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Monday, December 5, 2016
Report on Irish institutions 'a shameful catalogue of cruelty'
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A nine-year investigation into Ireland's Roman Catholic-run institutions says priests and nuns terrorized thousands of boys and girls in workhouse-style schools for decades, and government inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rapes and humiliation.

High Court Justice Sean Ryan today unveiled the 2,600-page final report of Ireland's Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse, which is based on testimony from thousands of former students and officials from more than 250 church-run institutions.

More than 30,000 children deemed to be petty thieves, truants or from dysfunctional families - a category that often included unmarried mothers - were sent to Ireland's austere network of industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages and hostels from the 1930s until the last church-run facilities shut in the 1990s.

The report found that molestation and rape were "endemic" in boys' facilities, chiefly run by the Christian Brothers order, and supervisors pursued policies that increased the danger. Girls supervised by orders of nuns, chiefly the Sisters of Mercy, suffered much less sexual abuse but frequent assaults and humiliation designed to make them feel worthless.

"In some schools a high level of ritualized beating was routine. Girls were struck with implements designed to maximize pain and were struck on all parts of the body," the report said. "Personal and family denigration

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was established in 2000 to investigate allegations of abuse at Catholic-run children's institutions in Ireland.

The main findings were:

Physical and emotional abuse and neglect were features of the institutions.

Sexual abuse occurred in many of them, particularly boys' institutions.

Schools were run in a severe, regimented manner that imposed unreasonable and oppressive discipline on children and even on staff.

Children were frequently hungry and food was inadequate, inedible and badly prepared in many schools.

Many witnesses spoke of being constantly fearful or terrified, which impeded their emotional development and impacted on every aspect of their life in the institution.

Prolonged, excessive beatings with implements intended to cause maximum pain occurred with the knowledge of senior staff.

There was constant criticism and verbal abuse and children were told they were worthless.

Some children lost their sense of identity and kinship, which was never recovered. Absconders were severely beaten, at times publicly. Some had their heads shaved and were humiliated.

Inspectors, on their occasional visits, rarely spoke to the children in the institutions.

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, said in a statement:

"Today's publication of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, by Mr Justice Sean Ryan, throws light on a dark period of the past. The publication of this comprehensive report and analysis is a welcome and important step in establishing the truth, giving justice to victims and ensuring such abuse does not happen again.

This Report makes it clear that great wrong and hurt were caused to some of the most vulnerable children in our society. It documents a shameful catalogue of cruelty: neglect, physical, sexual and emotional abuse, perpetrated against children.

I am profoundly sorry and deeply ashamed that children suffered in such awful ways in these institutions. Children deserved better and especially from those caring for them in the name of Jesus Christ.

I hope the publication of today's Report will help to heal the hurts of victims and to address the wrongs of the past. The Catholic Church remains determined to do all that is necessary to make the Church a safe, life-giving and joyful place for children.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who is being installed as Archbishop of Westminster on Thursday, said: "It's very distressing and very disturbing and my heart goes out today first of all to those people who will find that their stories are now told in public...

"Secondly, I think of those in religious orders and some of the clergy in Dublin who have to face these facts from their past which instinctively and quite naturally they'd rather not look at.

"That takes courage, and also we shouldn't forget that this account today will also overshadow all of the good that they also did.




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Tags: Cardinal Seán Brady, High Court Justice Sean Ryan, Ireland's Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse


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