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Scoping inquiry into historical sexual abuse in schools

On March 7th 2023, Minister for Education Norma Foley following a government decision, publicised that The Government has approved the establishment of a scoping inquiry to update the government reply to revelations of past sexual abuse in schools run by religious orders.

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Mary O’Toole Senior Counsel will be leading the scoping inquiry with the assistance of experts including Kieran McGrath who is an expert in child protection).

The inquiry is to be made up of reports and inputs from experts from numeral areas such as; child protection, restorative justice and, survivor engagement.

The lead will then submit a report at the end of the process that will include recommendations for the next steps to the Minister.

Minister Foley publicly announced that she wanted survivors to be central for the scoping inquiry process and to engage with as many survivors as possible. She said she was asking and inviting these survivors to come forward and that a website connected with the inquiry would go live.

Minister Foley also said:

“The revelations of abuse in a number of schools are deeply disturbing and heart-breaking, I and indeed the whole of government are very conscious of the enormous trauma which has been endured by all the survivors of abuse.”

‘It is vitally important that survivors of historical child sexual abuse have the opportunity to be heard in full, and with appropriate respect and sensitivity.”

The minister has said that it will be tough to guage how long the inquiry will take but she does believe that at this early stage that we could expect a timeframe of about 8 months.

There has been many new contacts recently, by mid-February 2023, An Garda Síochána had received 131 contacts either through the Sexual Crime Management Unit Office at the Garda National Protective Services Bureau or at local garda stations across the country.

Gardai have said that the contacts have been primarily from people who have suffered sexual abuse in the past, witnessed sexual abuse or/and from people on behalf of those who suffered from sexual abuse.

If you are a survivor and you wish to register your interest in this scoping process you can find details of how to do so at

You can also email or phone 00 353 90-6483610