Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Child abuse report being 'carefully considered' in Northern Ireland, says minister

The Ryan Report into child abuse in the Irish Republic is being carefully considered in Northern Ireland, the Health Minister said today.

Michael McGimpsey's officials are considering whether there are any cross-border implications after the public inquiry in the south discovered thousands of victims of clerical sexual and physical violence.

The minister said there were strict vetting restrictions on who could work with children in the province.

"I was concerned to learn about the level of abuse highlighted by the Ryan Report. Officials are considering the report and whether there are any implications for Northern Ireland," he said.

Ireland's Catholic bishops have called the Ryan Report the most recent disturbing indictment of a culture that was prevalent in their church for far too long.

Survivors want the abuse recognised and better compensation. Religious orders including the Sisters of Mercy and Christian Brothers were implicated in a scandal stretching back decades. The Brothers historically had a presence in Northern Ireland, now through the Edmund Rice Schools Trust.

Mr McGimpsey was asked about the issue by Alliance leader David Ford in an Assembly written question.

The minister added legislation due later this year will further strengthen protection for children and vulnerable adults in workplace situations.

It will significantly extend the range of activities and workplaces from which individuals may be barred from working with children and vulnerable adults. "Consequently, many more individuals than at present who may pose a risk to children or vulnerable adults can be removed from the workplace," he added.

There will be a regional independently-chaired safeguarding board for children's welfare.

Mr Ford said: "Whilst it is clear that standards in Northern Ireland have generally been higher than in the Republic for child protection it is disappointing that our Department still appears to be considering the implications of the Ryan Report.

"Clearly in the past there were many problems in the Republic and the minister has a duty to inform us of the implications in Northern Ireland when his officials have made a detailed study."

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