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Introduction
Misean Cara is a faith-based NGO of Irish religious and lay missionary organisations. Our members live and work long-term with marginalised and vulnerable local communities in some of the world’s most impoverished and disadvantaged regions in the areas of education, healthcare including HIV/AIDS, income generation, environmental sustainability and human rights.

Misean Cara provides a range of supports for the international development work of our members. We access and distribute funding for high quality development initiatives, providing effective oversight through monitoring, evaluation and audit. We support the enhancement of their capacity to deliver significant results through mentorship, research, learning and development activities and quality support.

Our members’ holistic approach to eliminating poverty targets the root causes of social inequalities through locally appropriate responses. In partnership with local communities, and other international and national agencies, this work continues to make a difference to the lives of the poorest. Misean Cara is governed by a Board of Directors elected by our members and is committed to implementing sector best practices to ensure that our processes and work are safe, effective, robust and transparent.

Scope of the policy

  • This document sets out Misean Cara’s Safeguarding Policy and Procedures. All staff, volunteers, consultants and Board members are required to comply with the policy, procedures and practices set out in this document.
  • Misean Cara does not work directly with children. However, we have undertaken to implement this policy in relation to Misean Cara representatives (including staff, volunteers visitors, consultants and Board members) working overseas or here in Ireland who come into contact with children in the course of their work.
  • Misean Cara requires the organisations that we fund to have in place and actively implement a safeguarding policy consistent with the law of the country in which they work and the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church Ireland (NBSCCCI).
  • Misean Cara is aware of the need to make explicit and visible our determination that our work and activities must promote the safety and security of children.
  • Throughout the process of ensuring the safety and welfare of children, professionals should be aware of differing family patterns and lifestyles, not only due to different racial, ethnic and cultural groups but also issues of age, disability, gender, religion, language and sexual orientation.

Context of the policy
Definition of a Child:
In both jurisdictions in Ireland, a child or young person is defined as anyone under the age of 18 years ‘excluding a person who is or has been married.’ (Children First: National Guidance, 2011 p8.)

Misean Cara recognises and is committed to the rights of all children to be protected from harm in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and The Hague Convention on Adoption.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted by the UN in 1989 and ratified by Ireland in 1992.

The National Children’s Strategy is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and as such, sets out the vision for children in Ireland over a ten-year period. The National Children’s Strategy advocates that all work with children and young people should, by its very nature, recognise, implement and promote the fundamental tenets of the Convention.

Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011) provides the national guidance for the protection and welfare of children in Ireland. A child is defined under the Child Care Act 1991 as anyone under the age of 18 years who is not, or has not been married. The guidance outlines key principles to inform best practice in child protection and welfare and is a roadmap to help parents, professionals, organisations and the general public to identify and report child abuse and welfare concerns. It sets out definitions of abuse and the signs that abuse may be taking place. It also states what organisations need to do to keep children safe, and what different bodies and the general public should do if they are concerned about a child’s safety and welfare.

The Children First Act 2015 puts elements of the Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011 on a statutory footing. The legislation forms part of a suite of child protection legislation which includes the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012.

The Act provides for a number of key child protection measures, as follows:

  • A requirement on organisations providing services to children to keep children safe and to produce a Child Safeguarding Statement;
  • A requirement on defined categories of persons (mandated persons) to report child protection concerns over a defined threshold to the Child and Family Agency (the Agency);
  • A requirement on mandated persons to assist the Agency in the assessment of a child protection risk, if so requested to do so by the Agency; and
  • A provision to abolish the common law defence of reasonable chastisement in relation to corporal punishment.

Our Duty to Care
Our Duty to Care was published by the Department of Health and Children in October 2002. It offers a practical guide to staff and volunteers who work with children by outlining a number of fundamental principles of good practice.

Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences against Children & Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012
It is a criminal offence for any person to fail to disclose to An Garda Síochana information in relation to certain specified offences against children and vulnerable persons.
Under the Act, a person shall be guilty of an offence if:
a) he or she knows or believes that any of the offences specified in the Act has been committed by another person against a child or vulnerable person, and
b) he or she has information which he or she knows or believes might be of material assistance in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of that other person for that offence, and
c) fails without reasonable excuse to disclose that information as soon as it is practicable to do so to a member of the Garda Síochána

National Vetting Bureau Act (Children & Vulnerable Persons) 2012 – 2016
Provides a statutory basis for the vetting of persons carrying out relevant work with children or vulnerable persons. The Act also creates offences and penalties for persons who fail to comply with its provisions.

The Act stipulates that a relevant organisation shall not permit any person to undertake relevant work or activities on behalf of the organisation, unless the organisation receives a vetting disclosure from the National Vetting Bureau in respect of that person.

Garda vetting is conducted on behalf of registered organisations only and is not conducted for individual persons on a personal basis.

If you are seeking employment or intending to volunteer with an organisation which conducts relevant work, you may be asked to make an application to be vetted.

If you have further queries about Misean Cara’s Safeguarding Policy, please contact our Designated Liaison Person at the address below.

Valerie Philpott, Safeguarding Advisor,
Misean Cara,
563 South Circular Road,
Kilmainham,
Dublin 8.
Telephone: +353 (0) 1 405 5028
Email: vphilpott@miseancara.ie

Download our Safeguarding Policy.