November 9, 2012
Voting Yes in the Children’s Referendum
Tomorrow we will vote on the Children’s Referendum. It may be the most important vote any of us get a chance to cast in our lifetimes. I will be voting “Yes”.
Every day at One in Four we meet men and women who were sexually abused as children, most of them in their own families. We see the suffering they have endured throughout their lives as a result. Many of them tried to tell about the abuse when it was happening but nobody listened and the abuse went on. Is this really what we want for our children now and for children in the future?
We all know that a loving family is the best place for a child to grow up, and for most children that is what they experience. But for some children, sadly, the family is the most dangerous place in the world.
If the Referendum is passed, the best interest of the child will have to be at the centre of all decisions concerning them in relation to child protection, custody, access and adoption. The State will only be able to intervene in exceptional circumstances when there is a serious risk to the child. And the State will also be obliged to provide support to families who are struggling before it gets to the point where children would be taken into care. It is likely that fewer rather than more children will come into care as a result. But those who really need it will be protected.
In Ireland children have been sexually abused in their families, neighbourhoods, parishes and in the residential institutions while in the care of the State. We all know what can happen behind closed doors if children are silenced. In many cases neighbours and professionals suspected something was wrong but felt helpless to act. This Referendum will help to ensure that the voice of the child must be taken into account when decisions are being made about them. We must never again have a situation where children are not heeded when they try to tell us about abuse.
The barrister Geoffrey Shannon said recently that if this Referendum, fails, we will go back 100 years in our child protection system. If you have read the Kilkenny Incest Report or the Ryan Report or the Roscommon Report – do you really want to maintain that system? Vote Yes on Saturday and help to put our shameful past behind us.
November 9th 2012
September 19, 2012
A Day To Celebrate
SEPTEMBER 19TH 2012
Today is a day to celebrate. For everybody who has suffered in childhood, for parents, for all the people who work with and for children, we should remember September 19th 2012. After twenty years of talk and promises, the wording for a children’s referendum has finally been published
The wording published today is robust but balanced. It places the best interest of the child at the heart of all decisions regarding a child’s welfare and protection, and ensures that where appropriate, the child’s views will be taken into account in making those decisions. We are especially pleased that the wording contains the word “shall” rather than “may”, which will create an imperative for the Courts or any other agencies to consider always what is best for the child.“
Children of married parents who are in long-term care with no possibility of reconciliation with their families will be given a second chance of belonging to a loving family through adoption.
Some people have been concerned that a constitutional change would allow the State interfere unduly in family life. These fears should be allayed today. The State can only intervene in exceptional cases in a manner proportionate to the extent to which the safety or welfare of the child is at risk.
Reports going back twenty years have exposed the dark side of Irish society and have questioned our fondly held belief that Ireland is a good place to be a child. At One in Four we work with men and women who were raped and sexually assaulted when they were children and whose lives have been devastated. Most were sexually abused in their own families. In many situations the abuse could have been stopped or prevented if only adults had acted. I believe that if passed this Referendum will help to ensure that the learning from the terrible Reports will be put into practice and that we will create a culture where every adult knows that they are responsible for the wellbeing every child.
Of course for this to happen we have to make sure that the referendum will be passed.
September 19, 2012
SEPTEMBER 19TH 2012
ONE IN FOUR WARMLY WELCOMES THE WORDING FOR THE CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM ON CHILDREN
One in Four warmly welcomes the wording published today for the Constitutional Referendum on Children and congratulates Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, for her tremendous work in bringing it forward.
Executive Director Maeve Lewis says: “The wording published today is robust but balanced. It places the best interest of the child at the heart of all decisions regarding a child’s welfare and protection, and ensures that where appropriate, the child’s views will be taken into account in making those decisions. We are especially pleased that the wording contains the word “shall” rather than “may”, thus creating an imperative for the Courts or other agencies to consider always what is best for the child.“
“The provisions will allow that children of married parents who are in long-term care with no possibility of reconciliation with their families will be given a second chance of belonging to a loving family through adoption”.
“Concerns that the State will unduly interfere in family life should also be allayed by the wording. The State can only intervene in exceptional cases in a manner proportionate to the extent to which the safety or welfare of the child is prejudiced.”
