It’s time for Irish legislation to keep vulnerable adults safe

Posted on: 27 October 2023

The inaugural International Adult Safeguarding Conference highlighted the need to create protective and intervention systems across sectors and to introduce adult safeguarding legislation.

It’s time for Irish legislation to keep vulnerable adults safe

The first inter-sectoral and inter-disciplinary conference on adult safeguarding took place in Trinity today with members of the judiciary, financial sector, academia, Health Service Executive, advocacy groups, data protection organisations and the World Health Organisation coming together to examine the urgency for adult safe-guarding legislation in Ireland, amongst other issues. The event was an opportunity to learn from international colleagues how best practice and research findings from around the world might be applicable to Ireland.

Organisers believe that adult safeguarding is everyone’s business and a discussion on how we can create an environment where equity, equality and human rights are protected and supported in all settings for all people, is needed.

International keynote speakers, partners, delegates and faculty of the School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin

Amanda Phelan, Professor in Ageing and Community Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College said:

“Safeguarding adults from abuse is a central and important responsibility of society. Ireland must do more. This conference highlighted the need to create protective and intervention systems across sectors, introduce adult safeguarding legislation, and have a responsible agency that oversees adult safeguarding.”

A diverse line-up of speakers were part of the event, including:

  • Prof Thomas Goergen: Department of Criminology and Interdisciplinary Crime Prevention, German Police University, Muenster, Germany
  • Judge John O’Connor: Circuit Court, Four Courts, Dublin
  • Louise O’Mahony: Banking & Payments Federation of Ireland
  • Dr J.P. Nolan: Head of Quality & Patient Safety, Health Service Executive
  • Patricia Rickard-Clarke: Chair Safeguarding Ireland: Outstanding legislative gaps in adult safeguarding

(L to R) Professor Gillian Manthorpe (King’s College London), Professor Amanda Phelan (Trinity College Dublin) and Dr Yongjie Yon, (World Health Organisation)

Dr Yongjie Yon: Ageing and Health, Division of Country Health Policies and Systems, WHO Regional Office for Europe and keynote speaker, said:

“Behind every statistic lies a human story. Adults who have faced abuse aren’t just victims; they are survivors, embodying incredible resilience. Safeguarding their well-being is our collective responsibility, as we stand with them and work towards eradicating abuse.”

Gillian Manthorpe, Emerita Professor of Social Work, The Policy Institute at  King's College London and keynote speaker said:

"With contributions and participants from around the globe, this conference is an important event to share learning about the important subject of adult safeguarding.  We have heard how individuals can protect themselves and how different parts of society all have a part to play in protecting vulnerable people from harm. "

Professor Amanda Phelan concluded:

“ We had a unique opportunity today to consider how other countries have addressed adult safeguarding. We heard about approaches such as bespoke human rights-based legislation, comprehensive policy, and targeted education that have increased societies' capacity to safeguard adults who may be at risk. In this context, Ireland has a duty to act and introduce comprehensive systems to empower and safeguard all citizens.”


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