The Mahon Tribunal cost the State some €200m. The State gave €30bn to save bankrupt banks.
A 2002 State redress scheme was set up to make fair and reasonable awards to persons, who, as children, were abused while resident in industrial Schools, reformatories and institutions subject to State regulation or inspections.
Martin McAleese led an independent investigation into the Magdalene Laundries and in his report last year concluded that the State was responsible for supporting them and recommended that women who lived and worked years in the Magdalene Laundries to receive compensation.
The Bethany Homes are not included in the redress scheme. The Chairperson of the Bethany Survivors’ Group explained (Letters, July 27) ) how he received over 1,000 documents in 2012 and other records which shows evidence of neglect.
The FG/Labour government’s decision is puzzling to this small group, who may go to the European Court of Human Rights. Bethany Homes were not included in the State’s 2002 Residential Institutional Redress Scheme, probably because they were not fully known about by the government of the time.
The Magdalene Laundries survivors’ campaigned had to be included and the Bethany Survivors group will too.
Government decisions can be reversed, like when the current Labour party Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, listened to concerns from fellow TDs on the impact of some planned cuts in expenditure for schools. He reversed one or two decisions, saying he did not fully realise their impact. Some in the Labour party were very supportive of the Bethany survivors’ case for inclusion.
Survivors of the Bethany Home have vowed to take their case to the UN following the Government’s decision not compensate its former residents.
Late last week, ageing survivors of the former residential institution in Rathgar, Dublin, were left devastated after the Government decided there was no basis for redress or issuance of an apology.
However, Derek Leinster, who heads The Bethany Survivors Group, said former residents would be holding talks with their legal representatives next month when they will consider taking their case to the UN.
Mr Leinster, 71, said he and fellow survivors felt “dehumanised” following Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s decision not to introduce a specific redress scheme for them. He criticised the Government’s argument for denying redress — that the institution was a “mother and baby home” — as “complete nonsense”.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” said Mr Leinster. “The Government is saying they don’t have enough evidence, but we’ve provided them with all the evidence they need that proves the State was responsible for death and neglect at the home. It’s incorrect to call Bethany a mother and baby home, as mothers did not bring their babies home and many children arrived with no mother at all.
“We began campaigning 15 years ago and we’ve been treated like dirt from day one. It’s not acceptable. We feel gobsmacked and dehumanised. We won’t stop fighting. Next month we’ll meet our lawyers and discuss taking the Government to court and, if necessary, the UN. We know we’re right and so do most people in Ireland.”
However, despite ruling out compensation and an apology, Justice Minister Alan Shatter indicated last week the Government was willing to look at developing a memorial and making records relating to the former home available.
Three years ago, 219 bodies of Bethany infants and children — who had died between 1922 and 1949 — were found in unmarked graves in Dublin’s Mount Jerome Cemetery.
The bodies of 28 children who died at the former home, which operated between 1921 and 1972, are still unaccounted for.
It is believed no more than 20 former residents would qualify for redress if a scheme were in place.
The incidents took place in the 1990s, but they did not come to light until last year.
Blame was directed at two former employees. One is dead and the other left the service in 1994.
Two of the allegations were investigated by the gardaí and referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
In the third case, the Brothers of Charity Service South East said the gardaí could not fully investigate it as the person involved opted not to make a statement.
“It is our understanding that the Garda investigation arising from allegations made by two of the complainants resulted in the submission of a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The DPP decided not to proceed with a prosecution,” it said.
The details of the cases emerged in documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. These showed the board of Brothers of Charity Service South East was briefed in April last year about the emergence ofa number of allegations dating back to the 1980s and the 1990s.
The board was told that protocols had been followed in the handling of the cases.
“The complaints that the chief executive advised the board by way of information related to historical allegations of sexual and physical abuse of three adults by two former employees of the Brothers of Charity Services,” the service said in a follow-up statement.
“In line with standard protocols, we promptly notified the Health Service Executive and An Garda Síochána of these allegations.”
Until now, allegations of sexual abuse by adults in the care of the service had not been known.
The incidents of child sexual abuse, detailed in the Ryan Report, were largely from the period before 1990.
In 1999, Brother Denis Quirke pleaded guilty to two counts of indecency and assault of a boy between 1985 and 1987. This related to abuse that occurred in the south east.
However, he had been under effective house arrest since those allegations first surfaced in 1990.
Other child abuse reports regarding services run by the order have emerged since the publication of the Ryan Report. However, it was believed these related to periods in the 1970s and 1980s.
In 2011, fresh allegations surfaced about the neighbouring Brothers of Charity service in Cork.
The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse said the order’s handling of abuse allegations at Lota, Cork and its protection of an abuser was a serious indictment on the order.
“The Congregation kept records about sexual abuse allegations concerning lay people, and routinely involved the gardaí,” said the commission. “The situation was different for Brothers. The allegations were dealt with internally, and no records were kept, or else were kept in codified language.
“For this reason, factual information about the true extent of sexual abuse did not exist, and abusers were left free to abuse again.”
It is hard to believe that the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, instructed his ministers to deal impartially and fairly with the issue of the Bethany Homes.
