From today, women who are experiencing domestic violence can go into their local Boots pharmacy and access a 'Safe Space' in a consultation room.

In this confidential space, they can contact one of the 39 frontline specialist domestic abuse services across the country and access free, confidential support and advice.

There has been a 20-30% increase in calls to gardaí about domestic violence since the coronavirus outbreak began.

Boots Ireland is operating the 'Safe Space' initiative, in partnership with Safe Ireland, at its 88 Boots stores around the country.

Safe Ireland Co-CEO Mary McDermott said victims of domestic abuse are being forced to chose between the threat of infection and the threat of abuse.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms McDermott said the national helpline has seen an increase in calls since the Covid-19 restrictions were imposed, while there have been more presentations at refuges by single women, pregnant women, and women with children.

She said the pandemic has reduced women's capacity to reach out for help and it is more difficult for those with young children to move.

Ms McDermott said the initiative with Boots puts the issue into the community and attempts to address the stigma and the silence around abuse.

She said anyone who needs help can go into Boots Pharmacy where staff have been properly trained in how to respond.

Information on the initiative can be found on the Safe Ireland website.