Explore the Ryan Report

1 entry for Brian Lenihan


When the Government launched Children First in 1999, it made a commitment to review and evaluate the effectiveness of the guidelines within a reasonable time frame. No such review had occurred up to the publication of the Ferns Inquiry78 in 2005, but in his response to the report, the then Minister for Children, Mr Brian Lenihan TD, undertook to conduct a review of national compliance with the guidelines. To this end, advertisements were placed in the national newspapers inviting interested parties to comment on Children First, meetings were held with key stakeholders and Secretary Generals of government departments and a study was commissioned to explore the views of service users. Responses to the consultation process indicated that while there were difficulties and variations in practice around the country, there was general satisfaction with the contents of Children First and that most of the obstacles to their implementation were concerned with local operations and infrastructures rather than the guidelines per se. Recommendations from the review suggested that revised guidelines should spell out more clearly the roles of different government departments in protecting children and promoting their welfare and require each public body to produce relevant policies and procedures. Measures to reduce re-offending were also proposed, including Garda vetting. The review noted current difficulties for members of the public and professionals in accessing the system in order to report concerns and suggested measures to alleviate this situation. Methods to quality assure practices in the different areas, early intervention and the establishment of local and regional structures to support the child protection services were also suggested.79 The service users’ study focused more generally on the child protection system but questioned the usefulness of the use of the ‘inconclusive’ category as an outcome of investigation given the difficulties that it caused. It also recommended the adoption of a differential response to reported concerns about children.80 The Ombudsman for Children also raised concern about the implementation of Children First in November 2008 following a number of complaints to her office, and she announced an investigation into HSE child protection practices in that regard.

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