Bethany has once again been denied justice, and the survivors of this (minority Protestant community), have again been deprived of even-handedness.
Historically, the State starved Bethany of appropriate funding, and failed to implement the law of the land, to give children the protection of the 1908 Children Act, and all other international laws. It is mind-blowing to hear the Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, who was nominated by Kenny to carry out this duty for the citizens of Ireland. Shatter’s colleague, Kathleen Lynch, when in opposition, had to be contained, such was her outburst of passion for the Magdalene and Bethany survivors.
She, and other ministers and Labour TDs, were up to speed on the grotesque conditions that had been discovered by Niall Meehan and by my 15 years of digging for records that the Government would not supply.
If we had not been determined to get these records, the truth of the Bethany Homes would never have been known. RTÉ’s Prime Time broadcast the programme, ‘The Home the State forgot”. With the help of more than 1,000 FOI documents obtained in 2012, supplemented with records given to RTÉ, records found in 2007, we exposed how unwanted Protestant children were being treated by the Protestant Church officials and the State.
When you hear that same minister repeating the debunked statements issued by the previous government, saying there were no records, he is implying there was no damage done to these children. Do 219 dead children not matter?
How would the minister describe a child drowning in a boiling vat of gruel?
How would he define a mother who places her healthy child in Bethany, before she goes to the UK to work, and, months later, finds the child has had his back broken?
How would he term children who had rickets in their heads and legs? What would he say about me, when I suffered bronchial pneumonia, diphtheria, pertussis, and gastro enteritis (all at once). I have to live every day with the side effects of the lack of civilised care. Unlike the minister, I have the records to prove what I am saying, but the minister does not need records, as they mean not one jot to him.
Chairperson, Bethany Survivors Group
On behalf of We are Church Ireland, I welcome the Sisters of Mercy’s outlining of the contributions made by them to statutory compensation funds.
This information may explain their decision not to contribute to the costs of compensation for women who spent time in the Magdalene Laundries. The silence of the remaining three congregations — and of the Mercy Sisters up to Jul 20 — has damaged the good name of these congregations and of women religious in this country. Many people, including those of us who care about the state of our Church, are puzzled and dismayed to hear no direct word of explanation from these congregations. While we want to believe that there are good reasons for this lack of explanation, we have no answer to give those who ask us: ‘Why are the Sisters refusing to explain why they are now silent? The ongoing general and media speculation about the reasons for this silence will continue until the congregations concerned tell us the reasons for their decision.
We are Church Ireland
Department of Education and Skills (DES) Marlborough Street, Dublin 1
Ms Sylda Langford, Chairperson
Mr Austin Currie
Mr Tom Daly
Mr Paddy Doyle
Ms Bernadette Fahy
Ms Katherine Finn BL
Ms Phyllis Morgan
Ms Eithne Doherty, Secretary/Manager Education Finance Board
Ms Mary Higgins, CEO (Designate)
1. Apologies: Damian Casey, Martin Power.
The chair expressed sympathy on behalf of the Board for Martin Power on the sad death of his brother, Michael. She has asked that Mary Higgins attend Michael’s funeral on behalf of the Board.
2. Session on “What is it that we do?”
This facilitated session focused on clarifying the desired impact and successes of the RISF as well as the challenges and “tricky issues” which must be anticipated and addressed.
The session also began the process of consideration of issues to be taken into account in the development of criteria, approaches to decision making and assessing the quality and other standards of approved services and the implications of dealing with the situation in a number of jurisdictions.
3. Minutes of meeting held on 9th May 2013
The minutes of the meeting were read and formally approved pending clarification of the role of the Minister where public bodies in Ireland do not cooperate with the Fund. The minutes were proposed by Tom Daly and seconded by Bernadette Fahy.
4. Progress on decisions made at meeting on 9th May
As agreed at the last meeting, the CEO had captured all decisions made at the last meeting and presented these in a table with progress against them. In this context, issues arising and decisions were:
The Redress Board will provide RISF with the names, date of birth and addresses of individuals who received awards but it is not able to make contact with those individuals to advise them of the Fund
The proposed plan for data collection, consultation and market research presented by Mary Higgins was approved by the Board for implementation
A draft “Code of Behaviour” policy has been developed and it was agreed that it be considered at the next meeting of the Board
The Board agreed to open a bank account to process travel, subsistence and other payments
Procurement of a new server, computer hardware and software will be through the Government preferred suppliers.
5. Reports from sub committees
(a) Audit & Risk
Katherine Finn provided a report on behalf of the committee. The committee had held one meeting and agreed:
That it will meet at least four times a year
That the investment strategy will be to maximise the return on the Fund while preserving the capital invested and maintaining liquidity. Accordingly, NTMA has been requested to invest amounts for two years, one year and six months
To recommend to the Board the setting up a bank account which would be subject to external management on a consultancy basis
The committee met once and prepared for a branding workshop which was held on 10th June. The workshop was attended by Bernadette Fahy and Mary Higgins with Martin Power and Phyllis Morgan having input via telephone interviews with the workshop facilitator. A follow up proposal on branding will be presented to the next Board meeting.
