Safeguarding Ireland will lead on encouraging an organisational and societal culture which promotes the rights of vulnerable adults and it insists on zero tolerance for abuse. It will provide strategic guidance to the Government, the HSE, and other national stakeholders.

Our background

Safeguarding Ireland is a not‐for‐profit organisation that was formally established in December 2015 in response to a number of high‐profile adult safeguarding issues. The organisation was formed with the support of the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Irish Government.

Both Safeguarding Ireland and the Government recognised the need to promote the rights of vulnerable people and safeguard them from abuse through policy and legislative change. Up to now, adult safeguarding was seen in a narrow and service‐based context focused on the abuse of people in disability, mental health and older persons’ services.

Adult safeguarding issues in Ireland

Sadly, examples of adult safeguarding issues occur in Ireland on a daily basis. Some are the subject of close media scrutiny, others occur in the privacy of a person’s own home or within one of Ireland’s health and social care services. Abuse against those who are vulnerable can be perpetrated by a range of people, from strangers to a family member.

In a Red C Poll commissioned by Safeguarding Ireland, half of the respondents reported that a vulnerable adult close to them had experienced abuse. This should not be acceptable in any society and certainly not in a developed democracy such as Ireland.

Our vision and strategic plan

In December 2017, Safeguarding Ireland published its first Strategic Plan which spans a five‐year period until the end of 2021. The Strategic Plan sets out our core objectives which are:

  • to raise public understanding of attitudes, behaviours, circumstances and systems that create vulnerability that may result in abuse, and that may require a safeguarding response
  • to promote the protection and rights of people who may be vulnerable, by encouraging organisations and services to recognise, prevent and deal with exploitation and abuse effectively
  • to inform and influence Government policy and legislation to safeguard the rights of people who may be vulnerable to optimise its collective capacity and available external resources to achieve its aims and objectives.

Patricia Rickard Clarke, 2019

Safeguarding Ireland Independent Chairperson

Safeguarding Ireland brings together 30 key organisations in public services, legal and financial services, the health and socialcare professions, regulatory authorities and NGOs representing older people, people with disabilities and carers.

All have come together with one objective in mind – to ensure that adults who may be vulnerable are safeguarded.


wdt_IDFirst NameSurnameOrganisation
1PatriciaRickard-ClarkeIndependent Chair
2MaureenKavanaghActive Retirement Ireland
3CelineClarkeAge Action
4PatMcloughlinAlzheimers Society of Ireland
5DavidMcInerneyAn Garda Siochana
6KevinDalyAn Garda Siochana
7MichaelCarrickAn Post
8LouiseO'MahonyBanking & Payments Federation Ireland
9CatherineMcGuiganCity and County Managers Association
10ErikKolshusCollege of Psychiatrics of Ireland

Terms of Reference

Safeguarding Ireland will be independently chaired and will derive representation from a number of agencies. It will lead on encouraging an organisational and societal culture which promotes the rights of adults who may be vulnerable. Membership of Safeguarding Ireland will be reviewed biannually by the Chair in conjunction with the HSE National Director Social Care and the Director of the Decision Support Service.


Specifically, Safeguarding Ireland will:

  1. Promote zero tolerance for abuse of adults who are vulnerable.
  2. Provide strategic guidance to the Government, HSE and other National Stakeholders, in relation to the promotion of the rights and independence of all vulnerable adults.
  3. Promote the rights of adults who may be vulnerable through public awareness and through the activities of Safeguarding Ireland.
  4. Develop a national plan for promoting the welfare, and safeguarding from abuse, of adults (to include protection from abuse by persons and institutions).
  5. Provide oversight, guidance and influence on legislation, policies and procedures, when required, in order to ensure that the promotion of safeguarding principles are enshrined in policies and procedures and that complaints and concerns are addressed appropriately.
  6. Ensure that information gathering and analysis systems operate to inform effective management and learning in all organisations.
  7. Commission research, public awareness campaigns and training aimed at promoting the rights of adults who may be vulnerable.
  8. Report, on an agreed basis, to the HSE National Director Social Care in liaison with the Director of Decision Support Service (when established).
  9. Contribute to the review of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse – National Policy and Procedures.
  10. Develop a five-year plan of activities by Safeguarding Ireland to promote the welfare, empowerment and independence of adults who may be vulnerable, and report annually on its activities.


Safeguarding Ireland does not deal with specific cases of abuse, or alleged abuse.

The HSE has a social work service that you can contact if you have a concern about a vulnerable adult who may be at risk of abuse. There are nine teams located throughout the country. You can find information on how to get in touch with them on the Contact page.