CIDP Statement following the Publication of the Ryan Commission Report
The recently published Ryan Commission report details the shocking abuse of Deaf children especially in St. Joseph's Institution. The number of cases and the types of abuse indicate that this was endemic in the Institution. Bad as this abuse was, it was compounded by the fact that the children abused were Deaf and without a voice.
It is no consolation to anyone including the victims and the current Board of the Catholic Institute for Deaf People (CIDP) (now the trustees of the Schools and Managers of the Residential Centres), that this happened in a different era and under different Management. It still happened, clearly people knew that children were abused and nothing was done to protect them. To all of those people, the current Management apologises unreservedly.
The legacy of that abuse must be dealt with in a way that makes it clear that this must never happen again and our responsibility is now to the children currently in the care of CIDP. The CIDP Board can assure the parents and the children who attend CIDP schools and residences that the highest levels of care and reporting are currently provided. Child Protection policies and procedures have been in place for a number of years, and all staff have been vetted and trained. Designated specialist staff have been appointed to ensure that the procedures are operating effectively and that proper reporting of any case of suspected abuse takes place. In addition to this, CIDP conducts an annual audit of its procedures and their implementation which is overseen by an independent third party child protection expert.
In the past, the Schools and Residential Centres were managed by religious orders who provided a high standard of education for many children but in respect of abuse there was no reporting system, no recognition of the problem, and no safeguards. Also for the children and their parents in the past there was no recourse to a structure that would speak up for a child or parent, indeed the prevailing culture at that time would have felt constrained from doing so.
Since then fundamental changes in the structure have taken place, new Management structures, Boards of Management, Standards of Governance, Lay Principals and Directors of Care, Lay Chairpersons on each Board and clear Policies and Procedures, training and critically, supervision.
The systems in place currently are very sensitive, showing up any issue of bullying or teenage sexual exploration. There is zero tolerance and all issues are recorded and reported by experienced trained professional staff to the appropriate outside bodies.
CIDP has also made available through a number of independent channels, counselling supports together with interpretation services for those affected by past abuse in the Schools and Residences for Deaf children and indeed for our current and past staff who are themselves shocked at what transpired in earlier years. Information on these services and the full suite of CIDP child protection policies can be found on our Child Protection - Policies and Procedures page.