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The Age of Inquiry: A global mapping of institutional abuse inquiries

Ireland Child Abuse Commission

Title: The Age of Inquiry: A global mapping of institutional abuse inquiries

Author: Wright, K., Swain, S. and Skold, J.

Publication: Melbourne: La Trobe University

Date: 2017

Inquiry Title: The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Ryan Commission)

Alternative Name: Ryan Commission

Website: http://www.childabusecommission.ie/index.html

Inquiry Type: Independent Statutory Inquiry

Location: Ireland


On 11 May 1999 the Government apologised to victims of child abuse in Irish institutions and the Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern, announced the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry. The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA) was first established as a non-statutory inquiry in May 1999, under Judge Mary Laffoy, and became a statutory inquiry one year later, on 23 May 2000. The Inquiry sought to examine the causes, nature, circumstances and extent of abuse on children in institutions from the period of 1936 onwards. The Commission was charged with making recommendations in relation to dealing with the effects of abuse and to prevent or reduce the incidence of abuse and protect children in institutions.

The Process
The Commission comprised two separate and distinct Committees: the Confidential Committee and the Investigation Committee. The Confidential Committee heard the evidence of child abuse from victims and survivors in a confidential setting and in a sympathetic way. This evidence was not contested. The Investigation Committee, by contrast, drew on contested evidence. People who wished to give evidence had to choose whether to give evidence to either the Confidential or Investigation Committee.

Governing Legislation
Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act, 2000

Public Hearings
The investigation into most schools consisted of a Phase I public hearing. This allowed the congregation involved to present their case. Phase II were private hearings into specific allegation of abuse. Phase III involved public hearings in which the congregation responded to the evidence. In addition to investigations into schools and other institutions, Phase III public hearings also included Departments of Education and Science; Justice, Equality and Law Reform; and Health and Children, as well as hearings into the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC).

For more information visit: http://www.lib.latrobe.edu.au/research/ageofinquiry/biogs/E000084b.htm

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