16/04/13: Statement by the Minister of State in the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht with regard to child abuse allegations on courses organised by Coláiste na bhFiann
Minister of State, Dinny McGinley, T.D., issued this statement today (16 April 2013) with regard to child sexual abuse allegations on courses organised by Coláiste na bhFiann.
“I am very concerned at the recent reports in the media with regard to these allegations. While they relate to a period before my appointment as Minister of State, I must emphasise the importance of ensuring that effective child protection systems are in place in the Irish colleges.
I wish to point out that there are robust child protection systems in place that seek to ensure, as far as possible, that child abuse cannot take place in the Irish colleges or in the households accommodating students attending colleges in the Gaeltacht. The child protection systems which are in place comprise the following elements:
• The college authorities are required to develop and implement written policies to prevent any form of child abuse, bullying or anti-social behaviour during courses.
• My Department, in cooperation with CONCOS (the umbrella organisation for the colleges), assists with the training of college employees with regard to the implementation of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs’ Children First guidelines.
• Employees of the colleges and households providing accommodation to students are vetted by the Central Vetting Unit of An Garda Síochána.
Following the recent child sexual abuse allegations, discussions have taken place between my Department, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Office of the Attorney General regarding this matter. My Department has formally reported this matter to the Health Service Executive with a view to ensuring that any person wishing to do so can access adult counselling services.”