6. RISF staffing
Mary Higgins presented a proposed staffing structure for RISF which was formally approved by the Board. The proposal envisages a maximum of ten staff, most of whom to be involved in interface with survivors applying to the Fund.
The proposal must now be presented for approval to the Department of Education and Skills and then to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. If approved, then the recruitment process will be managed by the Public Appointments Services and will draw from existing redeployment panels. These are panels of existing public and civil servants who are seeking alternative positions.
It was agreed that candidates should be interviewed and that if possible a survivor should be part of that process.
7. Education Finance Board
The cessation report was presented to the meeting, having been approved by the Audit & Risk committee and by the former chair of the Education Finance Board, Sean Benton. The Board approved the report.
The issue of storage of Education Finance Board files was discussed and it was agreed that the files should be kept in secure storage as they are important archives.
A suggestion was made that the Fund should begin to invite applications in the area of education so that individuals wishing to pursue courses would not miss out on upcoming deadlines. This was discussed but it was agreed that it would not be possible for the Fund to process applications without having developed the appropriate criteria and procedures and having the necessary staff in place.
The Chair informed the Board that Eithne Doherty was leaving to take up a post in the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee. A presentation was made to Eithne and Sylda thanked her for her important work in both the Education Finance Board and the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund
10. Next Meeting
Tuesday, 9th July 2013 at 10.30 a.m. Department of Education and Skills (DES) Marlborough Street, Dublin1.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have become the parents of a baby boy. He will never know poverty, will receive the best of care, attention and education, and live a life of inherited wealth and privilege. This wealth and privilege will be handed down to his successors.
On behalf of the people of Ireland, Taoiseach Enda Kenny wished the royal couple and their son well. It was appropriate for him to do so.
What a contrast between life’s expectations for the royal baby and for children born into the Bethany Home in Rathgar. On the day the Taoiseach congratulated the royal couple, the Government ruled out a redress scheme for former residents of the Bethany Home, stating that they “will not be able to access existing compensation funds”.
So much for the Government’s promises during the Children’s Referendum of 2012. Speaking in the wake of that referendum, the Taoiseach said the Government would respond “positively and wholeheartedly” and match the new legislation with appropriate action. Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald referred to the decision of the people as giving a voice to children, and that it was an historic day for the children of Ireland that would ensure their rights were better protected, and was an affirmation that the State recognised the ‘natural and imprescriptible rights’ of children, which would be protected and vindicated by the State. Legislation emanating from the passing of this referendum must be retrospective and embrace children of the past, including those from the Bethany Home, who have been exempted from the Residential Institutional Redress Act, 2002. It is absurd that abused children of Bethany are less cherished by the State than children of similar institutions.
Saying the Government had thought carefully about ruling out a redress scheme for Bethany survivors, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said that the former residents would be “disappointed” at the decision.
While acknowledging the attempts that have been made to heal the scars and wounds associated with institutional child abuse — by way of the publication of the Ryan report, the State apology to victims and the setting up of the redress scheme — the continued exemption of former residents of the Bethany Home from a redress scheme is not just “disappointing”, but morally wrong.
Sir, – The decision by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice to deny justice to the survivors of abuse in Bethany House makes me despair that Ireland will ever change (“Government rules out Bethany Home redress”, Home News, July 23rd).
Yet again, given the choice between doing the right thing, even at a cost, we instead see this Government default to type and instead choose to protect the system instead of its victims.
That choice denies justice to the victims of abuse in a Church of Ireland children’s home, where innocent children were sent because the State deliberately and consciously refused to carry out its duty to protect the most vulnerable in society.
It is simply not good enough for Mr Kenny and Mr Shatter to argue that times were different then. Lots of Irish people grew up in poor families but were not abused or mistreated, precisely because “even then” it was as wrong to abuse children as it is now and people knew it then as they know it now.
There is no dispute that children were abused at Bethany, so the only question remains is why it has been agreed that the State has liability for facilitating the regime of abuse inflicted on children by the Catholic Church, but then uses the same facts but reaches a different outcome when it comes to abuse by the Church of Ireland. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Saying the Government had arrived carefully at the decision to rule out creating a redress scheme for Bethany survivors, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter acknowledged that the former residents would be “disappointed” at the decision. While acknowledging the attempts that have been made to heal the scars and wounds associated with institutional child abuse by way of the publication of the Ryan report, the State apology to victims and the setting up of the redress scheme, I believe the continued exemption of former residents of the Bethany Home from a redress scheme is not just “disappointing” but morally wrong. – Yours, etc,
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has shifted his negotiating stance in a bid to squeeze an additional €500m worth of redress contributions from the religious orders.
By Conor Ryan
He reiterated his disappointment at the failure of the orders to accept the principal that they should pay 50% of a €1.46bn compensation and investigation bill.
However, he has got cabinet approval for a compromise approach to break a three-year deadlock between the State and the congregations. This is in a bid to overcome an obstacle linked to the ownership of land.
“The Government is obviously disappointed that the congregations have not agreed to a 50:50 share of the very considerable cost for redress,” he said.
“The Cabinet decision represents the most pragmatic way to maximise the level of contributions to be made by the congregations and the management bodies so that the taxpayer does not bear an unreasonable burden of the costs.”
