November Comments 2018

ANON Nov 25th, 2018 @ 09:27 AM

Police praise courage of victims after cleric jailed for sex abuse…

Police have urged anyone abused by Faruque Ahmed to seek support.
An Islamic tutor has been jailed for 14 years for sexual assaults against two young girls prompting police to urge other potential victims to come forward.

Faruque Ahmed, 46, abused the victims over a two-year period while employed to teach Arabic at a family home in Warley, West Midlands, police said.

In a statement issued after Ahmed was jailed at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Friday, West Midlands Police said the abuse came to light when one of the victims made disclosures to a nurse in 2016.

The complainant disclosed that Ahmed, an Imam living in Stoke, had abused her and struck her with a bamboo cane if she resisted.

Ahmed was arrested in February last year, and in police interview admitted tutoring the girls between 2009 and 2011 but denied assaulting them.

Officers charged the cleric with sexually touching a child and sexual assault of a child by penetration, leading to him being found guilty on 10 of the 13 counts against him.

Ahmed, formerly of Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent, was also given a sexual harm prevention order banning him from working with children for life, and was ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

Detective Constable Sarah West, from West Midlands Police’s Child Abuse Unit, said: “Both victims want to raise awareness within their community and to urge anyone who’s suffered abuse to speak out.

“They know first-hand how victims can feel pressured to remain silent that by reporting offences it somehow brings shame on the family but they recognise now that by doing so it allows offenders to continue offending and puts other children at risk.

“The girls have now got justice for the horrible abuse inflicted on them by Ahmed and are getting the support they need to move on with their lives

“And they want other survivors of abuse to do the same.

“I wish the girls all the very best for their futures and thank them for their courage in speaking out.

Their brave actions may save other children from being abused and for that they can be rightly proud.

ANON Nov 22nd, 2018 @ 06:38 PM

1/2...Legislation to support victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse – consultation open…

The Executive Office is encouraging responses to a consultation on draft legislation intended to help the victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse.

The department has today published three pieces of proposed legislation which are in line with the recommendations made in the Hart Report in January 2017 to establish:

• a Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse;

• a Redress Board; and

• a compensation scheme.

David Sterling, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service said: “I have met with victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse on several occasions since being appointed Head of the Civil Service.

I have heard harrowing personal accounts of the destructive impact the abuse has had on many people.

“Many of them feel that there is no escape and unfortunately that is something that will live with them for a very long time.

They have told me that many years later they are still hurting, still suffering.”
David Sterling continued: “I have delivered on my undertaking given earlier in the year to victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse, that The Executive

Office would prepare the necessary legislation to establish a Redress Board and a Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse.

ANON Nov 22nd, 2018 @ 06:35 PM

2/2....“This has been a challenging and complex area of work, particularly in the absence of an Executive, however we owe it to the victims and survivors to do all we can for them.

I urge anyone who has an interest to contribute to this consultation on the draft legislation.”

The consultation is now open and will run for a 12 week period until 10 February 2019.

More information and details on how to respond are available on TEO’s website at: www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/HIA-consultation

When the consultation process is complete, the proposed legislation will be for Ministers to consider and take forward.

David Sterling said: “I am committed to moving to implementation, as quickly as possible, once Ministers have taken the necessary decisions.

I assured victims and survivors of this commitment when I met with their representatives today just before the consultation was officially launched.”

TEO will also be engaging with stakeholders and others with an interest in this issue over the course of the consultation period.

Details of the first of the information sessions are:

• Clayton Hotel Belfast – 4.00pm to 6.00pm on Tuesday 4 December

• Maldron Hotel, Derry – 4.00pm to 6.00pm on Wednesday 5 December

To register for one of these events, e-mail: HIAConsultation@executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk or call HIA Implementation Branch on 028 9052 3250.

Details of further engagement events will be made available at: www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/HIA-Consultation

Notes to editors:

Media enquiries to The Executive Office Press Office on 028 9037 8142.

Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

ANON Nov 22nd, 2018 @ 06:29 PM

Christian Brothers to pay final €8.8m owed to abuse survivors' fund…

The Christian Brothers have committed to paying the final €8.8m instalment to a €110m fund for survivors of institutional abuse.

