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Press Release One in Four Warmly Welcomes the Wording For the Constitutional Referendum on Children

September 19, 2012





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.”   



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One in Four Welcomes Publication of Catholic Church Audits

September 6, 2012





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.

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Talking About Sexual Abuse

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

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May 2, 2012

One in Four says today that new revelations about Cardinal Brady’s role in the Brendan Smith affair require an explanation from the Cardinal.   A BBC documentary revealed that the Cardinal had information about other children who were being abused at the time, but failed to act.

The documentary suggests that many children could have been protected from the sexual predator if Cardinal Brady had not been so invested in protecting the Church.  Executive Director Maeve Lewis says “It will be heartbreaking for survivors to realise that their suffering could have been avoided if only action had been taken”

Maeve Lewis continues: “While on paper the Church now has good child protection practices, this documentary casts a shadow on the credibility of Cardinal Brady as a leader of the new policy.  Although the times were very different then, it is unimaginable that any adult had such knowledge and failed to act”

Maeve Lewis ends “This devastating situation highlights how important it is that legislation is in place to keep children safe.  The new Children First Bill and the Withholding Information Bill will, when enacted, prevent such catastrophic failures to keep children safe.”

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Categories: Press Releases.


May 1, 2012

One in Four today broadly welcomed the Children First Bill in a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children. Speaking to TDs and Senators One in Four applauded the introduction of clear, unambiguous legal obligations for statutory and voluntary agencies and for designated professionals to report concerns of child abuse and neglect to the HSE Child Protection Services.

However, One in Four expressed concern that the new legislation did not sufficiently acknowledge the role of agencies and professionals working with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and the obligations of the HSE to investigate retrospective allegations. Executive Director Maeve Lewis told the Committee: “The reality is that most children do not tell. They wait until they are grown up and feel safe. But just because the abuse happened years ago does not mean that the sex offender is no longer a danger to children. The man who abused his daughters may now be abusing his grandchildren. The legislation must address this explicitly.”

Maeve Lewis also spoke of the danger of frightening people from coming forward for help. She said: “Survivors are often reluctant to report because they fear, often with good reason, the reactions of family and friends. The last thing anybody wants is to deny survivors access to services and silence them further. Resources must be put in place to provide skilled professional support to help people consider the implications of disclosing and while making a report”.

One in Four estimates that only 10% of the notifications we make to the HSE child protection services are examined. Maeve Lewis continues: “If this legislation is to be effective, resources will have to be put in place to ensure that all substantial allegations are investigated. Despite the harsh economic environment, choices need to be made if we are serious about protecting children. Otherwise the legislation is pointless”.

Maeve Lewis ended: “ In the past children were abused and tortured in plain sight because adults turned away and did not act. The Children First legislation will help to foster a culture where it becomes the responsibility of all adults to ensure that all children are safe.”

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