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One in Four welcomes the announcement of new legislation creating the offence of reckless endangerment of children as recommended by the Ferns Report.   

One in Four, the national charity that supports women and men who have experienced sexual violence, today welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Michael McDowell TD of the creation of the new criminal offence of the reckless endangerment of children. This offence will be created under the Criminal Justice Amendment Bill and is one of the key recommendations of the Ferns Report.

Speaking today, Colm O'Gorman, Director of One in Four, said, “One in Four worked to ensure that the creation of such a criminal offence would be a key outcome of the Ferns Inquiry and we were encouraged when the Government indicated that they would act upon that recommendation. The creation of the offence of reckless endangerment of children will, if properly enacted, provide for much improved child protection in Ireland. The new offence is especially relevant given that recent public opinion polls have indicated that over 80% of Irish people believe that Bishops who covered up child abuse should be prosecuted. Whilst this new offence will not lead to prosecutions in Ferns or other cases of past negligence, it will result in any future negligence or cover up becoming the subject of criminal proceedings.”

The investigation of past events can only be purposeful if its focus is both to respond to those events, to bring comfort and support to those affected and importantly to ensure such failures are never allowed to happen again. This move to act upon one of the key recommendations of the Ferns Report is an important first step in learning from the litany of past failures in ways that help to reshape our future and work towards better protection for all our children, both within a church context and in other areas.

One in Four today repeated its call for joint Oireachtas Committee hearings to examine the Ferns Report and consider its findings and recommendations. The report makes extensive and significant findings in relation to shortcomings in current child protection practice and legislation as well as the management of child protection within the Irish Education system. These findings are of profound importance and demand proper examination and consideration. One in Four believes that the best way forward in that regard is for the Oireachtas to properly examine and consider this extensive report. We believe this report, which runs to 271 pages, can only be properly considered by the Oireachtas in appropriate joint committee hearings.

One in Four has written again to the Chairpersons of both the Joint Committee on Health and Children and the Joint Committee on Education to request such hearings. We note that there is cross party support for our request and that An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell and Minister for Children Brian Lenihan have also supported our calls for such hearings. We look forward to appearing before any future joint committee hearings.

 
 

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