They are one of a number of religious congregations that have contributed to a statutory fund set up to pay for educational, health and housing supports for abuse victims, through Caranua.

The congregations had committed to providing €110m for additional supports for abuse survivors who had previously received awards arising from the establishment of the Redress Scheme.

The fund now stands at €101.62m, while a further €1.38m has been earned in interest and the outstanding €8.8m from the Christian Brothers to be paid early next year will bring the total to about €111.8m.

The surplus of €1.8m including €400,000 from the Christian Brothers' contribution - will go towards the new National Children's Hospital, currently being built on the St James' Hospital campus, as provided for in the legislation that established the fund.

The promise of the last instalment from the Christian Brothers follows the settlement of the row of the sale of lands for housing development at Clonkeen College, Dublin.

The operation of Caranua was the focus of an Oireachtas Education Committee hearing yesterday.

Ned Costello, an assistant general secretary in the Department of Education, told the committee that since Caranua began accepting applications in January 2014, it had received over 6,500 requests.

To date, €78m had been spent on services for applicants and 5,000 people have benefited directly.

Other applications are under consideration.

However, committee members voiced concerns about a number of issues, including success rates in appeals against decisions, the €15,000 cap on awards and practice in relation to returning calls to the freephone.

Committee chair Fiona O'Loughlin said it was likely that the committee would call for an independent investigation into the operation and management of Caranua

ANON Nov 22nd, 2018 @ 06:24 PM

Cost of Residential Institutions Redress Board work over €1.1bn…

During its 16 years in operation, the board has processed 16,650 applications

The work of the Residential Institutions Redress Board has cost over €1.1bn up to the end of last year - €130m more than the total awards granted.

The information was contained in the board's annual report for 2017 which was considered by Cabinet today and will be published shortly.

The awards are made to assist in the recovery of people who suffered as children in certain institutions and who have, or have had, injuries that are consistent with abuse.

The report stated that the work and the processing of payments has cost more than €1.1bn, when legal fees are taken into account, whereas the total awards cost €970m.

During its 16 years in operation, the Board has processed 16,650 applications - the average payment was €62,250, with the largest being €300,500.

Of the applications submitted,12,016 awards were made following settlement; 2,994 awards were made following hearings; 571 awards were made following review; and 1,069 applications were withdrawn, refused or resulted in a nil or no award.

The board is due to be dissolved but that is dependent on the outcome of a judicial review to be ruled on by the Supreme Court, most likely next year, and the enactment of the Records Retention Bill.

The general scheme of the bill, approved in 2015, allows for records to be kept from the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Redress Board and Review Committee, and the Government.

Drafting of the Bill is complete and a memo on publication will be brought to Government

ANON Nov 16th, 2018 @ 10:44 AM

The Christian Brothers have committed to paying the final €8.8m instalment to a €110m fund for survivors of institutional abuse.

They are one of a number of religious congregations that have contributed to a statutory fund set up to pay for educational, health and housing supports for abuse victims, through Caranua.

The congregations had committed to providing €110m for additional supports for abuse survivors who had previously received awards arising from the establishment of the Redress Scheme.

The fund now stands at €101.62m, while a further €1.38m has been earned in interest and the outstanding €8.8m from the Christian Brothers to be paid early next year will bring the total to about €111.8m.

The surplus of €1.8m ncluding €400,000 from the Christian Brothers' contribution - will go towards the new National Children's Hospital, currently being built on the St James' Hospital campus, as provided for in the legislation that established the fund.

The promise of the last instalment from the Christian Brothers follows the settlement of the row of the sale of lands for housing development at Clonkeen College, Dublin.

The operation of Caranua was the focus of an Oireachtas Education Committee hearing yesterday.

Ned Costello, an assistant general secretary in the Department of Education, told the committee that since Caranua began accepting applications in January 2014, it had received over 6,500 requests.

To date, €78m had been spent on services for applicants and 5,000 people have benefited directly.

Other applications are under consideration.

However, committee members voiced concerns about a number of issues, including success rates in appeals against decisions, the €15,000 cap on awards and practice in relation to returning calls to the freephone.

ANON Nov 10th, 2018 @ 10:59 AM

The report of an independent review into the abuse of three children while staying in a foster home in Galway is scheduled for the end of this month….

