Saturday 18 November 2017

Andrew Madden: Let's prove that our children really do matter

THERE is a lot of talk these days about children. Very welcome too, especially when it's accompanied by the sort of actions we see from the new Department of Children and Youth Affairs, with which those of us who have a genuine interest in the safety, welfare, protection and rights of children are familiar.

A lot of the talk most recently is in the context of the children's referendum set for Saturday, November 10. This referendum comes in the context of many changes in the area of child protection including the Children First Bill, the National Vetting Bureau Bill and the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences Against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act. You'd be hard pressed in the current climate to conclude anything other than that children really do seem to matter these days. It wasn't always so.

Almost 18 years ago, I went public about my experience of child sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest, Fr Ivan Payne, in the Dublin parish where I had served as an altar boy. In doing so, I was telling the people of Ireland that certain Catholic bishops knew of the abuse, that I had just received financial compensation and, most importantly, the priest concerned was still a serving priest in a Dublin parish.

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