Minister Foley announces details of Scoping Inquiry to shape Government’s response to revelations of historical sexual abuse in schools run by religious orders.

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By Meraj Abid

Dublin. Irish Minister for Education Norma Foley TD today, Tuesday 7 March, following a Government decision, announced the establishment of a scoping inquiry, to shape Government’s response to revelations of historical sexual abuse in schools run by religious orders.
 The scoping inquiry will be led by Mary O’Toole, Senior Counsel.
 The inquiry will be informed by reports and inputs from experts across a range of areas, including child protection, restorative justice and, most importantly, survivor engagement as well as analysis of previous inquiries including the Ferns Report, Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation.  
 At the end of the process, the Lead will submit a report, including recommendations for next steps, to the Minister.
Minister Foley said: “The revelations of abuse in a number of schools are deeply disturbing and heart-breaking. I and indeed the whole of Government are very conscious of the enormous trauma which has been endured by all survivors of abuse.
 “It is vitally important that survivors of historical child sexual abuse have the opportunity to be heard in full, and with appropriate respect and sensitivity.
 “I have said that survivors need to know that there will be a serious response from Government. Today, with the support of Government, I am announcing the first stage of this response.
“In preparing for the establishment of this scoping inquiry, I have met with a number of survivors and wider representative survivor support, as well as child protection and other experts.
“I would like to thank Mary O’Toole for agreeing to oversee this scoping inquiry, to give full consideration to the views of survivors and experts, and to provide me with recommendations as to the next steps required.
 “The views of survivors are integral to this consideration, and this scoping inquiry, including survivor engagement process, provides an appropriate way of enabling survivors to give their input, along with the views of experts in areas such as restorative justice and child protection.
 “I commend the courage of those who have come forward and indeed all of those who have been living with the impact of this abuse for many years.”
 The scoping inquiry will have survivor engagement as a central part of its work. The survivor engagement process will allow the views of those who are most directly affected to be heard clearly, and ensure that the recommendations set out in the Lead’s final report to the Minister are informed by the outcomes sought by survivors. 
 The process will be conducted by facilitators trained in trauma-informed practice. This engagement will take many forms, including, in the initial stages, a questionnaire, as well as facilitated workshops and individual engagement.
 Survivors who wish to register their interest in the process can find details of how to do so at gov.ie/educationscopinginquir

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