- Published on Monday, 22 February 2016 12:40
(TO BE COMPLETED BY 25/02/2016)
"On behalf of the state and all its citizens, the government wishes to make a sincere and long overdue apology to the victims of childhood abuse for our collective failure to intervene, to detect their pain, to come to their rescue...all children need love and security. Too many of our children were denied this love, care and security. Abuse ruined their childhoods and has been an ever present part of their adults lives reminding them of a time when they were helpless. I want to say to them that we believe they were gravely wronged, and that we must do all we can now to overcome the lasting effects of their ordeals."
- May 1999, Former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, Mr. Bertie Ahern
This speech was made in Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament) in recognition of the sufferings expereinced by Survivors througout their lives.
After this apology, the state were swift in their responses with a number of items being created;
- A compensation scheme was established to provide for the sufferings of Survivors, known as the Residential Institutions Redress Bill (RIRB). (Closed 2011)
- Free Counselling systems were set up through the National Counselling Service to support Survivors.
- A Free Family tracing unit was established to support Survivors in tracing family they lost. (Funding stopped 2011)
- The Education Finance Board was created, offering state support to Survivors and their families in accessing Educational & Training opportunities (Closed 2011)
- Most importantly a Commission to Inquire into child Abuse, was established.
The commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (The Ryan Report)
This Commission was created to establish the real facts and depths of the abuse that were carried out on children in the Irish care system. It had originally been planned to be launched as quickly as it was established to coincide with the RIRB as there was still much misconceptions about the scale, severity and systematic abuse carried out on children in the Irish Care system, however the ultimate launch and findings came some 10 years later.
It streched to over 5 volumes, and over 2,600 pages with the sheer scale and level of abuse making international headlines in Ireland and indeed across the world. (The full report can be found by clicking here)
The Irish Times - called the report "a devastating indictment of Church and State authorities," "the map of an Irish hell." "The sheer scale and longevity of the torment inflected on defenceless children – over 800 known abusers in over 200 Catholic institutions during a period of 35 years – should alone make it clear that it was not accidental or opportunistic but systematic. Abuse was not a failure of the system. It was the system."
The findings were covered by media from across the world in the days following their publication.
Letters were sent to The Guardian in the UK and The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, expressing horror at the revelations.
The Canberra Times described the publication as a "major new report", reporting that Australia's clergy would be examined for any links to the "grim sexual abuse allegations" from Ireland.
Arab News, an English language newspaper from the Middle East said the report made "appalling reading".
The Taipei Times reported on the "shocking scale" of sexual and physical abuse in Ireland's educational institutions.
American networks, including ABC News and CNN, covered the story, as did the BBC, CBC and SKY News.
TIME reviewed the "most depraved acts" committed in its coverage of the story.
The front page of 21 May 2009 edition of The New York Times told of "Ireland's shameful tragedy", leading to reactions describing a "Nuremburg Trial, Irish-style, with no names, no prosecution and no court appearances."
In a specially comissioned event in the house of the President, the following was said;
"The people of Ireland are desperately sorry for the many ways in which you were not cherished, in the abuse itself, in the silence, in the failure to act, in the failure to listen, hear and believe in time. In their name I offer every one here and all those whose little lives were robbed of the joys of childhood our heartfelt sorrow.”
- June 2009, Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese