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Press Release      

Thursday October 30th 2006

                                                                                   

One in Four welcomes the publication of the Report of the Joint Committee on Child Protection

Today, One in Four welcomed the publication of the report of  the Oireachtas Committee on Child Protection, One in Four submitted a detailed submission to the committee on August 31st 2006 setting out its views on the issues under examination by the committee and made a number of recommendations as to the constitutional, legislative and policy changes it believes are necessary to ensure better protection for children from abuse and exploitation in this State, and that crimes of abuse and exploitation perpetrated upon children are properly investigated and prosecuted.

Welcoming the report, Colm O'Gorman, Director said

“This is the most far-reaching and significant report on child protection in Ireland to date, which details many well considered and innovative recommendations for reform of current legislation and child protection policies in this state. it is now imperative that the government act to implement the recommendations of the report., we are very much of the view that the very detailed recommendations of this committee, if implemented, would represent a huge leap forward in Child Protection in Ireland

The report contains some 62 recommendations pertaining to child protection; we look forward to examining each of them further.  However there are particular recommendations which we welcome.

Commenting upon the recommendation for the introduction of legislation that will criminalise the act of grooming, O’Gorman said:
“The introduction of the criminal offence of grooming and the offence of child sexual abuse are essential components of the significant reform of legislation needed to ensure that we protect children from sexual abuse. It is particularly important that we criminalize grooming; it is a nonsense when an adult grooms a child to sexually abuse that child, no significant crime is committed until the child has actually be sexually assaulted. This is particularly true in the case of offenders with previous convictions where a pattern of grooming can be clearly established. Such legislation will undoubtedly work to prevent the rape and abuse of children.”

Commenting upon the recommendation which would allow for the recording of soft information O'Gorman said:

“The power to use soft information is an essential child protection tool. Given the very low level of both reporting and successful prosecution of child sexual abuse it is totally unsatisfactory to rely solely upon information resulting from convictions. If vetting is reliant only upon information related to convictions we are not adequately protecting children. The danger of not properly using information related to complaints or allegations that did not result in a prosecution or a conviction were demonstrated in the case of the Soham murder case involving Ian Huntley.”

We also welcome the establishment of a system to provide for video-link evidence, and the prohibition of cross examination by the accused.

We acknowledge the proposal to introduce a equal age of consent at 16 has been the subject of controversy in recent days, One in Four does not believe that the reduction of the age of consent to 16 damages child protection, we hope that public discussion and debate of the issues raised in this report will not focus solely on the age of consent and will consider the very significant advances recommended in the report “

In its submission to the Joint Committee One in Four recommended that the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Child Protection should be established on a permanent basis. “We believe that this committee should be established on a permanent footing to ensure the enactment of its recommendations and to continue to monitor best practice in all areas of child protection in Ireland.”

"It is not acceptable given everything we have learnt in the past 15 years about child protection and the failures evident in our child protection system and legislation that this committee has only worked for a little over three months. A proper examination of these issues must take place and we must ensure that we prioritise the issue of child protection by establishing this committee on a permanent basis."

Finally, we would like to congratulate all members of  the committee on producing such a detailed and well considered report in such a short space of time, this report is testament to what can be achieved through purposeful all party consensus.

 
 

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Support and resources for people who have experienced sexual abuse and/or sexual violence.