Ireland has been stunned by the “Roscommon incest case”.
People have been incredulous at the details of the case.
A mother-of-six from County Roscommon was sentenced last week to seven years in prison after being convicted on ten counts of incest, sexual abuse and neglect of her children.
Because the mother was sentenced under 1908 legislation she could only receive a sentence of 7 years.
A man convicted of the same offences could face up to life imprisonment.
Circuit Court Judge Miriam Reynolds said there was room for future legislation to be drawn up to deal with the actions of the woman.
‘Had this being a case of a male person being convicted – a much longer sentence would be allowed under more recently amended legislation. A man convicted of incest can be jailed up to a maximum of a life sentence,’ she said.
The woman’s six children were aged between six and 15 when the offences took place over a six-year period at the family home.
The woman cannot be named for legal reasons.
The court was told yesterday that the six children were not fed properly, suffered from head lice and were beaten and abused on regular occasions.
The Health Service Executive said tonight it had appointed a senior manager to carry out a preliminary review of the circumstances surrounding the case.
The investigation would establish the facts and inform any further decisions, according to a spokeswoman.
‘This review has already commenced and is being carried out by a senior manager from outside the Roscommon area,’ she said.
A Garda who investigated the case has praised the bravery and determination of the six children.
Sergeant John Hynes said great credit was due to every member of the family who brought the offences to the attention of the authorities.
He said the children had been adversely affected by the trauma but were receiving counselling on an on-going basis.
Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney has said the case was probably the most appalling case of abuse that she had ever read.
The reportage of this case has been, as I opened one of incredulity.
I was interviewed on the radio show “The Right Hook” on the day the story broke.
The producers on the show contacted me and asked me to take part on the show because of my journalism on the issue of child protection and the fact that I am an ex-social worker.
When I was making some notes to guide me on this live radio interview the first two words that I jotted down on the pad was
That is what happens, I thought, when a serious systemic problem that everyone knows about is not tackled.
We get to re-live the same events over and over.
I was interviewed by Ivan Yeats, the former Fine Gael TD on the radio show “the Right Hook”, on the day that the Roscommon case broke.
Ivan opened the interview by stating that he was “shocked and disturbed” about the details of the case.
I told him I didn’t share his shock, because the word “shock” implies surprise.
I was not surprised at the details of the Roscommon case.
The following day in the Irish Independent child protection expert Shane Dunphy asked:
“How could professionals, who testified that they visited the home of this family twice a week — a home reportedly infested by rodents, littered with rubbish and rotting food, where children were only given dinner twice a week (perhaps on the days these social workers called) — miss what was happening right under their noses?”
That is simple Shane social workers are not professionals.
I know this because I was a social worker for over a decade.
Social workers cannot be struck off unlike a medic, a solicitor, a nurse or a teacher.
Social work does not pass any objective test of being a profession.
Out with the state structures social workers have no economic value.
There is no private practice in social work. The idea that a person would seek out a social worker and hire them to avail of their skills is, quite frankly, bizarre.
In the free market social workers have no value because no one would hire them.
Social workers are neither properly trained nor skilled at what they are supposed to do on our behalf.
There is no agreed knowledge base for what social workers do that can be verified as having any validity.
There is no social equivalent of, say, the Glasgow Coma scale the gold standard for all receiving medic s when the patient has a head injury.
What is taught on social work courses is a mishmash of feminist ideology and simplistic leftwing “explanations” of human behaviour.
My own experience as a social work student in Swansea University in 1989, as a practice teacher in Glasgow in 1995 and a social work lecturer in the University of Ulster, for an academic year in 1998, has taught me that social work courses are stuck in a mental universe that ordinary people would not recognise.
Subsequently we have people in posts that cannot fulfil the core function for which the state pays them, protecting children who are at risk.
The Irish government are well aware of these facts. I know. I told them.
I wrote to Minister Barry Andrews last year to relate my experience of the state’s state run child protection services. The letter was a two-page critique of the structural issues and systemic failures at the heart of Health Board run services there was also an implicit offer to help. After waiting two months for a reply I was informed by letter from the minister’s office that my letter would be passed to the HSE and, the minister was sure that, the contents of said letter would be very helpful.
Mary Harney has asked for a full report from the HSE on the Roscommon case.
What does she need to know?
She knows everything she needs to know about the child protection services and has done so for several years. The child protection service in this state is not fit for purpose. Roscommon is no aberration.
The children in the Roscommon case were caught in a perfect storm of incompetence, indolence and ideology.
The kids were being neglected, but no one moved to act decisively to safeguard the children. The “parent” was a female so, in the feminist mindset of social work, was “oppressed” and was therefore deserving of social work sympathy.
As a female she would not be suspected of being a sexual predator. In the social work worldview women cannot be guilty of such crimes, but clearly they can be.
There will be other Roscommon cases. There are, undoubtedly, other children currently enduring agonies and those children are known to the child protection services yet they are not removed.
It is easy to hide behind the constitutional protections of the family or complain about the intervention of pro-family religious groups.
To focus on these issues takes the public’s gaze away from social workers who resist providing a 7/24 service and instead prefer to work office hours for their own convenience.
Like Letterfrack and Goldenbridge everyone knows what the problem is, but nothing has been done heretofore.
Moreover nothing will be done because these children are less important that the interests of these well-paid public servants.
Had the Roscommon case happened in Britain then, at the very least, senior people in the social work system would pay with their jobs.
In the “Baby P” case three people from Haringey council either resigned or were sacked.
Who will resign in Roscommon? Who will be sacked?
One definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
If anyone in our government is surprised by the Roscommon case then they are not fit for purpose either.