Child abuse survivors call for probe into ISPCC

SURVIVORS of child abuse have called for a full investigation into the role of the Irish Society for the Protection of Children (ISPCC) in delivering children into institutions.

The Right to Place organisation wants leaders of the ISPCC to be quizzed publicly about the past deeds of members of the organisation.

An investigator appointed by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is expected to complete his report into the role of the courts before the end of the year.

Part of his report will deal with the role of the ISPCC and other voluntary organisations.

ISPCC inspectors, known as “the cruelty men”, were charged with checking up on children, then taking them to court for a judge to decide whether they should be sent to an industrial or reform school.

In some cases, the inspector would then bring the child to the institution. Inspectors also collected from the parent a weekly allowance for the upkeep of the child, according to the Right to Place organisation.

Noel Barry, of Right to Place, said he attempted to find out information about the role of the ISPCC inspector in his removal from his unwed mother, who, he later found out, paid two shillings and six pence a week to the inspector.

He received a reply stating that no files existed. Many of the organisation’s files were destroyed in a fire in the 1970s.

ISPCC chief executive Paul Gilligan said his organisation had co-operated fully with the commission. Citing confidentiality, he did not want to say whether the remaining files had been handed over to the commission or whether its investigator had been in contact.

“The ISPCC had a role to play in Irish society in terms of child protection, always acting as a voluntary organisation. The ISPCC never had the power to place children into care, that was up to the courts,” he said.

He said the ISPCC would like to see evidence of inappropriate or damaging behaviour by its workers, many of whom were “acting in the best interests of the children at the time”.

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