N Ireland: Child abuse revelations spark calls for case system probe

The Northern Ireland children’s commissioner Patricia Lewsley has demanded a meeting with the health minister following revelations in the Belfast Telegraph of widespread child abuse.

Cases of rapes, beatings, starvation and even deaths were reported in today’s Belfast Telegraph. The newspaper obtained the information from case management reviews (similar to serious case reviews) by using Freedom of Information requests.

The revelations prompted Lewsley to request a meeting with health minister Michael McGimpsey to discuss how lessons from case management reviews “have been applied systematically to the child protection systems”. 

“If we are seeing the same systematic failures repeated, the question has to be asked if the death of the children in the later cases might not have been prevented,” she said.

Government response

The Department of Health said that the cases were from before 2007 when the child protection system was reformed and referrals of children have risen 24% in the past five years.

McGimpsey said that child protection had improved in recent years with more money invested and better links with health services. He also said that case management systems were important sources of learning for social workers.

“Social workers provide invaluable help and support to thousands of vulnerable families. Their excellent work with highly complex and difficult cases is often unrecognised, yet they make a huge difference to the lives of many children and families,” he said

The revelations come only two days after the Ryan Commission in the Irish Republic reported on decades of children’s abuse at the hands of Catholic Church officials and cover-ups. 








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