The long road to mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse in the Republic of Ireland

The Commission to inquire into child abuse in the Republic of Ireland published its report (commonly known as The Ryan Report) on the 20 May 2009.

One of the recommendations of that report was that Children First: The National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children should be uniformly and consistently implemented throughout the state in dealing with allegations of abuse. The guidelines assisted people in recognising child abuse and neglect, and in reporting reasonable concerns but it did not amount to mandatory reporting.

Following the publication of the Ryan Report, the Irish Government prepared and published a detailed Implementation Plan in July 2009.

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Vicarious liability – an ever moving target

One of the most difficult challenges when responding to claims for damages consequent upon sexual abuse is trying to determine who is potentially liable for payment of claims, provision of care or other rehabilitation services.

It is clear that anyone who abuses another person will bear personal responsibility but they are often not a real target for reparations as they often have limited assets or, as in many non-recent cases, they have died or cannot be located.

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The serious matter of ‘upskirting’

“Upskirting” is the practice of taking a picture up the skirt or dress of a female and is sometimes part of a programme of harassment by the person taking the picture, but can often occur without the victim ever being aware.

Recent media coverage of this issue has once again shown how technology and the misuse of technology is well ahead of the law.

Reports have suggested that this practice is widespread with reports of pictures being taken at bus stops, on the tube, at festivals and at schools.  There are even websites dedicated to the publication of the pictures taken.

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Can a cost be put on redress?

The task of trying to put a value on a potential redress scheme is daunting, but is one which is being tackled in Northern Ireland and is likely to be considered in Scotland and England and Wales.

On Monday 17 October representatives of victims and survivors groups in Northern Ireland presented a paper entitled “A Cost Analysis of A Proposed Redress Scheme for Historical Institutional Abuse” in the Long Gallery at Stormont. In the room were survivors and victims, MLAs and members of the media.

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Facebook evidence to be preserved for civil proceedings

The issue of abuse and how it relates to our everyday lives was again highlighted in a new ruling in the High Court in Northern Ireland.  An unidentified woman has succeeded in obtaining an order against Facebook which requires them to freeze access to accounts held by two individuals. This comes in parallel proceedings to a claim by the lady against the individuals for damages for breach of privacy.  This order bans the users from accessing or altering their accounts in any way.

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HIA starts hearing Kincora evidence

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) will start hearing evidence into allegations of abuse in Kincora.

This follows the ruling of the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland last week rejecting the Judicial Review application by Gary Hoy, a former resident of Kincora Home.

The Module will open today (31 May) and former residents and staff are likely to be called to give evidence.  It is also believed that MI5 and MI6 have agreed to participate although it is not clear if they will provide direct evidence.


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Written by Fintan Canavan, partner

Kincora update

Further to our earlier blog on the issue of the overlap between inquiries judgment has now been given in the case of Gary Hoy, a former resident of Kincora, who sought to have the matters relating to the former children’s home at Kincora reviewed as part of the Goddard Inquiry.

Mr Hoy’s appeal failed. The Lord Chief Justice confirmed that the HIA could continue to investigate the matter under their terms of reference. Mr Hoy shouted “cover up” as he left the court.


Canavan_F-BLM7-web

Written by Fintan Canavan, partner