Under the approach, the State will be willing to accept properties from the orders even if the title is not fully clean.
Typically religious properties have title problems due, in part, to their transfers under canon law, the existence of trusts, and the manner in which some sites were bequeathed for a specific purpose. In other cases, land is unregistered or registered by nuns and brothers using their birth names.
The department confirmed if the 18 religious orders are to meet the 50% target, they will have to contribute a total of €730m. So far they have paid over €175m.
Following the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009, the orders committed to giving €480m. However, much of this was based on property values which department memos revealed were unrealistic.
Many of the properties offered by the orders were not considered useful to the State or agencies such as the HSE. Others did not have clean title.
Twelve years after the indemnity deal was signed, legal discussions remain unresolved in relation to 20 properties offered to the State as part of the original €127m package.
A note from the Department of Education also explained the reason why the redress bill rose by over €100m in 2011.
This was because of late applications to the fund by victims before the final deadline in Sept 2011.
This brought the final cost to €1.46bn.
Evidence of child abuse unearthed in a series of investigations in recent years are to be kept in the national archives and sealed for at least 75 years, the Cabinet agreed yesterday.
The Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, and Good Shepherd Sisters will not apologise to survivors of the Magdalene laundries. As stated on RTÉ’s The God Slot programme (8th March), the nuns claim there is nothing to apologise for – they provided refuge to women abandoned by their families, the State and Irish society.
Neither will the congregations make a financial contribution to the Government’s reparations scheme, which was founded on the tenets of restorative justice. In holding to this position, the orders expose the Achilles heel of the Government’s Magdalene policy over the past two years – a policy dependent on the congregations’ voluntary co-operation.
Co-operation voluntarily given does not compel the nuns in any legal sense. Their negative response invalidates the Government’s assertion that survivors are being afforded restorative justice. There is no justice without the nuns’ apology and/or financial reparation.
The Irish Times takes no responsibility for the content or availability of other websites.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter told the Dáil the nuns seek reconciliation with survivors. But the legal definition of reconciliation “ordinarily implies forgiveness for injuries on either or both sides”. Instead, the orders expect an amnesty for gross human rights violations.
The Minister also relayed the nuns’ justification for refusing a financial contribution: they “continue to care for approximately 130 elderly and frail women”. These women are survivors of the Magdalene laundries and as such are also victims of forced labour, arbitrary detention, and cruel, degrading treatment or punishment. Moreover, the justification implies that caring for these women is an act of charity. It is not.
Mr Justice Quirke’s report points to the fact the congregations get HSE funding to offset the cost involved; they also control the women’s social welfare payments: “Some Congregations . . . are concerned that where payments are made to Magdalen women in their care, this could have an adverse effect in terms of funding for their ongoing care. A similar concern arises that any payments made under the Scheme . . . would adversely affect the entitlements of those Magdalen women.” (page 17).
The contention that the provision of “care” offsets a moral and ethical obligation to contribute to reparations seems, at best, disingenuous in this light.
One might well ask how the Government arrived at this impasse. The seeds were sown in the decision to establish an inter-departmental committee to establish the facts of State involvement with the laundries (June 2011).
The Government chose not to institute “a prompt, thorough and independent” investigation as called for at the time (and repeatedly since) by the United Nations Committee Against Torture, the Irish Human Rights Commission, and Justice for Magdalenes, among others.
The inter-departmental committee was intended as a fact- (never a fault-) finding vehicle of investigation. Church and State would co-operate to establish the facts of State involvement alone. The congregations’ culpability for abuses in the laundries fell outside the committee’s remit.
Government will not introduce Bethany redress scheme
The Government has decided it will not be introducing a redress scheme for survivors of the Protestant Bethany Home.
However, it has said it is willing to look at the questions of a memorial and the availability of records with regard to the institution.
The Government said it had confirmed the view expressed by Minister Ruairi Quinn two years ago that there was no basis for revisiting the previous government's decision not to include the Bethany Home within the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.
The Bethany Survivors Group has strongly criticised the Government's decision.
Chairperson of the group Derek Leinster said: "The offer to look at records production and "modest" funding for a memorial is an insult.
"We are not going away. We'll be back."
Last Thursday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil that a decision on a redress scheme for the survivors would be made this week.
On 25 June, the Taoiseach said Minister for Justice Alan Shatter would report on the issue to the Dáil early this month.
However, no such report has been made.
The Protestant-run home in Rathgar in Dublin was for unmarried mothers and children who were often cared for by inmates who had been detained by the courts for infanticide, prostitution and lesser crimes.
The survivors group said children were mistreated in the home and suffered an unusual level of ill-health.
It said the State took on responsibility for inspecting the home under the terms of the 1934 Maternity Act.
The group also said they were often abused when fostered out to or adopted by Protestant families throughout the island.
Three years ago, 219 bodies of Bethany infants and children were found in unmarked graves in Dublin's Mount Jerome Cemetery. They had died between 1922 and 1949.
Yesterday, the group received the backing of the Northern Ireland Executive for their campaign.
