Catholic Child Abuse in Ireland Greywashed

(Reuters) – Priests beat and raped children during decades of abuse in Catholic-run institutions in Ireland, a report said Wednesday.

Orphanages and industrial schools in 20th century Ireland were places of fear, neglect and endemic sexual abuse, the report said.

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, established by the government in 2000, blasted successive generations of priests, nuns and Brothers for beating, starving and, in some cases raping, children in Ireland’s network of industrial and reformatory schools between the 1930s and 1990s.

The religious orders investigated in Ireland include the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge who ran Dublin’s Magdalene Laundry — the subject of the 2002 film ‘The Magdalene Sisters’.

Also investigated were the Christian Brothers, who delayed proceedings through a successful court action defending their members’ right to anonymity.

The action led to the commission dropping its original intention to name the people against whom the allegations were made and only those who have already been convicted can be mentioned in the report.

The commission, originally set up for two years, was also delayed by what it described as the “adversarial and legalistic” approach of religious orders and by the resignation of its first chairwoman Justice Mary Laffoy a year later after a clash with the Department of Education.

(AFP)- “There is nothing by way of justice in any means significant in this report, nothing,” said John Kelly of the Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA) group, adding that victims of abuse “will also feel that the scars are still left open.”

“The state doesn’t want the world to know… that it abdicated its responsibility,” he added, saying survivors felt “deceived and cheated.”

I went a Christian Brother school in the UK, but it wasn’t a boarding school (thankfully), I got hit but no rape. What has been pointed out in coverage of the report is the huge number of people who after being abused left Ireland, the suggestion is they no longer felt safe in a country that colluded with the Church in covering up and thus enabled the abuse to continue. This report is a faltering step forwards but clearly the religious orders are not approaching this with contrition and the government has not stood up to them. Trying to present this as a closing chapter in the history of the abuse and torture would be a dishonest attempt at continuing the cover up under the guise of recognising it was wrong and then making insulting recommendations such as

… a memorial should be erected to all the victims of abuse in institutions and recommended that national childcare policy be reviewed on a regular basis.

Er, no. There need to be prosecutions and the Church has to compensate victims while the government provides the healthcare to help them. I’m sure St. Peter’s would fetch a nice sum even in a depressed housing market.

23 Responses to “Catholic Child Abuse in Ireland Greywashed”

  1. earwicga Says:

    I’ve just been looking at different things to do with this and found this site: http://www.paddydoyle.com/historyofneglect.html Which shows up criticism ever since 1944 being ignored by Church and state. Also, children were used to trial vaccines up to 1973, against the Nuremburg Code, as consent was not properly collected from parents – funny that most of the children in these homes set up for orphans, actually had parents!
    What was the court action that The Christian Brothers took to hamper this investigation?

    • RickB Says:

      Their action meant no names would be named ultimately

      Successful legal action by the Christian Brothers, the largest provider of residential care for boys in the country, led the Commission to drop its original intention to name the people against whom the allegations were made. No abusers will be prosecuted as a result of the inquiry.


      Guardian report is worth it too-

      Nine-tenths of the bill for compensating victims of the institutionalised abuse will be shouldered by Irish taxpayers rather than the church. In June 2002, a special deal between the Catholic hierarchy and the government of Bertie Ahern, agreed that the Church would pay only €128m in compensation. The overall cost of compensation, according to official figures, will be €1.3bn.

      • earwicga Says:

        Yeah, I get that nobody will be named. But how does this stop criminal investigations?

  2. RickB Says:

    Because the govt and the church have taken this line, the establishment are showing this is what they will do, a report, some recommendations etc etc. It’s down to power and the victims don’t have it. It’s such a large scale institutional issue unless they co-operate it’s an uphill task running cases one by one.

  3. earwicga Says:

    It’s beyond bloody belief!

    • RickB Says:

      I think that’s in part why so many left Ireland, powerful forces protected the abusers, the sex criminals, as has been said the police would treat victims as the criminals. So, like in a nation that was run by the mafia and you had offended the mafia, you do not feel safe.

