Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

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Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
Founded January 18, 1956 (1956-01-18)
Type Child protection
Registration no. CHY 5102
Coordinates 53°20′15″N 6°15′02″W / 53.337494°N 6.250452°W / 53.337494; -6.250452Coordinates: 53°20′15″N 6°15′02″W / 53.337494°N 6.250452°W / 53.337494; -6.250452
Origins National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
€6.5million (2010)
Slogan "Always here for children"

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) is an Irish charity that advocates for children's rights and provides services for children in need. It was founded as a successor to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children which had operated in Ireland from 1889 to 1956.[1]

The first Irish branch of the NSPCC was founded in Dublin in May 1889, with branches founded in Cork and Belfast in 1891.[1]



Each branch of the NSPCC and ISPCC had an inspector who was paid a salary and was provided with a house that doubled as a local office.[1] Their job was to investigate child abuse or neglect.[1] They were nearly all men and were recruited from the ranks of retired army personnel and police.[1] Each answered to a local committee of volunteers.[1] A brown uniform was worn by inspectors and they were popularly known as "cruelty men".[1]

Inspectors acted independently and were not answerable to the branch committee, though they were answerable to the honorary secretary of the committee, though the onus was on the inspector to communicate with superiors.[1]

Social conditions[edit]

From the 1930s to the 1940s many people lived in squalid conditions.[1] From the 1930s to the 1950s reports by the society graphically described the conditions that people lived in, as well as advocating that children moved from their families live with new families rather than be sent to industrial schools.[1] When John Charles McQuaid became a patron of the society in 1956 the criticism of industrial schools advocacy of adoption and case studies vanished from reports.[1] Membership also changed under McQuaid, who had targeted traditionally Protestant organisations such as the ISPCC and recruited larges numbers of Catholics who then gained positions of control.[2]

Change in role[edit]

In 1968 social workers took over the role of inspectors and in 1970 the Health boards took over other functions of the society.[1]

Industrial schools[edit]

Both the NSPCC and ISPCC had a role in committing children to industrial schools, though the exact extend is not clear because of lack of records - the society states that some were lost in a fire in their office in 1961 and some may have been lost in the changeover from the NSPCC in 1956.[1] Frank Duff criticised the society in a letter to John Charles McQuaid in 1941.[1]

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse concluded that the society had played an important role in committing children to industrial schools, though the exact extent is unclear as some reports are missing.[1] Poverty was the main reason children were committed to residential care - the idea of supporting families with financial aid was advocated by the society as early as 1951.[1]


The ISPCC operates several services for children: the Irish Childline, Leanbh - a service dealing with children who beg, Childfocus - a service supporting children under 12 with emotional difficulties, and Teenfocus - a service supporting teenagers with emotional difficulties and a Mentoring Support Project to support children, teenagers and parents or guardians.[3][4][5][6][7]

The ISPCC’s range of support services for children are intended to be child-centred, preventative and empowering utilising information technologies giving young people options in how they wish to avail of support, through a chosen medium with which they are comfortable using.

The ISPCC also provides support and information to adults who may be concerned about a child as well as offering support and guidance to parents.

Missing Children's Hotline In 2012 the Missing Children’s Hotline service became operational in Ireland from 10pm through to 4pm daily and is operated by the ISPCC. This service is funded by Daphne European Funding and by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

The 116 000 hotline is now fully operational in Ireland and is designed to give free emotional support and advice to children who are missing. The line is also available to parents of missing children or others who are responsible for the missing child. By dialling 116 000 the caller will be linked to someone they can talk to about the issue.

In 2013 the service became available 24 hours a day.

The ISPCC also advocates for children's rights.

Funding and expenditure[edit]

In 2011 the ISPCC had an income of €6.5 million.[8] It spent more than one third of this on fund-raising and promotion.[9][10]


In 1999 ISPCC Chief Executive Cian O Tighearnaigh resigned his post following accusations of fraud in relation to non payment of commissions to collectors.[11] He gained an injunction barring the DPP from bringing a prosecution against on the grounds that the delay in instituting criminal proceedings had prejudiced him in obtaining a fair trial.[12]

In September 2011 an ISPCC advert titled "I Can't Wait Until I Grow Up" featuring a young boy being repeatedly assaulted by a man was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) for breaching rules on gender equality. The ASAI noted that previous adverts by the charity also solely featured male abusers and that "the portrayal of only male characters as the abusers was in breach of the provisions of the Code". The code states that "marketing communications should respect the principle of the equality of men and women" and "should avoid sex stereotyping and any exploitation or demeaning of men and women". The ISPCC technically complied with the ruling by removing the video from its own website but neglected to remove the banned video from YouTube and claimed that the decision would make it difficult for them to produce material on child abuse in future.[13][14][15]


The list include: Brian O'Driscoll, Brendan O'Carroll as Mrs Brown, Colin Farrell, Damien Duff, David Coleman, Emeli Sande, Gary Barlow, Grainne Seoige, Ian Dempsey, Jamie Heaslip, Jedward, Jessie J, Keith Barry, Laura Whitmore, Little Mix, Louis Walsh, Mark Feehily, Martin King, Mary O'Rourke, Michael Buble Mikey Graham, Miriam O'Callaghan, Niall Horan, Olly Murs, One Direction, Pat Kenny, Robbie & Claudine Keane, Ryan Tubridy,Saoirse Ronan, The Script, Westlife, The Wanted.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, Volume V, Chapter 1
  2. ^ The transformation of Ireland, 1900-2000. Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  3. ^ Childline, ISPCC website
  4. ^ Leanbh, ISPCC website
  5. ^ Childfocus, ISPCC website
  6. ^ Teenfocus, ISPCC website
  7. ^ Mentoring Support Project, ISPCC website
  8. ^ "ISPCC". 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  9. ^ GrabOne daily deals (2010-05-02). "How much does giving really cost?". Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  10. ^ "Income from ISPCC street collections falls by 80%". The Irish Times. 2011-02-02. Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  11. ^ "O Tighearnaigh resigns from ISPCC". The Irish Times. 1999-08-08. Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  12. ^ Independent Woman (2005-07-27). "Ex-child charity chief wins bar on prosecution". Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  13. ^ GrabOne daily deals (2011-09-24). "Children's charity dismayed over decision to ban ad". Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  14. ^ "The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland :: Complaint". Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  15. ^ Caroline O’Doherty (2011-09-24). "ISPCC questions ban on abuse campaign video". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2012-05-08. 

External links[edit]