The first sod was turned yesterday for the new Donegal Women’s Domestic Violence Service (DWDVS) refuge, 21 years after the murder of a Donegal woman led to the establishment of the Donegal service.
Alanna Gallagher, whose mother, Gloria McCole, was killed in May 1991 by her husband, turned the first sod. Alanna’s brother, Joseph; Gloria’s mother, Mary McCole, and Gloria’s sister, Anne Boyle, and brother, Michael McCole, also attended.
“If there was something like this in mammy’s day, she might still be with us,” Alanna said.
Speaking later, Alanna, age 27, said, “This is a great day for Donegal and the northwest. So many women have suffered and are suffering, that this service is very important.”
Fiona Doherty, DWDVS manager, was grateful to the family for attending and for their support. She said the work of DWDVS is undertaken in Gloria’s memory, and thousands of women have been saved since Gloria’s death.
Fiona also said the refuge would not have reached this stage without Donegal County Council, DWDVS partner in the project. Donegal Mayor, Cllr. Noel McBride, County Manager Seamus Neely and several councillors were among those at the sod-turning.
The new refuge will include four two-bedroom apartments and a three-bedroom house. The refuge will be staffed around the clock and also include space for counselling and other services that DWDVS hopes to provide on site.
DWDVS now has a three-bedroom refuge provided by the Health Service Executive, which also provided core funding for the service. Construction of the new, €750,000 refuge is funded by the Department of Environment, though DWDVS is contributing about €75,000.
“Anyone who gave to us in the last 21 years, that was put into a building fund,” said Marie Hainsworth, DWDVS chairperson.
Alanna and her brother, Joseph, age 24, wanted to urge women in need to contact DWDVS.
“There’s help there,” Joseph said. The DWDVS 24-hour helpline is 1800 262 677.