State Must Respect Survivor’s Right to Consent

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) asks that the state makes every effort to engage with and consult survivors before making the decision to keep their confidential Ryan Commission and Institutional Redress board witness statements.


Fiona Neary, RCNI Director said, ‘People’s consent to changes in the terms under which they gave their witness statements must be sought. Central to sexual violence is the abuse of rights and consent; the State must not now repeat this violation. If the state acts in a way that disregards the autonomy and dignity of survivors it makes a mockery of the Ryan Commission and redress process. This is unconscionable.


‘Survivors of institutional child abuse took part in the State’s inquiries into its failures on the assurance that their testimonies would not be retained. When the commission completed its work in 2009 a decision was made not to destroy those records immediately. Now the government is to bring in a new law that will allow the state to retain these records which will likely become available to the public in 75 years.’


‘There appears to be no plans to contact or consult the approximately 3,000 survivors or their families to seek their consent on issues that are intensely private and intimate to them and their experiences of abuse when they were children.


‘These survivors, betrayed as children, by institutions, authority figures and often by the state, entrusted that same state with redress and enquiry. Their trust must continue to be earned by the state and that means the state making every effort to seek every person’s consent to the retention of their invaluable witness statements so that future generations may hear their voice and guard against such betrayals of the vulnerable.’