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said the report was expected after continued delays by the national review panel into the care of and situations surrounding the abuse of the children in care.

The Health Service Executive has already apologised unreservedly to the three children, now women, at the centre of the foster home abuse scandal.

Some of the women previously waived their anonymity to name the abuser as Keith Burke from Addergoolemore in Dunmore.

It followed an RTÉ Prime Time investigation.

In April this year, he was jailed after being found guilty of raping the three children between 2003 and 2007.

Independent experts under the national review panel are inquiring into the situation.

The review panel had been set up in the wake of the clerical abuse scandals and examines serious incidents.

There had been commitments that the review of the abuse scandal would have be completed last month.

Ms Zappone confirmed it was now expected at the end of this month and was independent.

“The abuse suffered by these very brave young women while in foster care in the early 2000s is shocking, and I am very sorry that their lives were so disrupted and deeply impacted by it,” she said.

The minister also said the national review panel was requested to pause while a criminal inquiry was being completed and that it was now back working.

“My understanding is that it will be reporting at the end of this month,” said Ms Zappone.

ANON Nov 10th, 2018 @ 10:53 AM

Former “singing” priest Tony Walsh will be sentenced in December for indecently assaulting a teenage boy 35 years ago….

Walsh (64) formerly of North Circular Road, Dublin 7, is currently serving a seven and a half year sentence for raping another boy three times in the 1980s. On one of these occasions, he raped the victim with a crucifix.

Walsh pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to his latest charge of indecently assaulting a teenage boy on a date in 1983.

He has 14 previous convictions for sex-related offences dating from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s.

Today Garda John Barrett said the boy had got drunk in an unrelated incident, had woken up naked and in pain with Walsh on top on him in a single bed.

Gda Barrett told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that this was Walsh's bedroom at the time and that he had assaulted the boy for a “split second”.

The injured party told gardaí it had been a “stabbing pain” and that he had roared and pushed Walsh off him.

The then-teenager saw Walsh was wearing a white vest with no underwear on. The boy put his clothes on as fast as he could and ran home, where he cried in his room before going to sleep.

The court heard he didn't tell anyone because he was so ashamed.

Garda Barrett told Mr Hayes that the injured party turned to drink after this incident. A victim impact report was handed into court but not read out.

The garda agreed with Paul Carroll SC, defending, that Walsh's guilty plea had spared the injured party from giving evidence at a trial.

Mr Carroll submitted to Judge Cormac Quinn that his client has a release date from his current sentence in 2021.

He said Walsh has served in the region of 13 years in jail for all the convictions against him to date.

.He said his client had been in custody for large periods of time and that the offending had stopped a long time ago.

He said Walsh has been dealing with his issues and accepting his wrongdoing “in the context of keeping his religious faith”.

Judge Quinn adjourned the sentence, saying he wanted to know about Walsh's risk assessment and what courses might be available to him on release from prison.

ANON Nov 6th, 2018 @ 10:24 AM

1/3...Mass escape using ladder among incidents at Galway Magdalene laundry…

Homeless agency compiles new history of Mercy Order building ahead of its conversion

The story of inmate number 105, who climbed out over the roof in a heavy shower of rain in an attempt to escape, and the tale of a family who smuggled girls out in laundry baskets, are among the experiences associated with Galway’s Magdalene laundry that appear in a newly published booklet.

The life of the late Lily McAllister, who also escaped from the laundry in the late 1950s, and the memories of two sisters who witnessed a mass escape via a workmen’s ladder, also form part of the record of the former Magdalene Asylum and Laundry in Galway city centre.

The booklet, entitled Remember, Respect and Record, has been compiled for homeless agency Cope Galway, which has been given the convent section of the Mercy Order building to develop a facility for its domestic abuse service.

Former inmates, and families who tried to help the women, were interviewed for the booklet, which was produced by John Tierney, director of the Historic Graves Project.

Records of 80 women who were buried either in graves at the site or in the cemetery in Bohermore are also published as part of a memorial to all those who lived and worked in the laundry.

ANON Nov 6th, 2018 @ 10:22 AM

2/3...‘Commercial enterprise’…

Galway’s first Magdalene asylum was opened by a lay charity group led by a Miss Lynch in 1822, and was taken over by the Sisters of Mercy religious order in 1854.

