The scandal of children’s safety in Northern Ireland

As in the rest of the UK and probably elsewhere, the landscape is littered with organisations , some Quangos, some charities , on the face of it, concerned about children.

In Northern Ireland , to mention a few, there is Barnados, the NSPCC, the NICCY and the Safeguarding Board NI.

You might think, Dear Reader, that one body could protect our children.

Not so. All these bodies and more, receive public money , our pennies, when in the street, with the aim of protecting children from physical violence , emotional violence, sexual abuse and other discrimination.

Since I became aware of this problem, in the early 1980s, I have wondered what the government was doing to protect children.

Sadly, I have come to the view, articulated in the song “I’d like to help you son but you’re too young to vote”.

Some time ago , the government decided that an overarching body should protect children. The clue is in the title of this body…the Safeguarding Board for NI.

It has a chairman, three non executive directors [which means that OFMDFM appoints them] and at least 16 other members.

It has five regional panels , a case management review panel  and other panels.

It has a number of other committees, including a “policies and procedures” committee , an “interfaith sub group” [ god help us] and an “education and training” group.

Alexis Jay’s report [suppressed since February of this year] makes for shocking reading. Essentially it says that nobody has got a grip of the disparate bodies who turn up and say that they are concerned about children.

Essentially, it says that the Safeguarding  Board is fuck all use. That’s not language that is  deployed  but to the parents of affected children that’s what it amounts to.

Children continue to die and children are still abused while this hopeless organisation carries on.

You have probably heard lots of “experts” talk about children on Good Morning Ulster, Nolan and other media. Not one has raised this issue.

It begs the question, common in Northern Ireland, are they slave to the fee , the establishment or to the truth? Perhaps they will let us know, particularly where the safety of children is at stake.

Meanwhile, all these fat ladies and pale men continue to draw their gross salaries and the talking heads ignore the problem.

Jim Gamble, an open letter

Dear Jim

You have devoted yourself for many years to combatting sexual abuse.

I wonder what your view is on the Hart Inquiry in Banbridge and the wider issue of anonymous hackers posting allegations against alleged abusers?

The Hart inquiry forbids the publishing of names of people who have been named by alleged victims, if that alleged perpetrator has no criminal record. So, an MLA has so far not been named. The same criteria would have allowed Jimmy Saville to go unnamed. Are you happy with that?

It also is inhibited by statute from any investigation into non devolved matters. What is your view on that?

I know one high profile victim of Kincora. He is an intelligent and deeply damaged man.

The proclivities that drive men to carry out abuse are extant. Where do they get their release now and what are we doing about it?

You know that one of the tools of investigators is to have a name published so that other victims can come forward.

Another worrying issue, nationally, is that many famous people are not named until they are dead. It suggests that the state is complicit in this.

Do you depend for much of your work from the public purse and, if so ,  do you feel that you are in  any way inhibited by this? I refer to your recent quoted criticism of anonymous hackers.

Best wishes