Dublin: thousands in silent march for abuse victims

More than 7,000 people took part in a silent march through Dublin yesterday to show their support for victims of crimes committed in 216 religious institutions across the Irish Republic, documented in the Ryan report.

An official inquiry last month led by Judge Sean Ryan, reported that sexual, physical and emotional abuse had been "endemic" in industrial and reform schools, orphanages and other childcare institutions dating back to the 1930s.

The marchers, organised by Survivors of Institutional Abuse Ireland, carried children's shoes and wore white ribbons symbolising lost youth. They brought a petition to present to representatives of some of the religious orders named in the report. It read: "We, the people of Ireland, join in solidarity and call for justice, accountability, restitution and repatriation for the unimaginable crimes committed against the children of our country by religious orders in 216 institutions."

Wreaths, ribbons and children's shoes were laid at the Dail, the Irish Parliament
A spokesman said the march was also intended to put pressure on the religious orders who are due to increase payments to a compensation fund.

The march was timed to coincide with the government debate on the Ryan report. But this was postponed, because of a "no confidence" motion against the government.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said he was unable to attend the march, because he was attending the Catholic bishops' general meeting. He sent a representative.

After the meeting, the bishops said they had discussed the report and in a statement said it "represents the most recent disturbing indictment of a culture that was prevalent in the Catholic Church in Ireland for far too long".

"Heinous crimes were perpetrated against the most innocent and vulnerable, and vile acts with life-lasting effects were carried out under the guise of the mission of Jesus Christ," they said.

"This abuse represents a serious betrayal of the trust which was placed in the church. For this we ask forgiveness."

Earlier this week Archbishop Martin and Cardinal Sean Brady, briefed Pope Benedict XVI on the findings. The Archbishop said the Holy Father had been "visibly upset".

A judicial commission is now studying abuse allegations involving priests working in parishes in the archdiocese of Dublin, and the diocese of Cloyne in the south. A report is due later this year.

Share this story