RCNI welcome the launch today by Dr Katherine Zappone TD, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, in conjunction with the Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and the Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan TD, of a pilot ‘One House’ centre for children who have been sexually abused.

RCNI commend the three Ministers for this initiative. The pilot, if successful, will address many of the current serious concerns we have for how the state is meeting the needs of children who experience sexual abuse.

RCNI Executive Director, Dr Clíona Saidléar said, ‘we can’t continue to fail children who experience child abuse, this pilot has the potential to deliver, for the first time dedicated wrap-around specialisation to this area of child protection. This is long overdue. We know from adult survivors of child sexual abuse that the process of reporting as children was often deeply traumatising, leaving them feeling disbelieved and isolated and with no follow up supports in place.

‘The standard aspired to, of joint interviewing and a co-ordinated approach between Tusla and the Gardaí to child abuse is, in many cases, simply not the reality faced by families engaging with the authorities to seek support and protection for their children. This pilot is a new approach based on well-established best international practice, which seeks to ensure the aspiration of a child-centred response where the child receives support not further trauma, becomes a reality.

In parallel with this initiative, RCNI support the Dept. of Justice and Equality’s work to develop the Bill to establish a Special Court to replace the poorly equipped Family Courts in this matter. We would also urge the Ministers to look at increased transparency and accountability at every stage of the process in the interest of the children, including the operation of the in camera rule.