March 4, 2011
All of the One in Four team members working on the sex offender programme attended the NOTA Ireland AGM last Friday. National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers (NOTA) seeks to highlight innovative service provision in Ireland for children, young people and adults who sexually harm.
The conference highlighted to me yet again the many gaps that exist in Ireland in the services and treatment provision for offenders in Ireland. At the same time I was inspired by the focus too on best practice in the area, specifically: the need for community based treatment & monitoring, and the need for support for the family/significant other in supporting the offender in living in a safe way.
With our aim of breaking the cycle of abuse and keeping children safe, One in Four has been working in the background for a number of years on offender treatment. We’re now at a point where we can expand the service and continue to introduce best practice. We’ve just settled this week on a name for the service: ‘Phoenix’, this name comes a number of months into the start of our new programme for the significant others of the offender.
It’s tough work and we’re pleased that the importance and value of the approach we have implemented is starting to take hold. Our aim is to continue to be innovative in our response to child protection, and to support and develop our work with evidence based research.
March 3, 2011
I am delighted that Sheila Nunan of the Irish National Teachers Organisation has called on the new Government to establish an open forum to look at the issue of patronage of Irish primary schools. Currently the local Bishop is Patron of almost ninety five per cent of schools. This has implications for parents who do not want a Catholic education for their children and for teachers who do not want to teach religion. But there is another aspect. In the Louise O’Keefe case in 2008 the Supreme Court ruled that the local Bishop and the Board of Management are the employers of the teaching staff and are ultimately responsible for any sexual abuse carried out by teachers. So, although the State lays down the requirements for teacher training and registration, employs inspectors to monitor the quality of teachers’ work, provides funding for the running costs of schools and pays teachers’ salaries, it is not their employer. Only in Ireland...
This leaves me with two questions. Given what we know now about the Catholic Church and sexual abuse, is a Bishop the proper person to be responsible for child protection in schools? And in the twenty first century, should not the State be ultimately responsible for all aspects of education, including the conduct of teachers? Lets have that forum.
February 28, 2011
Walking to work this morning there was a definite spring-like feel to the city. And people seemed more cheerful too – because of the weather or the bloodletting of the elections? It looks like we have chosen a Fine Gael – Labour coalition Government. As I strolled along I was wondering what this is going to mean for the community and voluntary sector in Ireland. Hundreds of charities provide vital services to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country. Like the other charities, One in Four provides professional services to people who desperately need them, and we do it on a shoestring. With more enormous cutbacks looming, will the new Government recognise and support the work we all do?
February 22, 2011
Welcome to our new blog. We will be blogging to keep you informed on matters relating to:
The blogs will be written by a range of staff members and will cover facts, reflections, opinions and thoughts. The aim is to provide an insight into the day to day running of One in Four, and the work that goes on around sexual violence and abuse.
We hope you'll come back regularly to have a read and leave a comment.
One in Four team
February 22, 2011
We’re almost on the point of voting in the general election. It has been a strangely de-energised campaign given the calamitous events of the past two years. I’ll be delighted when it is over and we can all get on with tackling the huge problems we face. I’ve been thinking about our wish list for the new Government which now seems likely to be either single party Fine Gael or a Fine Gael and Labour coalition.
Over the past eighteen months the Saving Childhood group, of which we are a member, has had a number of meetings with the leaders and spokespersons of Fine Gael and of Labour. We have asked for commitments regarding a Referendum on children’s rights and on other key child protection measures. These include placing the Children First Guidelines on a statutory footing, introducing legislation to allow the sharing of soft information about sex offenders among responsible agencies and legislation regarding the age of consent. We have found both Fine Gael and Labour to be well informed on these issues and both parties have given undertakings to address these concerns if in power.
We all know what needs to be done. The new Government will have a real opportunity to tackle child sexual abuse in a meaningful and effective manner after years of official procrastination. We will just have to wait and see.