...in the light of the Ryan Commission Report.

Noel Howard, the past president of the Irish Social Care Workers Association

I'll examine the past 40 years in residential care generally in Ireland and the optimism which permeated the sector from 1970 onwards with the publication of the Kennedy Report on Industrial & Reformatory Schools in Ireland, and the Castle Priory Report (Barbara Kahan) in the UK which was well publicised here. Training featured strongly in both these reports as did the plight of children in the courts, and legislative change proposals. These changes may have been slow to progress but a sense that "care can be good" became evident. All this was reversed by the emerging scandals of the early 1990s and the subsequent media attention, leading to the Redress Board scheme and the Child Abuse Commission (ultimately the Ryan Commission). Any gains made in public sympathy for the child care system have largely been lost and with the publication of the Ryan Commission’s Report, the residential sector here faces a huge climb to reverse the stigma that now, more than ever, attaches to it. I'll be considering the impact it has had on Church & State and where possibly it might all go from here.

In an Irish context now to even suggest that any questioning of the Ryan Report (think here with reference to the Waterhouse Report in England) would bring a torrent of criticism as the mood here is distinctly on the side of the victims who have a number of groups working assiduously to get the Redress Board compensation topped up (significantly) for all those who got awards. Needless to say, the legal profession here has not exactly covered itself in glory either but that's another story. To say it's a vexed question would certainly be an understatement but I will attempt to make sense of it.

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