I am delighted and honoured to hear that I will receive the Humbert Summer School 2010 Outstanding Merit Award at the School’s annual conference in August in Ballina, Co Mayo. It is over 15 years since I first went public about my experience of child sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest, something that was very difficult for me to do at that time. My primary motivation in speaking out was my concern for the safety, welfare and protection of children who were not being protected from adults known to some authorities to be a danger. Though I believe many children are safer today because there is more general awareness of risk there is still an enormous amount of work to do. Priorities for me include –
· Children First needs to be put on a statutory basis, applying to everyone, with failure to comply being a criminal offence.
· Referendum required urgently to replace Article 42 in the Constitution as proposed by Joint Oireachtas Committee in February 2010.
· Enhance the monitoring and support of convicted sex offenders on their release back into community.
· There is need for Garda Vetting of people working with children to be extended to facilitate the passing on of soft information.
· 100% implementation of Stay Safe / SPHE / RSE.
· Minimum mandatory sentences for downloading / file sharing images of child sexual abuse.
I will continue to be an active campaigner to advance the agenda of the safety, welfare and protection of children to the best of my abilities, and once again am very grateful to the Humbert Summer School for this very generous award.