The nuns ran it as a combined “commercial enterprise and care facility” until the 1990s.

Four individual accounts include that of Maisie Kenny (not her real name), who was sent to the laundry in 1948 at the age of 14.

Her identity was a number inmate 105 and she worked long hours with women who had been separated from their infants at the Bon Secours mother and baby home in Tuam.

She escaped in a deluge during Christmas 1951 by climbing out over the roof.

Áine Hickey and her sister witnessed a mass escape in the 1960s, which took place when workmen replacing windows left ladders in place during their break.

She recalled seeing “apron and skirt blowing ” as an estimated 30 young women descended and ran.

While the Garda caught and returned some of them, others made it to Dublin or England with assistance from Galway families who gave them money and clothes.
Hugo McEntee, whose family helped a number of the Magdalene women, was also interviewed.

His mother, Ena, had worked in the laundry and his father Hugh was a van driver who would help to smuggle women away. Others would climb over the wall and ask for the “McEntees”.

Áine McDonagh’s memories of the late Lily McAllister, a former Magdalene inmate who came to work for her family in 1964, was also recorded by Lelia Doolan.

She recounted how Lily and a friend walked out of the laundry and were given shelter by a Mrs Kelly on the docks.

ANON Nov 6th, 2018 @ 10:20 AM

3/3...Burial grounds…

The laundry buildings were demolished in 1991, and the booklet notes that the burial grounds of the nuns and of the Magdalene women appear to have been segregated, with new headstones erected to replace earlier grave monuments in 2010 as part of a “tidying exercise” by the Mercy order.

The research by historian Dr Paul MacCotter notes that interment dates on headstones do not always match dates of death on death certificates. The most common cause of death given was phthisis, or pulmonary tuberculosis.

Cope Galway chief executive Jacquie Horan said the research represented a “small . . . sensitive contribution towards acknowledging the lived experiences of women who suffered enormous personal pain and loss”.

The organisation has received planning permission to transform the former convent and the new building will be named “Módh Eile”, the Irish for “another way”.

It is hoped that the €4 million project will be completed late next year.

Mr Tierney notes that even though the then government issued a public apology to the Magdalene women in 2013,“ there is a feeling the government is walking back”, and the recompense scheme is “suffering from some of the same problems as the running of the laundries” with “hierarchical and institutional” factors taking precedence over individuals

ANON Nov 6th, 2018 @ 10:17 AM

Survivors of ‘adjoining’ laundries to receive pay-outs…

Dozens of Magdalene laundry survivors blocked from receiving crucial compensation because they were officially placed in “adjoining” facilities will be given significant pay-outs before Christmas.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan will seek sign-off on the deal at this morning’s Cabinet meeting after Government legal advice that the funds must be fast-tracked due to the elderly nature of many of the women affected.

Mr Flanagan will say the State must help all Magdalene survivors.

Noting that the Quirke report failed to include at least 52 women whose applications for compensation were turned down because they were placed in “adjoining facilities”, the Justice Minister will say the issue must now be addressed.

It is believed his plan will focus on the need to provide the women currently excluded from any compensation schemes with lump sum payments, “pension-type” supports, and other paid-for health benefits.

The exact costs will be based on the length of time someone was forced to work in a Magdalene laundry and are understood to stretch into the hundreds of thousands of euro, with compensation likely by Christmas due in part to the elderly age of many of those affected.

ANON Nov 3rd, 2018 @ 09:39 AM

Former priest (83) jailed for forcing girl to have 'simulated sex' with him…

‘Force and violence’: Former priest Con Cunningham was told his offences perpetrated in the mid-1970s were at the “higher end” of sexual abuse.

A former priest who was held in the "highest esteem" has been jailed for nine months after having "simulated sex" with a young girl as he drove to Dublin in his car.

Judge John Aylmer told Con Cunningham (83) he did not accept the offences were at the "lower end of the scale".

Donegal Town Circuit Court heard although no penetration had taken place, the ex-priest had pushed the child's face into his crotch until he had satisfied himself.


The child suffered bruising to her genital area from "similar simulated sex".
Cunningham, of Glen Road, Carrick, had climbed on top of the girl and a "significant level of both force and violence" was used, the judge said.

