Women’s Aid Armagh Down Launch 40th Anniversary Celebrations.
27th April 2023
Women’s Aid Armagh Down launched its 40th anniversary year of celebrations with a breakfast event in the Canal Court Hotel in Newry on 25th April 2023. The event which was well attended by local stakeholders, partners, business organisations and political representatives, sought to open the year of activism by honouring the women who set up Women’s Aid locally.
Eileen Murphy, CEO Women’s Aid Armagh Down (WAAD) said, “40 years ago in 1983, in the midst of the troubles, an inspirational group of ladies who were concerned about the number of referrals to Belfast Women’s Aid from this area, took it upon themselves to set up the organisation in Newry. For this we are eternally grateful, as the service area has expanded over the last 40 years, to now include all of counties Down and Armagh.
“Over the past 40 years the service has supported thousands of women and children and has prevented many women from being murdered or seriously injured in their own homes. Despite this, there has tragically been 17 women murdered through domestic violence since 2020 in Northern Ireland and two women have lost their lives in these circumstances in our own area since Christmas. These figures are truly shocking as behind every statistic there is a women and a family.
“While it may feel like a contradiction for an organisation dealing with the very many horrific circumstances that women and children find themselves in, in our local communities, it is a time to celebrate. A time to celebrate the great many pioneering women who came behind us, and the women and children who are currently benefiting from the safety, support and hope offered by Women’s Aid.
“The primary message from this event was one of hope. We were delighted to have the Chair of our Board Niamh O Maolain launch our strategic plan for the next five years, which looks at where the organisation is going in terms of its support for victims of domestic abuse.”
Eileen Murphy continued, “We had a keynote address from Dr Mary Larkin, a local GP, and Board member at Women’s Aid Armagh Down. Dr Mary outlined the local health and wellbeing landscape and the challenges associated with delivering care in these circumstances. We then had two of our founder members Mairead Smith and Marian Cully along with Sonya McMullan from Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland and I as part of a panel looking forward and looking back over 40 years.”
The event concluded with a keynote from CEO Eileen Murphy who passionately outlined the need for political will and funding to help continue to deliver key services.
The event, which was hosted by Deborah Loughran, King Communication ended with an emotional video of a song recorded last year to highlight the work of Women’s Aid called ‘Hear Her Voice’.
Further events will be taking place across the 40th year to raise awareness of Women’s Aid Armagh Down and will end in March 2024 with a major conference on Domestic abuse. To keep up to date with events or to support Women’s Aid Armagh Down, follow WAAD of social media or in local press.