BETHANY survivors SHATTERED - refusal of long- promised announcement unacceptable
Justice Minister Alan Shatter has gone back on a government promise to announce a decision on redress for Bethany survivors today. Derek Leinster chair of the Survivors group said:
"Shatter met us in April with Kathleen Lynch and promised a decision in a month, then it was before the end of the current Dail session, then it was to be after a Cabinet discussion today.
Now, the Minister says today he is merely 'briefing' the cabinet and announcing nothing.
"Not only am I very very disappointed, I am also amazed. The other survivors are shattered - here is no other word for it.
"Taoiseach Enda Kenny promised us a decision today, he said so in the Dail on a number of occasions, he wrote it in a letter.
Who runs the government, Enda Kenny or Alan Shatter?"
Bethany survivors were in in Stormont yesterday (Monday 22 July).
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and the Minister for Employment, Trade and Industry, Arlene Foster, agreed to contact Enda Kenny and ask him to support the Bethany Survivors demand for redress and funding for a memorial to 219 dead Bethany children under unmarked ground in Mount Jerome Cemetery.
It's highly unlikely that the distressed hand-wringing from politicians will change the decision of the religious orders not to contribute to the Magdalene Laundries redress scheme.
Of course, the fact that the sisters have maintained a steely silence on the latest controversy, choosing instead to refer to past statements, makes it largely impossible for the general public to understand where they're coming from.
In private the nuns who were involved are more than willing to share their views.
The report into the laundries by Senator Martin McAleese was seen by the orders as offering a comprehensive picture of the complex involvement between church, State and the wider society that led to appalling situation where thousands of women were committed to these institutions.
And the opening line of the McAleese Report is one frequently cited by the nuns: "there is no single or simple story of the Magdalene Laundries".
This, the nuns argue, proves that the issues at stake are more nuanced than simply asking the orders to hand over half of the estimated €58m cost of the Government's redress plans.
I don't speak for the nuns, nor am I an apologist for the mistreatment suffered by the women in the laundries. But I know from talking to the sisters that they believe there is a wider context.
They point to the fact that a quarter of women were committed by the State and a significant number were sent to the laundries by their families.
The McAleese Report reveals that there were also instances when women went themselves voluntarily to the institutions, that the average stay as a laundry was seven months, and that more than 60pc of women spent a year or less there.
Who should compensate women who went voluntarily or were sent by their families? Should the State? Should the religious orders?
They also insist that they have been supporting some of the former residents on an ongoing basis, long before the Government considered its own responsibility.
The questions turns to whether or not the orders can actually afford to pay in to redress. There isn't a uniform answer. It's likely that some of the orders could afford to and others couldn't.
Many of the sisters are elderly and themselves in need of expensive nursing home care. A 2010 review found that the average age of a Sister of Mercy was 74.
For the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, it was 78. But money is a secondary concern.
The laundries were, according to the McAleese Report, "by today's standards, a harsh and physically demanding work environment". Who could argue with that?
Magdalene Laundries were the product of a society steeped in petty snobbery.
An Ireland of squinting windows where people who didn't fit the mould of an unrealistic idyll were to be hidden from view.
A glimpse into the widespread culture of the time can be gleaned from a 1921 letter by WT Cosgrave, then Minister for Local Government. Those in institutions, he wrote, "are no great acquisition to the community and they have no ideas whatever of civic responsibilities. As a rule their highest aim is to live at the expense of the ratepayers. Consequently, it would be a decided gain if they all took it into their heads to emigrate".
The nuns argue, rightly or wrongly, that it fell to them to pick up the pieces. The Conference of Religious of Ireland (Cori) summed up the mood among many nuns responding to the McAleese Report that "it is important that we, as religious, acknowledge the part we played in the entire issue, and it is also important that a system which had the support of many sectors of our society is not now presented as a matter only for religious – if the necessary healing and reconciliation is to be found".
Of course, all this may seem like a moot point for the now elderly women who were institutionalised in the laundries, many of whom see redress and compensation as a concrete expression of the fact that what happened to them was wrong.
More than 130 of these women are still being cared for by the orders.
The four orders involved are under no legal obligation to contribute and despite huge moral pressure, I very much doubt that the sisters will budge from their stance based in part on principle and part on financial constraints.
Expediency and reputation-management might dictate otherwise, but the nuns don't really do PR.
Michael Kelly is Editor of 'The Irish Catholic' newspaper.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has described as “grossly misleading” a correlation between the lives endured by residents of the Magdalene laundries and the thousands of asylum seekers currently living in direct provision centres.
Mr Shatter was responding to comments by Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly that Taoiseach Enda Kenny may one day have to issue an apology to asylum seekers along the lines of the one he offered to survivors of Magdalene laundries.
In a written Dáil response, Mr Shatter said: “I do not accept the attempted correlation between the residents of direct provision accommodation centres and past residents of industrial schools or Magdalene laundries.
He said all EU member states operate systems for dealing with asylum seekers. “In reality, the system in this State is at least on a par and often significantly better than that in operation in many other member states. In the circumstances, it is grossly misleading to characterise our treatment of asylum seekers as being akin to that meted out to subjects of abuse who had no protection of the law or relevant State bodies.”
Mr Shatter confirmed that there are currently 4,116 residents in direct provision centres across the country.
