“The Cabinet will meet on Wednesday to discuss the HSE report on the child protection services in the Diocese of Cloyne. We call for the immediate and full publication of this report, in light of the findings of the Report of the National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC). The Children’s Rights Alliance agrees with the calls that have been made for the resignation of Bishop Magee. Moreover, it is evident from the NBSC Report that the Cabinet has no choice but to refer the actions of Bishop Magee, and the findings of the report on the Diocese of Cloyne, to the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation.
But the role of the Cabinet to protect children in Ireland doesn’t stop there; action and leadership is needed to help end child abuse in Ireland. All too often we are blinded by headlines and fail to see the long-term implications and the need to take action. The State has a positive obligation to protect children from abuse and there are decisions that the Cabinet can take on Wednesday that will make a difference. These include:
- Making it a legal duty for those in key positions of authority to report allegations of child abuse. (Current reporting guidelines, Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children, 1999, are only voluntary.)
- Creating in law a specific offence of child sexual abuse – at present all offences are prosecuted under generic sexual offences that are adult-focused.
- Fast-tracking the hearing of child abuse cases. (A child may have to wait 3 to 4 years for a case to be heard, though a case in the commercial court will be heard within 4 to 6 weeks – we need to value children as much as we do our economic activities.)
Frustratingly, Ireland finds itself once again faced with an adult who failed to adequately handle allegations of child abuse. In the words of Cardinal Seán Brady: ‘At all times the welfare of children must be the paramount consideration.’ We must think for the long-term. We need to be prepared.
Ireland will only be prepared when it makes real changes in its law and practice, and complies with its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified in 1992. It is the only way of developing a comprehensive child abuse prevention strategy that will ensure adequate responses to abuse, neglect and domestic violence.”
Jillian van Turnhout
Notes to editors:
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Children's Rights Alliance
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