And the effect on the victim was ongoing after 43 years and the offences were on the higher end of the scale.

Mitigating factors were his plea, albeit late, his age and the fact prison would be "onerous" on him, although he was a "fit" person.

The ex-priest was now on the Sex Offenders Register and had a significant "fall from grace", the court was told.

Cunningham had pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault against the girl on dates between January 1, 1976, and December 31, 1976, at a location in Donegal.

The defendant also pleaded guilty to a similar third count that occurred at an unknown location between Donegal and Dublin on dates between January 1, 1976, and June 30, 1977.

The State entered a nolle prosequi on two other counts.

Judge Aylmer initially imposed a sentence of 15 months but suspended the final six months. Cunningham was also bound over to be of good behaviour and keep the peace on his own bond of €100 for a year.

The then Fr Cunningham had begun the abuse by sitting the girl on his knee and tickling her.

The court heard the defendant was friendly with her family and involved in sports.

He made sure she was the last to be dropped off when coming back from sports events, the court heard

ANON Nov 2nd, 2018 @ 09:17 AM

Commission to begin investigating child sex abuse allegations against Bill Kenneally next week…

The Commission of Investigation into allegations of child sex abuse against Bill Kennealy will begin next Monday.

It will be led by retired Circuit Court judge Barry Hickson, who says today is an important day for survivors.

Bill Kennealy is currently serving a 14-year jail sentence for abusing teenage boys in Waterford in the 1980s and the former basketball coach is due to stand trial for further offences.

The commission will look into what if anything organisations including the Gardaí, Basketball Ireland and the Waterford Diocese, knew about the allegations.

Mr Justice Hickson said: "The survivors have been calling for an investigation for a number of years and I intend to ensure the facts are established in line with the Terms of Reference for this Commission.

“As there are criminal proceedings ongoing, it has been complex to establish this Commission of Investigation and I want to acknowledge the considerable work undertaken by the Department of Justice and Equality with the assistance of the Attorney General’s Office."

He also called for the "continued cooperation" of politicians and the media to ensure no current or future criminal proceedings are prejudiced.

He said: "Central to the work of this Commission is ensuring that the work we do in no way adversely impacts on any further criminal proceedings, including on the accused’s right to a fair trial or on the rights of those who have made further allegations of sexual abuse to have their claims fully investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted."

Formal hearings will begin later this month

ANON Nov 2nd, 2018 @ 09:14 AM

Legislation required to allow for the excavation of human remains at the site of the former Tuam Mother-and-Baby Home may allow for exhumations at the sites of similar institutions, the Minister for Children has said.

Speaking at Boston College in the US during a conference on the legacy of institutional abuse in Ireland, Katherine Zappone said the Government was aware that not looking at other sites could be an issue and was awaiting further findings from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.

“I anticipate that in our drafting of the legislation in order to do the exhumation and excavation of the Tuam site, the issue of ‘is this just for Tuam or is it for other possible sites’ will be addressed,” she said.

The Minister today said the decision to exhume the Tuam site was taken after the commission brought the issue to the attention of the Government. “If they find something and they bring that to the attention of the State it is our job to respond,” she said.

Mother-and-baby homes were generally run by nuns where women who became pregnant outside of marriage gave birth. In the main these babies were adopted, frequently by Catholic families in the US, in return for a donation.

Ms Zappone’s proposal for a phased, forensic excavation of the Tuam site was approved at Cabinet last month. Sources said Ms Zappone was asked by colleagues if the excavation of other burial sites was possible as a result of the Tuam plan but it was not clear if Ms Zappone directly addressed such a possibility at that time.

Ms Zappone subsequently offered “personal apologies” to those affected by what happened at Tuam, where local historian Catherine Corless found death certificates for 796 infants buried at the site.

Dr James Smith, the organiser of the conference, called for other sites to be excavated. He said many survivors had welcomed the proposed Tuam excavation but there were many other institutions with so-called angel plots and unmarked graves where children and unmarried mothers were buried.

“Though welcome, this is a model that very quickly needs to be applied to each and every one of the sites around Ireland that have children who are buried having died in State care,” he said.

Dr Smith said possible sites where excavation works could be necessary included burial areas at Bessborough in Co Cork, Castlepollard in Co Westmeath and Sean Ross Abbey in Co Tipperary.