      • earwicga Says:

        I also got that point. I just simply cannot see why such a large group of abusers are protected by the government and face no chance of prosecution. How can anybody, even the Church, see that as acceptable?!?!? Obviously I am late to this story as I have tried to ignore it before now as it involves such a gross betrayal of trust, but somehow it has slipped within my radar today.

  4. harpymarx Says:

    The Catholic Church (as with other organised religions) wields immense power as an ideology. And this power means protection. It is easier to ignore the evidence, the voices of survivors of abuse and to cover it up. Or to obstruct justice, which institutions like the Church and the State both do in tandem. And there are parallels with other groups of people whether it be people taking on the police, government and the overall state apparatus it is one uphill struggle. And it is isolating and alienating for people (and it is one hell of a brave thing to do) when they take on the weight of the establishment, in this instant survivors of sexual abuse receiving justice. Indeed these reports (like a lot of reports) are toothless and mealy-mouthed (I mean, FFS, a memorial…!!!!). But that’s what they do, indeed prosecutions and compensation is the way forward but that means openess, accountability and that means examining the ideology of these institutions, and maybe loosening their grip and power on peoples’ lives. Accountability, justice and transparency are very scary for the powerful and that’s why it is important to support people who take on these institutions. It is easier to write these toothless reports and make useless recommendations as opposed to making sure justice prevails and that the powerless are meaningfully represented. And also when the truth is out and justice does indeed prevail then these institutions unravel. The truth indeeds sets you free….

  5. harpymarx Says:

    Just to end, that’s why the establishment abdicates responsibility and does sweet fa as it is easier, and also, on the issue of class politics, where are these people in the political pecking order who want justice? They are in powerless positions in this society.

    • RickB Says:

      It’s an object lesson in what not having actual democracy is like, govt acts purely as management on behalf of the elites, when they commit crimes the victim’s are treated as criminals. In Ireland there is the special case of the closeness to the Church and in this context the govt. offloaded welfare/juvenile detention to the church and the deal seems to have been -and we keep schtum on what you do to the kids.
      The memorial is such an insult. People should stop giving to the Church and every Sunday give money to the survivors instead, then the establishment would take notice if their funding dries up. As for the ability of the Church to make moral pronouncements- finished.
      And about time.

  6. ralfast Says:

    Makes me sick to think that I have called myself a Catholic.

    • RickB Says:

      Such is betrayal. Maybe this is the tail end of the conservative Catholic hegemony, hopefully the court cases worldwide will bankrupt them.

  7. libhomo Says:

    I am so sick and tired of the favoritism shown to churches and religious organizations.

    • RickB Says:

      It betrays an interesting approach by politicians as brands, they share similar desires for faithful masses to support them uncritically. The kow towing to religious ‘leaders’ is I agree nauseating in the extreme.

  8. RickB Says:

    And thus they are encouraged by the wealthy.

  9. paul Says:

    The Ryan report only covered a limited selection of religious instututions in Ireland. The abuse perpetrated by the catholic orders also occured in normal schools. I attended MountSion in the 60’s and 70’s and was witness and victim of physical and sexual abuse. the christian brothers who ran this school were led by what I can only call a fascist headmaster who favourite way of dealing with dissent was to punch the kids with his full force in the chest. Others would flay children with bamboo canes until they bled. No prosecutions ever occured as anyone complaining was expelled and other rights like attending exams etc were prevented. The enquiry needs now to be extended to all areas where these criminals are active and reveal the other 9/10’s of the iceberg of criminal activity.

    • RickB Says:

      I’m sorry to hear of your experiences and you are right, this a tip of an iceberg of the treatment that was condoned by the establishment of the church and government. What’s worst is it seems they are fighting the truth because they want to keep the wealth the church has (and what little moral authority they still hold). I would say they have lost all that and should make amends openly and voluntarily, they still are not showing real willingness to deal with their crimes. The fight must go on.

  10. adrian Says:

    i am so angered to what the ryan report held and feel so much sorrow for thoes children subjected to such an ordeal – i put this together to voice my anger

    kinda sums it all up

    • RickB Says:

      Wow, thanks Adrian, that’s the first youtube original song comment posted here ever! If only it were a happier topic, I think the struggle for revelation and accountability is only just beginning.


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