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The Commission to Inquire into Child AbuseEntrance to the Commision in Saint Stephens Green House

Frequently Asked Questions


Q.1. What is the Commission's job?

The Commission has been given three tasks under the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act, 2000:

Q.2. What sort of abuse can I talk to the Commission about?

The Commission will investigate all types of abuse:

as long as the abuse took place before your 18th birthday.

Q.3. What institutions are covered?

Institution means any place where a child was cared for other than by his or her own family. It includes:

It also includes foster care.

Q.4. The Institution I was living in sent me to work on a farm and I was abused there. Can I go to the Commission about this?

Yes. This type of situation is included in the Commission's brief as long as you were under 18 when the abuse happened.

Q.5. How exactly will the Commission operate?

The Commission will have two Committees. They are:

These two Committees will be completely separate from each other. You will be asked to choose one Committee to tell your experiences to.

Q.6. Tell me more about the Confidential Committee

This Committee may be the right one for you if:

Therefore your evidence will not be open to challenge.

Q.7. Tell me more about the Investigation Committee

This Committee may be the right one for you if:

Q.8. How will the Investigation Committee investigate my experiences?

This Committee has a wide range of legal powers. For example it can:

Q.9. Can I start with one Committee and change to another?

Yes, provided that you have not already completed giving your evidence to one of the Committees. However, it should be noted that any information given to the first Committee will not be passed on to the other Committee and will not be taken into account by the first Committee in reaching its conclusions.

Q.10. What sort of findings will the Commission make?

The Commission's final report will contain findings from both Committees:

Q.11. Can I have legal representation when I meet the Commission?

You will not require legal representation when meeting the Confidential Committee.

Legal representation will be permissible at Investigation Committee hearings, in accordance with the Commission's procedures. Financial assistance for legal expenses will be in accordance with a scheme made under the Act.

Q.12. Will I get any help with the cost of going to Dublin?

Yes, in accordance with a scheme made under the Act.

Q.13. I get very nervous and upset when I talk about my past, will the Commission make allowances for this?

Yes. The Commission is very aware of how difficult this can be. It will give you a break if you need one. While the Commission has to be fair to all sides, it will be as informal as possible. If you would find it helpful, you are welcome to bring a companion with you for support when you meet the Commission.

If you choose to tell of your experiences to the Confidential Committee, your companion may attend your meeting with that Committee provided he or she agrees to the confidential nature of the meeting.

If you choose to have your experiences investigated by the Investigation Committee, your companion may not be present at the hearing but he or she may wait for you in a nearby room.

Q.14. What other supports will the Commission provide for me?

There will be a quiet room where you can relax before and after the meeting and there will be a member of staff available who will give you support.

Q.15. Will the Commission provide counselling?

The Commission won't be providing counselling. If you feel you would like to see a counsellor, we can give you information about special counselling services in your area.

Q.16. I would like to speak to the Commission, but I have a disability.

The Commission wants to hear from anyone who would like to tell of their experiences. No one should feel excluded because of his or her age, disability or medical situation. Before you meet us we will ask if you have any special needs or would need any particular help on the day. At that stage please let us know if you:

Q.17. I got this leaflet for my friend who'd like to meet the Commission. He can't read or write very well. Will this be a problem?

No. Please tell your friend that this won't be a problem and no one will make him feel embarrassed. There will be some forms to fill in before he comes to the Commission but these will be very easy and straightforward. The Commission staff will be happy to help him fill them up.

Q.18. Hardly anyone knows that I was in an institution. I'm worried there might be reporters or cameras there when I meet the Commission.

Absolutely not. No one from the public or the press will be allowed in when people are telling their experiences.

If you are meeting the Confidential Committee the only people there will be yourself, your companion (if you bring one), and members of that committee.

If you decide to go to the Investigation Committee anyone you accuse will be entitled to be there .An officer of the Committee and a stenographer will be present. Legal representatives may also be present.

The Commission's report will not name any individual survivors.

Q.19. Are all meetings of the Commission and the Committees going to be held in private?

No. Some meetings of the Commission and Investigation Committee will be held in public because it is important that members of the public have a chance to see that the Commission is doing its job properly and fairly. These meetings will not involve hearing the evidence of individual survivors. The Confidential Committee will not hold meetings in public.

Q.20. Will any person on the Commission report what I tell about abuse to the authorities?

No, unless the person has reason to believe that;

In any of those situations the person will be obliged to report the matter to the Gardaí or the health board to protect the child or other person at risk.

Q.21. I'd like to meet the Commission, but I live in England. My health isn't good and I wouldn't be able to travel to Dublin. Is there any way the Commission can hear of my experiences?

Yes. Special arrangements can be made in cases like this.

Q.22. I have read in the newspapers that if the person who abused me admits the abuse to the Commission he or she cannot be prosecuted or made pay damages. Is this correct?

No, this is not correct.

A person who admits wrongdoing to the Commission will not get an amnesty from prosecution or any immunity from liability for damages.

Q.23. Will coming to the Commission prevent my case being heard in the Courts?

No. Coming forward to give evidence to the Commission will not effect the right of a survivor of abuse to give evidence of the abuse in a court later.

Q.24. Will the Commission pay compensation?

No. The Commission does not have the power to pay compensation.

Q.25. So what's in it for me?

This is the first time an Irish inquiry will hear from the survivors of child abuse themselves.

The Commission's recommendations, on the sort of help; financial or otherwise; people who were abused in their past need now, will take into account what you have to say.

It is hoped that speaking to the Commission will help you in coming to terms with your past.

The Commission wants to learn from you and your experiences. It is hoped that what we will learn from you will make a real difference to children who are not in the care of their families both now and in the future.

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