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JULY 28TH, 2009 
One in Four today welcomes the publication by Minister Barry Andrews of the Implementation Plan for the recommendations of the Ryan Report.    The Plan surveys many of the shortcomings in the current child protection system in Ireland, and makes recommendations that are both practical and effective.    Executive Director Maeve Lewis says “survivors of sexual abuse attending One in Four want above all that other children be protected from abuse. If this Plan is implemented, it will have a far reaching impact on the safety of future generations of Irish children.  This will be the true monument to the survivors of institutions who were abused so grievously while in the care of the State”.
One in Four particularly welcomes the indication that the “Children First Guidelines” will be placed on a statutory footing, creating a duty for all people working in statutory or state funded services to comply with the Guidelines.  At present there are areas even of the HSE who do not abide by the Guidelines.  Unless a national monitoring authority is established to ensure compliance across all statutory bodies, including schools, and all non-governmental agencies, it is unlikely that universal observance will be achieved.
If a concern about a child is reported to the HSE child protection services, it is essential that staff are in place to investigate.  The recognition of the difficulties facing child protection services is very welcome, with an increase in resources promised. In particular, the employment of extra social workers, the attention paid to out-of hours services, continuing support for children leaving the care system, and the introduction of inspections in care facilities is a major step forward.
Minister Andrews’ statement of personal support for a constitutional referendum on the rights of children is positive.  Constitutional recognition would establish a core ethos of respect for children which would inform all future public policy and practice. 

Minister Andrews has promised to increase the capacity of the National Counselling Service to meet the needs of the survivors of institutional abuse and of clerical abuse.  Their childhood experience causes some survivors to distrust statutory services and many prefer to seek support from independent agencies.  It is not clear if extra financial provision will be made for organisations such as One in Four, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre or CARI, who have been on the frontline in meeting the fallout from the Ryan Report.  Since May 20th, One in Four has received almost 2000 calls from people seeking help, which has translated into 700 new clients of our psychotherapy and advocacy services, more than we would normally receive in a year.    Unless we receive emergency emergency funding to deal with this unprecedented and unique level of demand, we will struggle to respond appropriately.

Maeve Lewis continues: “The Implementation Plan may signal a new era in our response to the sexual abuse of children in Ireland.  If it is actually put into practice it will address many of our past and present failures in this regard.  However, we have a long history of shelving important recommendations that would have changed the child protection environment for the better.  In the current economic climate, we must wait and see if this excellent Plan translates into concrete action”.

Contact information

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