ANON Nov 1st, 2018 @ 07:52 PM

1/2...Clerical abuse complaints surged ahead of papal visit in summer…

Archbishop tells conference focus on abuse prompted survivors to come forward

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: “We had five new complaints alone in July about abuse by already-known Dublin diocesan priests, as compared with nine for all of 2017.”

The Catholic Church in Dublin received five new clerical abuse complaints in July compared to nine in all of last year, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said.

In the lead-up to the visit by Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families in Dublin last August he said there was much focus on abuse which had resulted in more people coming forward with complaints.

“The dark days have not vanished for survivors. We were reminded with a jolt this summer how much those who were abused are still hurting.

With the discussions around the papal visit, many people with whom we had been in contact years ago got in touch with us again,” he said.

“The wounds of the past had been reopened and they were asking for support, assistance and also reassurance that we still viewed their complaints with the same seriousness as we did when we first heard them,” he said.

“We had five new complaints alone in July about abuse by already-known Dublin diocesan priests, as compared with nine for all of 2017.

The size of the march at the Parnell Square Garden of Remembrance shows just how much anger and how much hurt still remain,” he added.

Archbishop Martin was speaking over the weekend in a keynote address at the church’s 2018 National Child Safeguarding conference in Kilkenny.

“We have made progress but there is no room for complacency. Apologising can be painful but it can also be comfortable and easy.

We can say sorry and feel self-satisfied that all is forgiven and forgotten,” he said.

He recalled how he became Archbishop of Dublin 14 years ago.

“I came back to Ireland after living abroad for 30 years.

I came at a moment in which the crisis of the sexual abuse by priests and abuse of children in church-run institutions was at its height.”

ANON Nov 1st, 2018 @ 07:50 PM

2/2...Some said “that I came with specific instructions to address and resolve the question.

There is nothing farther from the truth.

There was an surprising lack of real awareness in Rome of the extent of the problem and little understanding of the nature and the extent of the challenge and especially that many of the roots of the abuse crisis were to be found within the lived culture of the Irish church and, as we now know, more clearly worldwide,” he said.

In Ireland then, there was an atmosphere “of crisis management in dealing with accusations”.

This moved to “a sense of pastoral concern”. He felt it important to remember some of those who helped bring that about. “I think of Maureen Lynott and Ian Elliot, and in Dublin of Phil Garland who was chosen to lead our first Child Protection Office by Cardinal Connell, ” he said.



At the time “victims and survivors were rightly angry and determined to bring the harsh realities into the public eye”.

They “were determined and courageous, assisted often by a pioneering group of journalists. I think of the late Mary Rafferty.

The media played and still play a key role in the challenge of the protection of children in the Catholic Church.

“Survivors like Marie Collins and the late Christine Buckley, to name just two, were determined and uncompromisingly forthright and often they were looked on in internal church culture as being ‘difficult’. All I can say is: thank God they were so,” he said.

He felt the lead-up to the World Meeting of Families in Dublin last August “was disheartening, given the reports from abroad such as the Pennsylvania Grand Jury, the Australian Royal Commission and others as well as the revisiting in the media of many of the traumas of our own past, the Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes as well as clerical child abuse.”

But it was important to remember “that we are not, despite how we may often be tempted to think, back where we were 20 years ago.

Things have moved on, progress has been made,” he said

ANON Nov 1st, 2018 @ 07:46 PM

Boston College hosts two-day justice event for Irish abuse victims…

Ireland's response to institutional abuse will be the focus of a major conference getting under way in the United States today.

Survivors, activists and researchers will gather in Boston College to discuss ways of achieving justice for victims of abuse.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone will deliver a keynote address to open the two-day conference "Towards Transitional Justice: Recognition, Truth-telling, and Institutional Abuse in Ireland."

The organisers of the conference say the recent announcement of a forensic excavation at the site of a former mother-and-baby home in Tuam, Co Galway, is to be welcomed.

They said that similar action should be taken when it comes to addressing other historical abuses.

Campaigners say that while the State has offered apologies and financial payments to some survivors, it needs to go further in areas such as access to documents and records.

Today's event will focus on the State's response to historical abuses at institutions, such as Magdalene Laundries and mother-and-baby homes.

