After Cork and Ross Social Services (CRSS) failed to agree to provide marriage counselling services to same-sex couples, child and family agency Tusla decided to withdraw their annual funding for the service, which is estimated to be between €250,000 and €300,000 a year.
Cork and Ross Social Services have been working with couples since the 1970s, and it is understood that the service cannot comply with Tusla’s equality requirements because of its founding constitution.
The counselling staff at CRSS are looking to distance themselves from the controversy.
A statement made on behalf of the marriage counselling staff explained that they “would like to totally disassociate themselves from the alleged policy of CRSS in relation to seeing same-sex couples at the centre.”
They claimed that the staff “have always worked with LGBTQ+ couples or individuals who have presented to the centre,” and that “it has always been the policy of the centre to welcome everyone regardless of means or status.”
“We believe the loss of this low-cost service to the people of Cork who can’t afford to pay for private counselling is shameful,” the statement continued.
The statement also explained that the eleven staff currently providing the service had not been consulted on any of the decisions made by CRSS and that they accept Tusla’s decision to pull the funding.
A spokesperson for Tusla explained the reasoning behind the removal of the funding in a statement, saying that CRSS failed to reach Tulsa’s service level agreement:
“Tusla recognises the need to have all counselling service providers in the community and voluntary sector operating from the same service level agreement, and the importance of public-funded services operating services which are accessible to everyone. This is why Tusla advocated for the inclusion of this requirement in 2018 service level agreements, to ensure those service providers who receive public money to deliver services abide by Ireland’s equality legislation.”
The service level agreement clearly states that service providers in receipt of these funds must “ensure that the services are accessible to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, recognising the diversity of needs of people, including specific needs, from urban, regional and remote areas; and not discriminate on the grounds of gender, civil, or family status, age, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or membership of the Traveller Community.”
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