Ryan report reveals shocking saga of abuse, cruelty and neglect
The Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, published today, depicts a truly shocking and sordid saga of the systematic abuse and neglect of thousands of Irish children who were handed over by the state into the custody of religious orders over a period of more than three decades.
While we have heard the vivid accounts of individual victims and even accounts of abuse in particular institutions, the cumulative impact of the details given in the report is absolutely shocking.
In these five volumes we have the personal accounts of 1090 men and women who were subject to physical, emotional and sexual abuse, neglect and wanton cruelty in more than 216 schools and institutions. And we know that these are only a representative group of the many of thousands of children who were similarly abused.
It is very clear from this report that the State and the Religious Institutions share the blame for the terrible treatment meted out to these children. Indeed the report is particularly critical of the role of the Department of Education, suggesting in particular that what it describes as the ‘deferential and submissive attitude’ of the Department towards the Congregations ‘compromised its ability to carry out its statutory duty of inspection and monitoring of the schools’.
In the light of these findings it is a matter of particular concern that it was the same Department that negotiated the irresponsible and profligate indemnity deal with the Religious Institutions in 2002. The original recommendation from the Department of Finance was that financial liability for compensation for the damage done to these children should be shared 50:50 between the state and the Religious Congregations. However, the deal negotiated by the Department and then Minister for Education, Dr.Michael Woods limited the Congregations liability to €127m, which we know now represents only around 10% of the total cost.
This is a matter that the Labour Party will be returning to, but today is a day for the victims and for a collective acknowledgement by Irish society of the terrible damage done to these children.
We all owe Judge Sean Ryan – and Judge Mary Laffoy before him- a debt of gratitude for the enormous the huge task of work they took on. I hope that the government will accept and urgently act on the recommendations made in the report.