The vast majority of the asylum seekers are from the developing nations, however, new figures provided by Mr Shatter confirm there are citizens from economic powerhouses, the United States, Germany and China being accommodated at the centres.
The country with the largest number living in direct provision is Nigeria (1,211) followed by the Democratic Republic of The Congo (415) and Pakistan (309).
Germany and US each have one person living in direct provision with nine from China with an additional five being “stateless”.
Mr Shatter confirmed the Reception Integration Agency (RIA) has spent €25.75 million in the six months to the end of June with the full year estimate at €57.5m. This compares with the €62.3m spend in 2012.
The figures show that 68% or 3,129 of the 4,616 asylum seekers are living in direct provision three years or more and that includes 600 living in the direct provision for seven years or more.
Mr Shatter said: “I accept that the direct provision system is not ideal and many residents spend too long there. But it is a system which facilitates the State providing a roof over the heads of those seeking protection or the right to remain in the State on humanitarian grounds or other reasons.
“It allows the State to do it in a manner that facilitates resources being used economically in circumstances where the State is in financial difficulty.
Mr Shatter added: “There is no question but that the asylum system is slow, fragmented and is in need of reform and I am determined to see this reform through. For me, the length of time spent in the Direct Provision system, rather than the quality of provision within the system itself, is the real issue and I am committed to remedying that.”
Investigation into abuse hampered by lack of laws at the time over reporting sexual crimes
Maeve Sheehan – 21 July 2013
NOT a single Catholic bishop or priest will be prosecuted for covering up the scandal of clerical sex abuse over several decades at the end of a three-year Garda investigation.
The enormous and time-consuming investigation involved a team of 12 to 14 detectives who interviewed more than 800 witnesses over three years.
The probe was launched in 2009 after the Murphy report on clerical abuse in the Dublin archdiocese revealed how the Catholic priests and bishops colluded with state authorities and gardai to shield paedophile priests.
Detectives were unable to build a case against surviving clergy for secretly moving paedophiles from parish to parish during the Eighties and Nineties because covering up for child abusers was not a specific offence at the time.
New laws, such as reckless endangerment of children and defilement of a child, were passed only six years ago, while withholding information on child abuse became a criminal offence last year.
Senior Garda sources confirmed to the Sunday Independent this weekend that the case was now closed, without a single member of the clergy facing prosecution.
"Unless new evidence emerges or someone comes forward, the investigation is done and dusted," a senior source said.
The then Garda Commissioner, Fachtna Murphy, launched the inquiry in 2009, saying its focus was to establish whether the failings of the Church and state authorities "amounted to criminal behaviour".
He appointed an assistant commissioner, John O'Mahony, to report back on possible crimes, with a view to forwarding them to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Sources said Dublin Archdiocese, under Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, co-operated fully and opened up the files to the investigation team.
More than 800 people were interviewed, including serving and retired priests, bishops and cardinals, along with victims of abuse and members of An Garda Siochana.
Sources said the investigation was complicated by the absence of laws relating to the reporting of sexual crimes and child abuse in the period under investigation. Some key clerical witnesses were elderly and infirm, and there were also instances in which some of the victims were reluctant to revisit the abuse they had suffered as children.
The investigation was later broadened out to include allegations of collusion and cover-up in the Cloyne diocese in Cork.
Files were sent to the DPP in "a number of cases" in relation to both Dublin and Cloyne. But the DPP decided not to prosecute in any of the cases and the investigation has been shut down.
The Murphy report cited numerous instances in which senior clerics failed to act on information on clerical abusers. It found that the Catholic hierarchy hid decades of child abuse to protect the Church's reputation, in some cases with the collusion of gardai.
Cardinal Desmond Connell was among four archbishops criticised for not handing over information to authorities on abusers. The report found that he was "slow to recognise" the seriousness of clerical sex abuse, and allowed priests to remain in ministry even though he was aware of complaints against them.
The final chapter of the Murphy report, which was finally published last weekend after being held up by legal proceedings, revealed an "inappropriate relationship" between gardai and the Catholic Church.
While the criminal investigation into the cover-up of child abuse is closed, the Garda watchdog has launched its own inquiry into how members of the force handled child abuse investigations.
The Garda Ombudsman launched the investigation "in the public interest" last year, on foot of the commission of inquiry into child abuse in the Cloyne diocese.
The report found that in one case, files and statements relating to a complaint of abuse against a priest were never found. It appeared that a second complaint against the priest was not investigated.
DANIEL McCONNELL Political Correspondent – 20 July 2013
THE religious orders who ran the controversial Magdalene Laundries have strongly rejected newspaper claims they have given just €1.6 million to a fund for survivors.
In a lengthy statement, the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy insisted they have contributed €21.7 million in cash to the Statutory Fund since 2009.
The Sisters argued that “as taxpayers who donate their net salaries/pensions to our charitable funds, our Sisters share in the burden of all citizens in responding to women for whom, in past decades, admission to Magdalene Laundries was seen as appropriate refuge.”
The Sisters were last week severely criticised for stating that they would not be contributing to the state scheme, which led to calls for their orders to lose their charitable status. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Justice Minister Alan Shatter both ruled out such a move, claiming an inability to do so.
