Safeguarding Statement

The Foundation recognises and upholds the dignity and rights of all who visit and is committed to ensuring their safety and well-being. The Foundation recognises that all staff and volunteers have a responsibility to safeguard both children and vulnerable adults through providing a safe and respectful environment that supports their best interests and prevents abuse.

Child Safeguarding Statement

The Foundation recognises and upholds the dignity and rights of all children and is committed to ensuring their safety and well-being. The Foundation recognises that all staff and volunteers have a responsibility to safeguard children through providing a safe and caring environment that supports their best interests and prevents abuse.

The Foundation exists to promote awareness and appreciation of the scientific, botanical, and cultural heritage of Birr Castle and Demesne. It promotes and facilitates visits by groups, students, and individual visitors. As a support to its mission, the Foundation provides educational, play and recreational facilities for children.

In accordance with the requirements of the Children First Act 2015, Children First: national guidance for the protection and welfare of children 2017, the Board of the Foundation has agreed the Child Safeguarding Statement set out in this document.

The Directors/Trustees recognises that child protection and welfare considerations must be reflected in all its policies, procedures, practices, and activities. The Foundation will adhere to the following principles:
Recognise that the protection and welfare of children is of paramount importance, fully comply with its statutory obligations under the Children First Act 2015 and other relevant legislation, fully cooperate with the relevant statutory authorities in relation to child protection and welfare matters, adopt safe practices to minimise the possibility of harm to children and protect workers from the necessity to act in ways that might leave them open to accusations of abuse or neglect, fully respect confidentiality requirements in dealing with child protection matters.

The Foundation has assessed the risks arising from its activities to include the possibility of harm as defined by the relevant legislation being inflicted by visitors, staff, or volunteers. In order to mitigate these risks, the Foundation:
Ensures that all staff and volunteers who work directly with children are vetted in advance of beginning work with the Foundation, admits children under 18 years to its premises only under the supervision of their parents, guardians or other responsible adults, admits school groups only with adequate teacher supervision confirmed at time of booking, has developed a policy for the safe supervision of children who may be missing or lost while in the Demesne.

In relation to the provision of information, instruction, and training in respect of the identification of the occurrence of harm, the foundation will:

Provide each member of staff and volunteer with a copy of this Child Safeguarding Statement, ensure all new staff and volunteers are provided with a copy of the Statement, facilitate every member of staff and volunteer who connect with our visiting children to read and complete the Children First Guidance and Legislation online ( Manage any allegation of abuse or misconduct against staff or volunteers within its disciplinary procedures, maintain a list of staff who may be ‘mandated persons’ under the Act.

Designated Liaison Person: Grainne O’Malley

The Directors/Trustees of the Foundation have appointed the above-named Designated Liaison Person (D LP) as the ‘relevant person’ as defined in the legislation to be the first point of contact in respect of this Child Safeguarding Statement.

* This Statement will be reviewed annually. This Child Safeguarding Statement was adopted by the Trustees of the Foundation on 9 March 2018, reviewed annually and last updated September 2023.

Directors 2023: Peter Gallagher (Chair), Countess of Rosse (Alison Rosse), Jim Deegan, Maria McGovern, Joe Breen, John Carroll, Neil Porteous, Denis Duggan, Killian Kealey, and secretary; Edel Connolly.

Vulnerable Adult Safeguarding

Safeguarding Defined

Safeguarding is the promotion and protection of the right to live in safety, free from abuse, harm and neglect of an adult at risk. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experiences of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action. This must recognise that adults sometimes have complex interpersonal relationships and may be ambivalent, unclear or unrealistic about their personal circumstances.

Who is most at risk?

Planning Ahead is recommended for all adults, especially those who are getting older and is particularly important for vulnerable people such as those living with:

  • Reduced decision-making capacity.
  • Age related frailty.
  • A serious or sudden illness.
  • A mental or physical disability
  • High-risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
  • Under the control of another person.

Key Principles in vulnerable adult protection:

What can abuse look like:

  • Physical Abuse includes rough handling, slapping, pinching, kicking, choking, punching, shoving, or inappropriately using drugs or physical restraints.
  • Emotional Abuse includes shouting, insulting, intimidation, humiliation, threatening, blackmailing.
  • Financial Abuse includes theft, fraud and exploitation; pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions; or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.
  • Sexual Abuse includes rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the victim has not consented, or could not consent, or into which they were forced to consent.
  • Neglect includes acts of omission including ignoring medical or physical care needs, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.
  • Coercive Control a pattern of behaviour to exercise control over an at-risk adult. Used to make a person dependent and isolate them in order to exploit them, deprive them of their independence and exercise control over their behaviours and choices.
  • Discrimination includes racism, sexism, ageism or discrimination based on a person’s disability.
  • Institutional Abuse usually occurs in a care setting and can include rigid and inflexible routines, lack of choice, consistently poor care