Maeve Lewis ends: “Reports going back twenty years have exposed the dark side of Irish society and have belied our fondly held belief that Ireland is a good place to be a child. At One in Four we work with men and women who were raped and sexually assaulted when they were children and whose lives have been devastated by this experience. Most were sexually abused in their own families. In many situations the abuse could have been stopped or prevented if only adults had acted. I believe that if passed this Referendum will help to ensure that the learning from the terrible Reports will be put into practice and that we will create a culture where every adult knows that they are responsible for the wellbeing every child.”
September 6, 2012
SEPTEMBER 5TH 2012
ONE IN FOUR WELCOMES PUBLICATION OF CATHOLIC CHURCH AUDITS
One in Four welcomes the publication today of the National Board for Safeguarding Children’s child protection audits of four dioceses and three religious orders. It is heartening to see how some dioceses and orders have embraced a policy of transparent child protection and are working hard to implement good practice. However, we are also shocked and alarmed by revelations of appalling practice where the pain and suffering of victims could have been prevented. In some areas of the Church it is as if the Ferns, Ryan, Dublin and Cloyne Reports had never happened. Standing out for particular criticism are the Diocese of Clonfert, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Spiritans. The audits show that there is a lack of structure and policy, very low awareness of the safeguarding issues and little documentation to show how allegations have been dealt with. Priests against whom substantial allegations had been made were not managed properly, leaving open the possibility that they would abuse other children.
Executive Director Maeve Lewis says: "These audits examined child protection practices right up to the present day. It is beyond belief that children are still at risk of sexual abuse in certain areas of the Catholic Church and that the lessons of the statutory reports have not been learned. This undermines the very positive efforts that have been made in other dioceses and congregations to keep children safe. It is particularly worrying that in the case of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart it was only when a Senator used Senate privilege to name an alleged offender that action was taken by the order and the civil authorities despite a long series of credible allegations being made against priests in the order".
“It is as if certain senior Churchmen continue to believe that child protection procedures are optional and they are above the law of the land. We know from that past that children were abused because church leaders protected sex offenders. I believe that where possible, the Gardai should now investigate if these senior men are in breach of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 and if there is evidence to show that they may be guilty of the crime of reckless endangerment of children.”
Maeve Lewis ends: “The Church’s response to people making allegations is also reviewed. Again, while some dioceses and congregations have excellent pastoral programmes in place, in others that is sadly not the case. This supports our experience in One in Four where far too often complainants of sexual abuse are met with a robust legal defence rather that the support they so desperately need.”
Ian Elliot and the national Board for safeguarding Children are to be commended for producing such rigorous and independent audits.
June 6, 2012
Ireland has an enormously rich cultural heritage in music, poetry, literature and drama. Themes reflecting every aspect of Irish life are explored, celebrated, mourned and mocked. Every aspect but one: sexual abuse. As we know, one in four Irish people experience sexual violence in the course of their lives. That is a mind boggling figure, but is supported by research. And the impact of sexual violence reverberates out to the families and friends of the survivors, meaning there is hardly a person in this country who has not been touch by it. So where are the songs and stories, plays and poetry that reflect this appalling reality?
After the Ryan Report we decided here at One in Four to try to bring together our country’s finest musicians, writers and comedians to create a cultural event, OMȮS, that would explore aspects of sexual abuse. The result has been overwhelming. Rarely has an artist declined our invitation to perform. This year is no exception. Around the theme of “Celebrating the work of One in Four” we have the writers John Banville and Sinead Moriarty, the poets Ciaran Carson and Moy Cannon and the musicians Regina Nathan, Eleanor McEvoy and “little x’s for eyes” and the inimitable The Nualas.
OMȮS means “honouring” in Irish and that is what the evening is all about. Honouring the suffering endured in secrecy and silence, naming it out loud. But also celebrating the resilience of survivors and the lives they have built – we have had some wonderful comic performances too. This year OMȮS takes place on Sunday June 17th at 7pm in the Pepper canister Church. Do come along and help us to talk about sexual abuse.
Tickets are available from http://www.oneinfour.ie/help-us/shop/