It will also examine the impact of forced adoptions as survivors, activists and researchers gather to tell their stories.

ANON Nov 1st, 2018 @ 07:42 PM

1/3…US calls for transparency from Irish State on child abuse and forced adoptions…

For the children of Tuam, and Bessboro, and Castlepollard, and Sean Ross Abbey, and St. Pat’s, the Navan Road, and all related institutions, the State hinders the truth by denying access to information.

Towards Transitional Justice: Recognition, Truth-telling, and Institutional Abuse in Ireland, a conference at Boston College this week, starts a conversation about the need for greater transparency on the part of the Irish State in its response to historic abuse in Child Residential Institutions, Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, and the nation’s closed, secret and forced adoption system.

Truth-telling about these aspects of Ireland’s past demands a statutory right to access information records and archives for survivors, family members and the Irish public.

And, it requires a holistic rather than a compartmentalized response that also puts State action in the past, and in the present at the very centre of the conversation.

The need for this transitional justice approach was underscored by two recent events.

Last week in Dublin, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, T.D., announced the government’s decision to excavate the Tuam Baby Home site where it is believed as many as 796 infant and child remains lie buried in a disused septic tank.

The government has now committed to pursue DNA forensic testing to effect identification and individualization where possible, and ultimately ensure dignified burial and memorialization of the infants and children and to preserve this site of national conscience.

These actions are nothing less than the right thing to do!

Everyone who admires the tenacity and perseverance of Catherine Corless and the Tuam survivors and families welcomes Minister Zappone’s announcement.

But, does it go far enough?

The families will achieve a measure of peace of mind long denied them only when these decisions are implemented in a prompt and thorough fashion.

There can be no further delays.

ANON Nov 1st, 2018 @ 07:39 PM

2/3…What about the State’s own failures with regard to Tuam?

How do we learn those lessons in the absence of truth-telling that includes the State’s failures in the past and in the present?

For example, why has no inquest taken place since this site became the center of an international media frenzy in 2014? Did the prospect of 796 dead children discarded in this fashion not merit immediate investigation?

And, one might ask why no inquest was conducted for these children at their time of death? The local coroner was obliged to hold an inquest over each death in a publicly funded institution.

Four nights after Minister Zappone’s announcement, I watched Alice McDowell and Mia Mullarkey’s powerful new documentary, “Mother and Baby,” at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton, Massachusetts.

Approximately one hundred and fifty people attended the event. Peter Mulryan, who is featured in the film, and his wife Kathleen, patiently answered questions from an increasingly angry audience: “How could this happen?” “Who is to blame?” “Why is the Church not paying more?”

I sat in awe at Peter and Kathleen’s dignified eloquence and unwavering commitment to justice. He still seeks the truth of what happened to his baby sister Marion.

He has written to every government official. He has brought a case to the Irish High Court. But despite the fact that records exist, he is today no better informed as to her fate.

Might she be one of the babies buried in the tank? Was she one of the children sent to America? Was she falsely and illegally registered? Peter Mulryan is entitled to answers for these questions. And, Peter is not alone.

For the children of Tuam, and Bessboro, and Castlepollard, and Sean Ross Abbey, and St. Pat’s, the Navan Road, and all related institutions, the State hinders the truth by denying access to information.

Moreover, it refuses to reveal publicly what it knows, when it knew, and the many ways in which it failed to intervene and protect vulnerable women and children.

ANON Nov 1st, 2018 @ 07:37 PM

3/3…The documentary also exposes the connections between and across Ireland’s institutional complex. Peter Mulryan and his mother Delia entered the Tuam Home from the Central Hospital in Galway.

Four years later Peter was boarded-out to a household he characterizes as abusive; his mother at that point had already been transferred to the Sisters of Mercy Magdalen Laundry on Foster Street in Galway.

John Rodgers also appears momentarily in the movie. John too was a Tuam baby. His mother Bridie was raised in the Industrial School in Clifden, also managed by the Sisters of Mercy.

John too would be boarded-out and Bridie also ended up in the Galway Magdalen, escaping after eighteen years of forced and compulsory labor. Delia did not fare as well, ending her years behind convent walls.

Some of Peter’s crib-mates were adopted: a process that became legally available in Ireland after January 1953. Others were sent to America for adoption.

