 highlighted the appalling figures.
This groundbreaking study consulted over 3,000 randomly selected Irish Adults and found that 42% of Women and 28% of Men experienced some form of sexual abuse or assault in their lives.
Particularly significant also was their finding that Sexual Violence in Ireland still reminded one of the most under-reported and under-recorded of violent crimes.
Given this background and indeed the findings of the various reports into child sexual abuse including the Ryan Report, the Murphy Report and the Roscommon Enquiry, the closure of a dedicated Sexual Assault Unit for children under 14 years of age simply beggars belief.
It is all the more unacceptable said Cllr Connolly given the enormous effort it took to have the unit opened in the first place. She said as a member of the Regional Health Forum since 2006 she continually campaigned for the establishment of this service.
The unit finally opened in 2009 but did not offer any service outside of office hours. Following further pressure a full 24 hour service was set up in 2011 in a rented building in an industrial estate.
At this point rather than moving forward and examining the construction of a permanent premises in Merlin Park, the HSE West she said have taken a retrograde step and allowed the closure of this essential service which last year alone assessed/treated 70 children from Galway and/or the West.
Councillor Connolly said while she welcomes confirmation from the HSE West that there will be a meeting on Thursday the 7th January with the medical personnel to try and resolve the difficulties that have arisen, immediate and temporary steps must also be taken to allow the specialized unit to re-open.
Further she said she will be raising the closure of the unit as a matter of urgency at the next Regional Health Forum Meeting on the 26th January 2016.