It is now almost two months since the Ryan report was presented to the public. Since that time there has been huge public anger; huge public outcry; but very little action by the government to address the issues raised by Ryan.
At a press conference in Dublin today (16/07/09), the Workers Party put forward a series of proposals dealing with issues from childcare to education which we believe flow directly from Ryan.
The Press Conference was chaired by Malachy Steenson (Solictor), and addressed by, amongst others, Mary Diskin (Spokesperson on Education) and former Dublin City Councillor Andy Smith.
Below we reprint the complete introduction. The full document can be downloaded by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.
The Ryan Report on Institutional Child Abuse was published eight weeks ago. It caused a general outcry in society. Across every level of society there was agreement on three general demands: Justice for the victims; Punishment for the perpetrators and those who covered up these crimes; A guarantee that such abuse could never happen again.
One week later, on 27th May the Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan issued a comprehensive statement on the Ryan Report. In the statement she is quite critical of government inaction and says:
“It is imperative that the implementation in full of all of the Commission’s recommendations takes place as a matter of urgency. As Ombudsman for Children I have a statutory role to give advice to Ministers on matters relating to the rights and welfare of children. I will exercise this role fully in light of the recommendations of the Commission.
It is incumbent upon me to highlight the following concerns raised by my Office:
* There is currently no independent inspection of residential centres for children with intellectual disabilities in
* Children who have come to Ireland from other countries and are here alone without any parents or adults to look out for them are accommodated in private hostels operated outside of the regular child care system. Known as ‘separated children’, they receive sub-standard services despite their vulnerability and it has been widely reported that over 350 of these children have gone missing from care since 2000.
* Boys aged 16 and 17 continue to be detained in St Patrick’s Institution, a prison, despite the adoption of legislation in 2001 which committed the State to removing all children from the adult prison system. Conditions in St Patrick’s Institution have been widely criticised by national and international bodies.
* Large numbers of children considered at risk have not been allocated a social worker.
* A significant number of schools in the country are not implementing the Stay Safe programme which aims to develop children’s ability to recognise, resist and report risk situations or abusive encounters.
* We still do not have an independent child death review mechanism in Ireland. When children in the care of the State die there is no independent review of the case outside the coronial process”.
In the Sunday Tribune of 12th July 2009 we find a front-page headline “Bord Snip targets children’s watchdog”. Is this how the government reacts to legitimate criticism? Is this how the government will respond to the recommendations of the Ryan Report?
Despite the pious bleating by the government at the time of the publication of Ryan their actions have continued to point to an anti-children bias in policy. In early June the government, through the Minister for Education announced the closure of over 100 special education classes that were there to meet the specific needs of some of the most vulnerable children in society - those with Mild General Learning Disability. Nine weeks after its publication nothing has been done to remedy the glaring abuse of children highlighted by the 2008 Annual Report by the Inspector of Mental Health Services in which Dr Patrick Devitt wrote? -“Over 200 children have been admitted to approved centres for adults in 2008. This practice is inexcusable, counter-therapeutic and almost purely custodial”.
The Workers Party believes every victim of institutional child abuse must be recognised and given proper recompense. Every perpetrator and cover-up accomplice must face the full rigour of the law. The 2002 agreement entered into by then Taoiseach Berie Ahern and Minister Michael Woods must be repudiated by the state and its terms completely re-negotiated.
This report however does not concentrate on these demands. It concentrates instead on putting forward policies and ideas to ensure that the widespread abuse of children under the care of the state can never happen again. It also concentrates on constitutional and structural matters to allow Ireland to build a future where the words, deliberately omitted from the 1937 constitution, “Cherishing all of the children of the nation equally” becomes a reality.
The Ard Comhairle
The Workers Party
16th July 2009
*Copies of the Workers Party document are available on request from Head Office, Telephone: (01) 8561879.