Maeve Lewis to stand down from One in Four charity for sexual abuse survivors

Long-serving chief executive ‘made Ireland a different place’ for survivors, says chair in tribute

One of Ireland’s best-known advocates for abuse survivors is to retire next April following 16 years as chief executive of the One in Four support agency. Maeve Lewis “made Ireland a different place for survivors of childhood sexual abuse”, said chair of One in Four’s board of trustees Catherine Heaney.

Ms Lewis “created an enabling environment in which to talk about abuse”, had “elevated the quality and level of services available for survivors through counselling, psychotherapy and court advocacy services” and “shifted the policy response to this trauma”, she said.

“Her vision has introduced prevention programmes at One in Four and while, unfortunately, the demand for this service grows it is a demonstration of her broad thinking and response-orientated approach. We are indebted to Maeve and wish her well in her retirement,” said Ms Heaney.

Since 2003 One in Four has offered support for abuse survivors as well as professional counselling services to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. It has accompanied survivors to court as support in legal actions, while also working with abusers as part of its child protection programmes.


Ms Lewis’s successor is One in Four’s director of advocacy and deputy chief executive Deirdre Kenny. Her appointment followed a competitive process which was supported by Osbourne Recruitment.

Welcoming Ms Kenny as One in Four incoming chief executive, Ms Heaney said that she “brings with her enormous insight and experience from her advocacy work, and is hugely respected in the justice system for her work and interventions for survivors”.

Ms Kenny had “built a huge knowledge base and a great advocacy team at One in Four. She has the energy, foresight and depth of experience that is now needed to ensure One in Four continues to be ground-breaking; a relevant and available service for all who need it.”

Announcing that “in the coming months One in Four will prepare a new five-year strategy,” Ms Heaney said “this will be an exciting opportunity for Deirdre to set her leadership approach at One in Four and in the wider national response to sexual violence”.

She pointed out that “despite the many steps forward the nature and proliferation of childhood sexual abuse in Ireland remains a challenge. Online access, vulnerable communities and unequal relationships leave doors open for perpetrators of abuse.”

  • See our new project Common Ground, Evolving Islands: Ireland & Britain
  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here
Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times