Report on Implementation of Child Abuse Inquiry Recommendations

Posted on: 10 December 2013

Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, recently launched a new report on the implementation of child abuse inquiry recommendations at Trinity College Dublin. An Examination of Recommendations from Inquiries into Events in Families, their Interactions with State Services and their Impact on Policy and Practice was authored by Dr Helen Buckley, Associated Professor in Social Work, and Dr Caroline O’Nolan, Adjunct Assistant Professor, from Trinity’s School of Social Work and Social Policy.

The research was commissioned by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs as a result of the Ryan Report, and set out to examine the implementation of recommendations resulting from five Inquiries into child abuse in families between 1993 and 2010: the Kilkenny Incest Inquiry; the Kelly Fitzgerald report; the West of Ireland Farmer Case; the Monageer Inquiry and the Roscommon Child Abuse Case. The research also looked at what types of recommendations were most likely to improve children’s services and to identify key issues for policy and practice development.

The Minister welcomed the findings and urged all involved in the work of organisational and service review to use the report as a basis to examine how we go about our business. The report found that the main recommendations had been implemented and said that due to organisational changes, it was difficult to track the progress of others. It highlighted the difficulties in making recommendations that can be generalised across organisations, and that stand up over time.

Speaking at the launch Minister Fitzgerald commented: “Doctors Buckley and O’Nolan have created an intellectual space for policy makers, advocacy organisations, regulators and those charged with service delivery to think about how to undertake case inquiries and what type of recommendations contribute to real and sustainable change. The report makes a useful distinction between  the independence of an inquiry findings, and the need for those making the recommendations and those who implement them  to work together to ensure the recommendations fit the key learning with the organisation.”

“I am very pleased to see that many inquiry recommendations have acted as a mechanism for positive change. While it concerns me that the findings of this study has also revealed a type of ‘recommendation fatigue’ following the succession of inquiries, it is as important to note that this research report provides clear advice, based on international review and  how to  approach future reports.”

Dr Buckley added:  “While the study has determined that inquiry recommendations, particularly those from the Kilkenny report, have acted as a mechanism for positive change, the findings of this study have revealed a type of ‘recommendation fatigue’ which has developed following the succession of inquiries. It could be inferred that a critical mass has now been reached and the benefits from inquiries have succumbed to the law of diminishing returns.”