Thursday was the first anniversary of the publication of the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse. Commonly called the Ryan Report, its publication cumulated in the realisation of the extent of the violence, rape and sexual assault that children suffered in the care of the Catholic Church. I have written more here. Eight organisations (Barnardos, CARI, Children’s Rights Alliance, Irish Association of Young People in Care, ISPCC, One in Four, Rape Crisis Network of Ireland and Dublin Rape Crisis Centre) met to discuss progress on the implementation of the Ryan Report.
To this day not a single additional penny has been paid by the eighteen religious congregations that committed crimes against children. I say additional because the Irish Government struck a shameful deal with the religious orders in 2002. The then Minister for Education Michael Woods and Attorney General Michael McDowell struck a secret deal. It was never put before parliament and there was no vote. In short, religious orders were awarded indemnity against all legal claims provided they supplied €128m in cash and property. The idea was that if there was a shortfall, the taxpayer would provide. Woods expected around 2000 claimants and a total cost of around €300m.
Fast forward to 2010, and 14 000 claimants have come forward. The bill is expected to be around €1.3bn. And the religious orders have not contributed a single additional penny. The congregations claim that the Irish Government had not yet provided the details of what further contributions are required.
In addition, the Catholic Church, which runs 92% of the primary schools in Ireland have ordered the schools to pay €4.75 per pupil to the church each year to begin at the end of May. There is no reason given for the charge and the church requires immediate payment. Given that many primary schools in politically-disadvantaged areas are in dire conditions, this demand for money is particularly egregious. Students were requested to bring tolls of toilet paper from home because of budget cutbacks in one Cork school. Several schools have repeated rat infestations. 50 000 students are being educated in prefabs – some for over twenty years. Granted, that these failings are also due to the indifference of successive Education Ministers.
However, this is the same government that promised €2 million for the funding of counselling services for the survivors of institutional rape and torture. Organisations like the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and One in Four have received no extra funding to date and have had their budgets cut by 5.8% despite a government commitment not to do so. Organisations that provide counselling services have been and remain overwhelmed. There is now a nine-month waiting list for one to one counselling at One in Four.
Numerous reports have come out about the cover-up of the sexual abuse of children, yet bishops named in the Murphy report remain patrons of primary schools. The primate of all Ireland, Seán Brady engaged in a conspiracy to cover up serial child rape and refuses to resign. He still holds that position. The leader of the Catholic Church in the Vatican covered up child rape. Benedict XVI was revealed to have ordered bishops not to report child sexual abuse to the correct authorities – the civil authorities – yet he is still lauded by millions.
There has been no information about the children who died in care and were allegedly buried in mass graves. The only information in the public domain is that in 1993 an order of nuns in Dublin sold part of their convent to a real estate developer. The remains of 155 inmates, who had been buried in unmarked graves on the property, were exhumed and, except for one body, cremated and reburied in a mass grave. There has been no other information. Children were murdered, starved and worked to death but we do not even know their names.
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