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28 May 2009 Edition

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Child abuse scandal - shameful 2002 deal must be undone

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

FOLLOWING last week’s release of the shocking Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Irish Government has come under mounting pressure to undo a controversial deal it did with religious orders in 2002 to compensate victims of abuse in religious run institutions.
The Ryan Report showed that thousands of children were abused, raped, assaulted and terrorised over a period of three decades in institutions run mainly by religious orders in the 26 Counties.
Speaking after the release of the report last week, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that all of its recommendations must be implemented but added that:
“The shameful deal between the government and the religious orders must be undone. Capping the religious order’s contribution at a paltry €127 million is nothing short of a disgrace.”
Then, on Tuesday, after almost a week of varied and contradictory statements on the issue by a range government spokespeople and in the face of huge public outrage, Taoiseach Brian Cowen called on the religious orders involved in the scandal to provide a substantial additional contribution for the victims. Speaking after a two-hour Cabinet meeting to discuss the recommendations in the report of the Ryan commission, Cowen said that it had found a much more systematic volume of abuse in institutions than was previously known or accepted by the orders.

CHILD ABUSE ‘NOT A THING OF THE PAST’
Speaking last week on the revelations of the Ryan report itself Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams said:
“The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse is an appaling and deplorable litany of abuse against vulnerable children whose only crime was poverty. All of the reports recommendations must be implemented.
“However, child abuse is not a thing of the past. It is happening every day. The government must implement the recommendations of the Monageer Report for out-of-hours social work services for children and families which are vulnerable. It is unacceptable that in 2009 the services needed to protect children in danger are not in place. “
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin also said that children are still subject to state neglect and are  suffering  abuse  or  in  danger  of  abuse as a result. He also drew attention to  the fact that the Government is refusing to implement  the recommendation of the Monageer Report for an out-of-hours social work service.
“Child protection  services  are  woefully inadequate with insufficient social  workers  and other front-line workers in place. The HSE knows of cases where children are in danger but the services are not in place to make the interventions required.
“The nightmare of  child  abuse  is  not  a  thing  of the past. It is happening every day. Most of this abuse takes place in the family home. If the services  are not in place then the State today will be just as culpable  as  it  was  in  the  past when it conspired with the Catholic Church to cover up the abuse of children”, he said.
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