The Gender Gap in State Funding for Men’s and Women’s Groups

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The State Funding Labyrinth

Since we pointed back in 2018 to the appalling lack of funding for services for male victims of Domestic Violence (DV) by comparison with that afforded to women, we have been looking more closely at state funding to women’s groups overall in this state. Trying to get a firm handle on this is a tricky business, given the extraordinary proliferation of women’s groups and the many agencies who are supplying funds.
In relation to funding provided to different groups in Ireland it appears that men as a collective comprise the only group not recognised as deserving state funds. For many others there is a state bounty: Women (a proliferation of groups), Travellers (two or more), Immigrants (two or more groups), LGB, Transgender people.
In Ireland this is known as Equality.

The DV Sector in More Detail

In 2018 we revealed that of the total funding of €17m allocated by Tusla in 2017 to DV services, just 1.4% went to Amen, the sole agency providing for male victims. But Tusla is not the only state agency providing such funding. There are others including Cosc, Pobal, HSE, CSVC (Dept of Justice), Dept of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Dept of Housing, Planning and Local government. Even local councils have contributed to the pot of money. Probing a bit deeper we found

Tusla Annual report for 2018 says:
In 2018, Tusla provided funding, oversight and support to 59 organisations delivering services to victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV) throughout the country.
Funding for DSGBV services was increased by €1.5 million to €23.8 million in 2018, to help meet Ireland’s obligations under the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).

We reckon there are more than 40 agencies providing DV services alone spread over 24 counties receiving substantial sums from the state, many offer refuge also of which there are 22. These do not include the 16 rape crisis centres.
Quite a number of these groups received in excess of €1m funding in 2018: Women’s Aid €1.4m, Women’s Aid Dundalk €1.004m, Safe Ireland €1.27m, Aoibhneas €1.2m, Adapt €2.16m, Sonas €2.243m. It would take too long to go through the whole gravy train but we take two:
Adapt Domestic Abuse Service in Limerick:
It declared a total income of €2,063,900 in 2018 of which €1.8million was supplied by the state. In more detail:
Tusla €973,000, LCETB (Education and Training Board) €20,700, Pobal €325,000, Dept of Justice €61,000, Dept of Social Protection €430,000. This last item was under a Community Employment (CE) scheme.

Sonas Domestic Violence Charity also known as Sonas Housing Association received a total of €3,266,187 in 2018 of which Tusla gave €2.1million, Wicklow Co Council €80,000, Dublin City Council €15,700, South Dublin Co Council €11,000, Dept of Justice (CSVC) €13,500 with smaller amounts from other sources including Fingal and Meath Councils, a total of €2,243,000 from the state in 2018. Sonas seems on face value to have perfected the art of milking all state cows, though all the women’s groups are adept at this.
In Ireland this is known as Equality.

Men as a collective comprise the only group not recognised as deserving state funds

Advocacy and Political Groups

In relation to groups outside the DV, or in Tusla parlance DSGBV sector, we looked at one overarching lobby group, the NWC which has received state funds for the 50 years or so of its existence. In 2018, it received €740,000 of which €519,000 came from the Dept of Justice and Equality, €90,000 from the HSE and the same from Pobal. The Dept of Rural Community and Gaeltacht Affairs chipped in another €19,000. Clearly the NWC has been able to tap a whole range of sources. Even IHREC gave €12,000 in 2017, showing clearly where its allegiance lies.
Support costs including salaries and office etc came to €840,000. The Council had 15 employees in 2018.
The purpose of the grant from the Dept of Justice: Gender equality through our work to engage with Government, provide a women’s equality analysis on all policy areas, consult with women and women’s organisations and to leverage additional private funds to promote women’s equality.
The grant from the HSE is for the delivery of a service for two core positions in the health area. That from Pobal or the Dept of the Environment, Community and Local Government, was to cover two core positions, a fulltime Women in Local Govt Coordinator and a part-time Membership Liaison Officer.

The National Collective of Community-based Women’s Networks received €1.58 million from the Dept of Justice

We discovered another group with a large begging bowl with the grandiose title of National Collective of Community-based Women’s Networks, NCCWN, which according to the Dept of Justice, a main provider of funding, consists of 17 women’s groups in various parts of the country, involved broadly in activation and outreach for disadvantaged women. In 2018 it received €1.58 million from the Dept of Justice. The rationale for this largesse was:
Using community development and feminist approaches, the company works to support the employment of and advocate for women who experience disadvantage and marginalisation and to promote social justice, women’s human rights and equality.

Apparently, men who experience disadvantage do not qualify for social justice or for the same favoured treatment and are left to languish on the street.
We looked almost at random at the extraordinary plethora of other women’s groups. Take for instance Women for Election which is described as follows: Women for Election is a non-partisan organisation whose vision is of an Ireland with balanced participation of women and men in political life. Our mission is to inspire and equip women to succeed in politics. WfE offers a tailored training and support programme to women seeking to enter public life…. committed to equal representation of women and men in Irish politics.
In 2018 this group received €62,000 from the Dept of Housing Planning and Local Government. We have to ask whether this is regular?
Q. What other candidates for election receive state funding to help their campaign?
In Ireland this is known as Equality.

Has the Comptroller and Auditor General ever done a review of funding to women’s groups?

Some Questions

At this point several questions need to be asked:
1. Has any state agency tried to determine how much duplication is going on here?
For instance is there really a need for all the following groups in Co.Cork?
YANA North Cork Domestic Violence Project, based in Mallow, €163,000 in 2018
Domestic Violence Information Resource Centre (OSS CORK) in Cork City, €172,000
West Cork Women Against Violence Company based in Bantry, €317,000 in 2017
Mna na Mara Castletownbere (no accounts given)
Mna Feasa, Women’s Domestic Violence Project, Cork Women’s Action Group (no accounts given).

We may have missed some here.

2. Has there ever been a review carried out of the demand and the need for these services or indeed of the way money is spent, of basic accounting? Whether the state is getting value for money here? Has the Comptroller and Auditor General ever done a review?

3. Why has the state meekly acquiesced in the face of demands from so many diverse women’s groups while never asking or trying to determine what services for men are needed, not to mention asking if there was a comparable need for a National Men’s Council?
These are issues we hope to pursue in the future.