Definition of a vulnerable person for the purposes of Garda vetting

The Garda Vetting Bureau (children and vulnerable persons) Act 2012 defines a vulnerable person as a person, other than a child, who (a) is suffering from a disorder of the mind, whether as a result of mental illness or dementia, (b) has an intellectual disability, (c) is suffering from a physical impairment, whether as a result of injury, illness or age, or (d) has a physical disability, which is of such a nature or degree— (i) as to restrict the capacity of the person to guard himself or herself against harm by another person, or (ii) that results in the person requiring assistance with the activities of daily living including dressing, eating, walking, washing and bathing.

Vulnerable adult abuse is any mistreatment that violates a person’s human and civil rights. The abuse can vary from treating someone with disrespect in a way which significantly affects the person’s quality of life, to causing actual physical suffering. A vulnerable adult may be subjected to more than one form of abuse at any given time. Physical abuse such as hitting, pushing, pinching, shaking, misusing medication, scalding, restraint, hair pulling. Sexual abuse such as rape, sexual assault, or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not or could not have consented, or to which they were pressurised into consenting.

Psychological or emotional abuse such as threats of harm or abandonment, being deprived of social or any other form of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, being prevented from receiving services or support.

Financial or material abuse such as theft, fraud or exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property, or inheritance, misuse of property, possessions, or benefits.

Neglect such as ignoring medical or physical care needs and preventing access to health, social care or educational services or withholding the necessities of life such as food, drink and heating.

Discriminatory abuse such as that based on race or sexuality or a person's disability and other forms of harassment or slurs. Institutional abuse can sometimes happen in residential homes, nursing homes, hostels, holiday centres or hospitals when people are mistreated because of poor or inadequate care, neglect and poor practice that affects the whole of that service.

Domestic abuse refers to the use of physical or emotional force or threat of physical force, including sexual violence in close adult relationships. This includes violence perpetrated by a spouse, partner, son or daughter or any other person who has a close or blood relationship with the victim. The term ‘domestic violence’ goes beyond actual physical violence. It can also involve emotional abuse; the destruction of property; isolation from friends, family and other potential sources of support; threats to others including children; stalking; and control over access to money, personal items, food, Transportation and the telephone.

Mandatory Reporting

Beyond the scope of this guidance document on reporting, all citizens should be aware that it is a legal requirement throughout Leland for any person who knows or believes that a serious offence has been committed including an offence relating to Rape, Sexual Assault and False Imprisonment to report such information to An Garda Siochâna and it is an offence not to do so where that failure cannot be reasonably excused.

Safeguarding Ireland’s advice is – if you suspect abuse – take action and Call it Out. HSE safeguarding and Protection Teams provide services and support in each region of the country. Call the HSE’s National Safeguarding Office at (061) 461 358, or visit


The consent of the vulnerable adult should be sought prior to reporting any matter to the civil authorities and onto family and care service providers. Sometimes adults do not want civil authorities to take action to investigate or protect them from harm; People have a right to make such choices about reporting; however, if a criminal act is suspected, it must be reported to the civil authorities. If upon receipt of the concern, where the vulnerable adult does not give consent to reporting, and it is not clear that a criminal act has taken place, and where the designated person believes that others may also be at risk of harm, consultation should take place with the civil authorities as to the best course of action, in the absence of consent from the alleged victim.

In considering the capacity of the vulnerable adult to give consent, the following factors should be taken into account:

  • The adult has the capacity to understand what is being asked of him/her.
  • Sufficient information is given, in a way that the person understands, to enable him/her to make an informed decision.
  • Consent is not received through any form of coercion. If the vulnerable adult is unable to give informed consent, discussions should take place with their carer/guardian/close family about reporting concerns/allegations and, where appropriate, discussions should also take place with any medical or social work personnel. There may need to be a determination as to who can give consent on behalf of the vulnerable adult; in some instances, there may already be provision in place; consultation may be required with legal advisers and statutory personnel.

The Birr Scientific and Heritage Foundation commit to signing up to the Adult Safeguarding Charter with Safeguarding Ireland. In-house team training has taken place.

This Adult Safeguarding Policy was adopted by the Board of the Foundation on 25 November 2022 and will be reviewed annually. Updated 30 August 2023.

Safeguarding company representatives: Grainne O’Malley, Shane Hollywood & Lorna Shannon

Directors 2022: Peter Gallagher (Chair), Countess of Rosse (Alison Rosse), Jim Deegan, Maria McGovern, Joe Breen, John Carroll, Neil Porteous, Killian Kealey, Denis Duggan and Secretary Edel Connolly.