In their statement yesterday, the sisters claimed that the €21.7 million cash already paid “is part of a larger contribution offered by our Congregation and valued in December 2009 at in excess of €127.5 million”.
“The Congregation has been steadfast in its efforts to bring about the complete implementation of its contribution to the State. We clarified that we would not contribute financially to the State Scheme. We reminded Minister Shatter that our Congregation has provided care to women who spent time with us in many different contexts throughout our history and that we will continue to do so in ways that accord with our mission,” the statement added.
The Sisters of Mercy restated they welcomed the June publication of the Quirke Report, which recommended the establishment of a statutory fund, but the refusal of the Sisters to contribute means the taxpayers will be left with the hefty bill of up to €56m.
Despite his insistence that he cannot force them to make a financial contribution, he called on the organisations to “reflect” on their decision.
It is morally reprehensible that the four religious orders have said that they will not pay a cent in compensation to the victims of their Magdalene Laundries.
My heart goes out to those women who heard that news yesterday because it is tantamount to being victimised and abused all over again.
Why is that? Because it is about power and control over these women’s lives — just like the orders had over their past lives in those laundries, now they are scoffing at the victims and saying, “We continue to have power and control over your present and future lives”. And they’re even going further — because they’re saying it���ll be your sons and daughters and brothers and sisters who, as taxpayers, can pay for our sins of inhumanity, cruelty and brutality. If the religious orders claim they can’t pay, (which is just literally unbelievable!) then let’s ask their ‘National Mother Church’. Let’s ask the bishops, archbishops and cardinal who were so exercised in the past number of weeks about the right to life of the unborn.
Let them give us their reaction to this pronouncement by the religious orders. It is so easy to express concern for and to defend the unborn but it is a different story to demonstrate genuine support for the living, when there is an actual financial cost to their organisation.
I’d also welcome a public reaction from Fr Sean Healy of CORI/Social Justice Ireland. He recently issued a scathing attack on the Government saying that the “Government continues to protect the rich at the expense of the rest of us while failing to address issues such as unemployment and emigration”. Well Fr Sean, will you defend the religious orders as they impose reduced health and social welfare services on the poor and vulnerable by letting the taxpayer pay the compensation?
I earnestly call on ordinary people to not let this abuse happen again to these women; and to make their disapproval known to these religious orders and the priests of every parish in this country.
It would be a grave miscalculation for the four religious congregations that owned and operated the Magdalene laundries to persist in their refusal to contribute to a compensation fund for former inmates. Religious sisters have retained a high level of approval and support within society, even as their male counterparts forfeited public confidence because of a succession of scandals and their responses to them. A legalistic reaction to moral and ethical responsibilities could, however, erode their status as caring and nurturing organisations.
There is always time to revisit extreme positions. The sooner it happens, the less damage it is likely to cause. Previous governments rejected responsibility for what went on in Magdalene laundries. They refused compensation to inmates and denied them access to the Residential Redress Board. It was only when Martin McAleese formally identified State involvement in the incarceration of about one-quarter of inmates that the situation changed. A compensation fund that may cost the taxpayer in excess of €38 million has recently been put in place. It seems reasonable that the congregations that ran the laundries, where young women were incarcerated, denied education and psychologically damaged, should offer some monetary compensation.
Denial and the protection of financial assets have been the primary responses by the Catholic church, not just in Ireland but throughout the world, as it faced claims of sexual abuse. For the Irish community of nuns to follow their male counterparts down that path of denial, based on crude financial assessment, would be a serious mistake. Irish people expect better of them. A pattern, whereby male religious orders are declining to meet their financial responsibilities, has emerged. Compensation for the sexual, physical and psychological abuse of children in residential institutions may cost in excess of €1.36 billion.
Following the Murphy and Ryan reports, the Government suggested the 18 congregations involved should share that cost on a 50:50 basis. Last year, there was a shortfall of €200m. Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said he had no wish to bankrupt the congregations and acknowledged their contributions to society. But he said they had to face up to their responsibilities. A similar approach, involving moral and ethical persuasion, has been adopted on this occasion. Minister for Justice Alan Shatter was right to reject a demand by former Magdalene inmates to strip the congregations of their charitable status. Such action would suggest victimisation. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore have, however, emphasised the ethical obligations of the sisters and asked them to reconsider their position. Their response is likely to have a profound impact on public opinion.
The Catholic Church is as imaginative and determined as any fallen Celtic Tiger high roller when it comes to trying to protect assets.
It has shown it is prepared to put resources beyond the reach of those entitled, morally and legally, to compensation from the Church.
Earlier this month the New York Times reported how Cardinal Timothy F Dolan, then based in Milwaukee, requested and got Vatican permission in 2007 to move nearly $57m (€43.5m) into a cemetery trust fund to protect the cash from victims of clerical sexual abuse.
Cardinal Dolan, now archbishop of New York, denies trying to ring-fence funds. However, in a 2007 letter to the Vatican he argued that by transferring the assets, “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability”.
