Law being prepared to share information on potential abusers


LEGISLATION:WORK WAS “well under way” on preparing legislation to provide a statutory framework for the sharing of “soft information” on potential child abusers, Minister of State for Children Barry Andrews said in response to the Commission of Investigation Report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin.

It was “critical” that statutory and non-statutory bodies be able to report such data to the Health Service Executive and the Garda Síochána, he said yesterday.

“I will take full account . . . of the findings by the commission of investigation in relation to the collection and sharing of information.

“Heads of a Bill are being prepared by my office in consultation with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and I expect to bring these to Government in the very near future.”

In response to the recommendations of the previous Ryan report, he had published an implementation plan that included “99 specific action points” to improve the delivery of children’s services.

Mr Andrews pointed to commitments in the plan to fill 270 social work posts within the HSE’s child protection service and the drafting of legislation by December 2010, to provide that all staff employed by the State and in agencies receiving exchequer funds would have a duty to comply with the Children First national guidelines.

“The sharing of information between agencies of the State is a crucial step in improving our capability in tackling sexual abuse.There are all too many examples of poor outcomes for vulnerable children when public bodies fail to share knowledge and in some cases sensitive information.

“The sharing of soft information when it relates to allegations of sexual abuse is an onerous and heavy burden. The State must protect its citizens when they wish to pass on such information to relevant authorities pertaining to deviant sexual behaviour.”