Women's Aid Pays Tribute to Founder Member Nuala Fennell, 12th August 2009

12 Aug 2009

  • Ms Fennell set in motion profound social, cultural and political change for abused women
  • Helped make thousands of Irish women safer in their own homes

Margaret Martin, Director of Women's Aid, today paid tribute to Nuala Fennell, on hearing of her death, at the age of 73. Ms Fennell was a founder member and the first Chairperson of Women's Aid. Women's Aid has provided support and information over 30 years to women and their children affected by physical, emotional and sexual violence in their own homes.

Ms Martin said, "Nuala was one of the first people in Ireland to highlight the desperate situation for Irish women and children who were experiencing violence in their own homes. By writing that letter to the Irish Times in 1974, Nuala set in motion a profound shift in social, cultural and political attitudes towards abused women in Ireland."

In 1974, Ms Fennell was affected by a television programme in the UK that highlighted the situation of women trying to flee domestic violence. She was struck by the number of Irish women who were using UK services because no support was available in Ireland. She wrote a letter to the Irish Times which asked people to join with her to do something about the plight of abused Irish women. She received a huge response and Women's Aid was formed.

Ms Martin added, "Her commitment, compassion and determination led to the establishment of Women's Aid in 1974 and since then, Women's Aid has grown into the leading national organisation working on the issue of domestic violence. Every year we support thousands of women through our National Freephone Helpline and one to one support service and help women and children become safer."

She said, "On behalf of Women's Aid, I extend my sympathy to Nuala's husband Brian and children Jacqueline, Garrett and Amanda and her family and friends."


For more information, please contact Christina or Laura at 01 868 4721 or 087 919 2457.


Further information and statistics:

  • Women's Aid has been working to address the issue of domestic violence in Ireland for more than 30 years. It is a voluntary organisation which provides information and support to women experiencing violence in their own homes. Women's Aid operates a National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 from 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week and a Dublin based one to one support service and court accompaniment service.
  • Domestic violence affects 1 in 5 women in Ireland.
  • 50% of women murdered in Ireland are killed by a partner or ex-partner.
  • Almost one quarter (23.6%) of perpetrators of sexual violence against women are intimate partners or ex-partners.
  • 1 in 8 women surveyed in a Dublin maternity hospital had experienced domestic violence during their pregnancy.
  • In 2007, the Women's Aid National Helpline responded to 11,733 calls. There were 8,012 incidents of emotional abuse, 2,457 incidents of physical abuse and 1408 incidents of financial abuse disclosed. In the same year, 593 incidents of sexual abuse were disclosed to Helpline support workers including 248 rapes.