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Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) is the national child protection charity in Ireland. It provides a range of services to children and families in Ireland, and promotes children's rights.

Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
ISPCC official logo.png
Founded18 January 1956; 63 years ago (1956-01-18)
TypeChild protection
Registration no.CHY 5102
FocusChild protection
Coordinates53°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
OriginsNational Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
Area served
Republic of Ireland
Key people
  • John Church[1] (CEO)
€5.3million (2017)

The ISPCC is best known for its free confidential listening service, ISPCC Childline, which is available by phone on 1800 66 66 66, by texting 'Talk' to 50101 and online at It also provides a range of support services from its offices around Ireland. Its support line is available daily to anyone in Ireland concerned about a child, on 01 6767690.

The ISPCC 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.[2]

The first Irish branch of the NSPCC was founded in Dublin in May 1889, with branches founded in Cork and Belfast in 1891.[2]



The ISPCC provides a wide range of services. Annually, ISPCC Childline has over 400,000 conversations with children, through its phone, online and webchat services.

Childline is a free, anonymous and confidential service, that is available to children 24-hours a day by phone and by text and online from 10am-4am.

The society publishes an annual report which details the volume and types of calls received and the reasons why children call.



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.[2] Their job was to investigate child abuse or neglect.[2] They were nearly all men and were recruited from the ranks of retired army personnel and police.[2] Each answered to a local committee of volunteers.[2] A brown uniform was worn by inspectors and they were popularly known as "cruelty men".[2]

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.[2]

Social conditionsEdit

From the 1930s to the 1940s many people lived in squalid conditions.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2] Membership also changed under McQuaid, who had targeted traditionally Protestant organisations such as the ISPCC and recruited large numbers of Catholics who then gained positions of control.[3]

Change in roleEdit

In 1968 social workers took over the role of inspectors and in 1970 the Health boards took over other functions of the society.[2]

Industrial schoolsEdit

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.[2] Frank Duff criticised the society in a letter to John Charles McQuaid in 1941.[2]

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.[2] 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.[2]

Funding and expenditure[4][5]Edit

The ISPCC is funded almost 80 per cent from fundraising, both public donations and others


In 1999 then ISPCC Chief Executive Cian O Tighearnaigh resigned his post following accusations of fraud in relation to non-payment of commissions to collectors.[6] 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.[7]

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 complied with the ruling by removing the video from its own website. The ISPCC claimed that the decision would make it difficult for them to produce material on child abuse in future.[8][9][10]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Our Senior Management Team". ISPCC.
  2. ^ 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) Archived 30 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, Volume V, Chapter 1
  3. ^ The transformation of Ireland, 1900–2000. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  4. ^ GrabOne daily deals (2 May 2010). "How much does giving really cost?". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Income from ISPCC street collections falls by 80%". The Irish Times. 2 February 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  6. ^ "O Tighearnaigh resigns from ISPCC". The Irish Times. 8 August 1999. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  7. ^ Independent Woman (27 July 2005). "Ex-child charity chief wins bar on prosecution". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  8. ^ GrabOne daily deals (24 September 2011). "Children's charity dismayed over decision to ban ad". The Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  9. ^ "The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland :: Complaint". Archived from the original on 22 April 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ Caroline O’Doherty (24 September 2011). "ISPCC questions ban on abuse campaign video". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  11. ^ "About us – Ambassadors". ISPCC. Retrieved 12 May 2017.

External linksEdit