Irish High Court grants leave to sue State Agencies over failure to protect from child abuse

On Wednesday this week Mr Justice Peter Kelly, President of the Irish High Court granted leave to initiate legal action against State Agencies on behalf of a woman who was allegedly sexually abused by more than 12 men when she was a child. The proposed legal action against the State Agencies is to be based on their failure to protect her from the alleged abuse.

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Scouting Ireland to issue institutional apology to abuse victims

Scouting Ireland is expected to issue an institutional apology to victims of abuse in the organisations which preceded the creation of the Irish scouting group.  Scouting Ireland was created when Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland and the Scout Association of Ireland merged into a single organisation.

It is believed there have been over 320 victims identified and almost 250 alleged abusers not including cases of peer abuse allegations.  Investigations into allegations have been on going for some time now and a recent report to the Irish Minister for Children suggests that the organisation will be making an open apology to all victims.

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The right to anonymity reversed

The courts in Ireland have been faced with an unusual situation over the right to anonymity provided to victims of rape.  Rape victims are, as it is across the UK, entitled to anonymity before, during and after rape trials.

In Ireland the accused is also entitled to anonymity, under the Criminal Law (Rape) Act 1981, up to the point of conviction when that right is withdrawn.  In a case heard last year, a man was convicted of raping a woman when she was a child.  The allegations related to a period when the two grew up next door to each other.  The rapes commenced when the victim was aged nine and her attacker was 17 and continued over a two year period.

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Australia – more institutions join but redress is slow

The latest update from the National Redress Scheme (NRS) in Australia which was published last week advises that on 18 April 2019, the following institutions joined the Scheme:

  • Benedictine Community of New Norcia
  • Child and Family Services Ballarat (CAFS)
  • Scouts Tasmania
  • Yeshivah-Beth Rivkah Schools

The fifth group of Anglican organisations have also joined, represented by Anglican Representative Limited. They are:

  • Anglican Diocese of Armidale
  • Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn
  • Anglican Diocese of Wangaratta
  • Anglicare North Queensland
  • Anglicare Victoria

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The Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (‘the Lanzarote Convention’) and its incorporation into UK legislation

We have already reviewed the contents and emerging themes of IICSA’s, recently published, interim report. One particular point it made in relation to professional and political issues was the improvement that could be made by leaders in government and other institutions working with children in relation to protecting children, preventing and responding to child sexual abuse.  Continue reading

Data protection and child protection

The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, recently wrote to the largest social media companies following up on a meeting he had with them before Christmas 2017. He indicated his discontent with the slow progress they were making in areas such as age verification, screen time limits and cyber bullying.  He gave them until 30 April to respond with details of the steps they have taken in relation to those points and their intentions in relation to ‘healthy screen time’ for young users.  Possible legislation was threatened if the voluntary joint approach continued to prove unsatisfactory.  The details of their responses have yet to be made public.

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Settled or not? Some claims could reactivate

The Supreme Court in Dublin recently gave judgment in three connected cases relating to abuse by Fr. Brendan Smyth. Three plaintiffs had made allegations of abuse (with the various periods of abuse covering 1969-1988) and issued court proceedings in Northern Ireland in 1996.

Initially, two of the claims were against Cardinal Daly (as Primate of All Ireland), the then Provincial for the Norbertine Order (of which Fr. Smyth was a member), the local Abbot of the Norbertine Abbey in Kilnacrott (where Brendan Smyth was based) and Brendan Smyth himself.  One of the plaintiffs claimed only against the Abbot and Brendan Smyth.

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