A Health Services Executive (HSE) Memorandum written in October 2012 suggests that as many as 1,000 children were trafficked out of Ireland to the United States from the Tuam Home alone.

The children not adopted were transferred at four or five years old to a near-by industrial school, perhaps Clifden or Lenaboy, or the dreaded Letterfrack.

Many of their mothers, if fortunate to escape the Magdalen, left Ireland, traveling to England and to America where they comprise Ireland’s Hidden Diaspora.

The “Towards Transitional Justice” conference at Boston College this week considers international best practice in responding to histories such as this. It promotes the inter-dependence of truth-telling and the ability to offer a guarantee of non-recurrence.

And, it contends that the path forward starts with greater transparency and access to information. Irish society owes nothing less to Peter Mulryan and to all the mothers and children who experienced and live with the consequences of Irish institutional provision.

Conference website: https://www.bc.edu/content/bc-web/academics/sites/ila/events/towards-transitional-justice/

James M Smith is an associate professor in the English department at Boston College. He is the author of “Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment,” and a member of JFM Research.

ANON Nov 1st, 2018 @ 07:34 PM

1/3...New centres for sexually abused children should result in more abusers jailed…

Child victims will get range of services for trauma as evidence expertly gathered

While a new pilot centre allowing for all the complex components of early-stage child sex abuse criminal investigations to be carried out under one roof is to be welcomed, it is incredible it has taken so long.

Best practice internationally has seen these centres established decades ago in some countries.

The Garda Inspectorate has repeatedly highlighted the shortcomings in Ireland’s approach.

But until relatively recently, with the roll-out of new Garda protective services units to assist adult victims, little had changed.

This is despite sexually abused children being the most vulnerable of all who fall victim to crime.

They need a nuanced and sympathetic response from the Garda and other agencies to limit the trauma they have already endured.

There are also practical considerations. If victims are not medically examined expertly, for example, and witness statements are not taken from them in a way that stands up to all the rigours of the justice system, perpetrators will escape prosecution.

If a victim does not, for example, properly account for their reasons for being at a particular location or account for marks on their body, this can be used to create reasonable doubt or witness unreliability later.

ANON Nov 1st, 2018 @ 07:31 PM

2/3…Complexities

An expert interviewer will be trained in these complexities and will steer victims through them. Similarly, if questions from an interviewer are too leading, or indeed not probing enough, the victim’s statement can become degraded as a piece of evidence.

The initial interview and victim statement that derives from it can be so important for a later prosecution that in the Netherlands, for example, only specially trained interviewers are allowed to carry out this work.

Generalist police officers who first come into contact with a child sex abuse victim are permitted to ask basic questions about the victim’s and perpetrator’s identity and when and where the alleged sexual assault took place.

And they can only ask these questions to aid them in deciding what expert interviewer should be called in to take the first statement of complaint.

Even family members of child victims can be counselled and offered advice at the new One House centres

The new “One House” model seeks to bring Ireland up to speed. In the new centres Gardaí and Tusla child protection social workers will be able to interview victims in comfortable purpose-built surroundings.

In the same buildings other staff will be on hand to carry out medical and forensic examinations. These very often yield the DNA evidence that secures a prosecution.

And even family members of child victims can be counselled and offered advice at the new One House centres.

The first such centre will open, on a pilot basis, early next year in Galway.

At present, interviewing victims as well as medically and forensically examining them and offering other assistance can take place across several locations. In many parts of the country this can be spread over a wide area.

ANON Nov 1st, 2018 @ 07:29 PM

3/3…Professionalism

One House is intended to provide not only these services under one roof, but to ensure they are delivered by experts trained for the task; a level of professionalism often missing heretofore.

The Garda Inspectorate, for example, has consistently highlighted how the first Garda member to speak to child sex abuse victims becomes the main investigator in their case. This happens simply because that Garda member was manning a Garda station public desk when the victim arrived to report abuse.

In many Garda stations the only place available to interview child victims has been the interview rooms where suspects for crimes were interviewed.

The inspectorate has further highlighted how few Garda members are trained to interview victims of child sex abuse. And even detectives, expert investigators of crime, were seldom trained to deal with child sex abuse victims.

The new centres, if they work, should reduce poor practice and help replace it with a professional approach.