Minister Foley announces details of Scoping Inquiry to shape Government’s response to revelations of historical sexual abuse in schools run by religious orders
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Minister for Education Norma Foley today (Tuesday 7 March), following a government decision, announced the establishment of a scoping inquiry, to shape Government’s response to revelations of historical sexual abuse in schools run by religious orders.
The scoping inquiry will be led by Mary O’Toole, Senior Counsel.
The inquiry will be informed by reports and inputs from experts across a range of areas, including child protection, restorative justice and, most importantly, survivor engagement as well as analysis of previous inquiries including the Ferns Report, Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation.
At the end of the process, the Lead will submit a report, including recommendations for next steps, to the Minister.
Minister Foley said:
“The revelations of abuse in a number of schools are deeply disturbing and heart-breaking. I and indeed the whole of government are very conscious of the enormous trauma which has been endured by all survivors of abuse.
“It is vitally important that survivors of historical child sexual abuse have the opportunity to be heard in full, and with appropriate respect and sensitivity.
“I have said that survivors need to know that there will be a serious response from Government. Today, with the support of Government, I am announcing the first stage of this response.
“In preparing for the establishment of this scoping inquiry, I have met with a number of survivors and wider representative survivor support, as well as child protection and other experts.
“I would like to thank Mary O’Toole for agreeing to oversee this scoping inquiry, to give full consideration to the views of survivors and experts, and to provide me with recommendations as to the next steps required.
“The views of survivors are integral to this consideration, and this scoping inquiry, including survivor engagement process, provides an appropriate way of enabling survivors to give their input, along with the views of experts in areas such as restorative justice and child protection.
“I commend the courage of those who have come forward and indeed all of those who have been living with the impact of this abuse for many years.”
The scoping inquiry will have survivor engagement as a central part of its work. The survivor engagement process will allow the views of those who are most directly affected to be heard clearly, and ensure that the recommendations set out in the Lead’s final report to the Minister are informed by the outcomes sought by survivors.
The process will be conducted by facilitators trained in trauma-informed practice. This engagement will take many forms, including, in the initial stages, a questionnaire, as well as facilitated workshops and individual engagement.
Survivors who wish to register their interest in the process can find details of how to do so at www.gov.ie/EducationScopingInquiry
Further information on this process will be published on this website as the scoping inquiry progresses.
The remit of the scoping inquiry is to shape the government’s response to revelations of historical sexual abuse in schools run by religious orders. The Lead will oversee the scoping inquiry and, at the end of the process, will submit a report to the Minister for Education, including recommendations on next steps.
Survivors of historical sexual abuse who wish to register their interest in participating in the survivor engagement process can do so by emailing email@example.com by 17 April 2023.
Survivors are asked to provide the following details:
Survivors can also call 090-6483610 to register their interest.
The main purpose of the survivor engagement process is to identify what survivors would like to see happen next.
No one will be asked to provide an account of their experiences at this time.
The [external-link Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 | Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 ] provides direction and guidance to school authorities and to school personnel in relation to meeting their statutory obligations under the Children First Act 2015 and in the continued implementation of the best practice guidance set out in Children First.
The department’s Inspectorate ensure that a school is complying with the requirements of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017.
Where an inspector identifies deficiencies in relation to the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017, they follow up until the school is compliant.
Further information on child protection in schools can be found at: gov.ie - Child protection procedures in schools (www.gov.ie)
Anyone with reasonable grounds for concern that a child may have been, is being, or is at risk of being abused, harmed or neglected should contact Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
More details are available here: How do I report a concern about a child? Tusla - Child and Family Agency
The Sexual Crime Management Unit at the Garda National Protective Services Bureau is the central point of contact for reports of clerical sexual abuse. A dedicated email address has been set up to support the reporting of such crimes: GNPSB_SCMU@garda.ie
People who wish to report such crimes can also contact their local Garda station, the Sexual Crime Management Unit (01-6663430), or the Garda Child Sexual Abuse Reporting Line (1800 555 222). This is a confidential and free service which is available to the public on a 24/7 basis.