Irish orders, particularly the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Charity, have taken considerable assets off the table by transferring them to various trusts. Echoing that philosophy in recent days the four congregations who ran Magdalene laundries announced that they will not make a financial contribution to the taxpayer fund set up for former residents. The Mercy Sisters, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Sisters of Charity and the Good Shepherd Sisters had been expected to make a contribution to a €58m scheme.
Their refusal follows a pattern. After the Murphy and Ryan reports were published it was proposed that the 18 congregations involved share an estimated compensation bill of €1.3bn on a 50:50 basis with Government. Last year, there was a shortfall of €200m on the part of the religious orders.
The situation has been made even more fraught by a recent court ruling on land zoning which enhanced that value of lands owned by the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Charity considerably. The orders succeeded in getting a veto on development in regards to properties in Dublin overturned.
Even if the Government’s refusal to be swayed by the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion and Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s trenchant criticism of the Vatican’s role in child abuse scandals has influenced this refusal, and it is hard to think that it has not, it still seems an error of judgement of spectacular proportions on the part of these orders. Though the financial aspect of this unfortunate impasse is not irrelevant, something much larger is at stake.
It is not overstating the case to suggest that the Catholic Church’s place as a legitimate, respected part of this society is brought into question by the refusal. Its clergy, at all levels and of both genders, offer their primary allegiance elsewhere, but if they are to remain an influential force in this society, more often than not for the good, they cannot ignore responsibilities incurred by appalling behaviour. Neither can these responsibilities be modified to match the waning — or growing — influence of the Church in society.
All of society must accept some responsibility for these abuses, but as a primary player the Catholic Church must shoulder a greater burden than most. The Catholic Church’s role and influence in this country is at an historically low level. If the four Magdalene orders maintain their refusal on financial support for the compensation scheme that position will diminish further. And, as in every other step along the road to the destruction of the Church’s reputation and the respect afforded it over the centuries, they will have no one to blame but themselves.
Two Magdalene orders which have refused to contribute to the laundry redress scheme are one step closer to multi-million euro windfalls thanks to a land zoning change.
By Conor Ryan
Dublin City Council has abandoned an attempt to place a highly restrictive zoning condition on schools, hospitals and institutional sites.
All these properties will now have the potential to be redeveloped by the orders as residential and commercial buildings if land parcels are no longer required for their current purpose.
This will particularly benefit gardens and gateway tracts and, in the case of the Sisters of Charity, improve the prospects for 108 acres it owns around the city. The council had wanted to preserve all institutional sites with a planning status that would keep them as public amenities, even if the orders were no longer using them.
However, this was challenged in the High Court by the Sisters of Charity who argued the proposal was a violation of a religious body’s constitutional right to manage its property without interference from the State. During the High Court case it emerged that up to 77% of the private sites earmarked for this preservation status were owned by religious entities. The council suggested the Sisters of Charity were spearheading what was tantamount to a class action on behalf of congregations.
However, the Defence Forces, the Health Service Executive and RTÉ also benefited.
The Sisters of Charity won an injunction against the original development plan. And at a special meeting of the council a relax zoning status was put on the land.
Some of the affected land belongs to the Sisters of Mercy and includes its properties at the Mater Hospital and nearby Temple Street.
However, earlier submissions by the Sisters of Charity suggests it will be one of the biggest beneficiaries.
The order has identified undeveloped land in Donnybrook, Harolds Cross, Sandymount and Walkinstown which is excess to its needs.
In submissions it told the council its Walkinstown property, which adjoins one of its schools, should be redesignated for a higher-density commercial centre.
Similarly its headquarters in Sandymount and a large tract of green space behind Our Lady’s Hospice in Harolds Cross could also be redeveloped.
It also owns the St Vincent’s Hospital campus in Merrion, which was also affected by the zoning decision.
The order has separately refused to contribute to the Magdalene redress scheme and previously told Education Minister Rúairí Quinn that it could not afford to meet its cash commitments to the child abuse fund.
During the special development plan meeting efforts by individual councillors to place a cap on the amount of units that could be built on these lands were defeated at a vote.
These would have imposed a 20-unit per hectare cap on any developments, but this was voted down in favour of precedent from An Bord Pleanála that would allow three times the density.
A DECISION ON redress and an apology for the former residents of the Bethany Home is expected to be made next week.
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald said that a commitment has been made by the Taoiseach that cabinet will make its decision on the Protestant Bethany Home when it meets next week.
Former residents of the home, who spent time there when they were children, have been campaigning for redress and an apology from the Government for what occurred there.
Derek Leinster, chairperson of the Bethany Survivors Group, said that they are “now hoping [the Government is] going to do the right thing”.
However, he added: “Every time we hear something it’s a couple of steps up and another couple back.”
The survivors are now hopeful that they will see a positive resolution to their calls for redress. “It’s great news and very positive news and we can only hope that they are starting to do the right thing,” said Leinster. “For the few people that’s left, it’ll mean so much. It’ll mean so much for Ireland – it will be seen in a different light.”
A woman who was a friend and inspiration to survivors of institutional abuse has passed away.
Emma Sharma Hayes died peacefully on June 3rd at age 62. She had worked as a nurse in Britain before returning in later life to Ireland where she lived in Dublin’s Jervis Street. Emma experienced cruelty at the hands of a religious order in her childhood.
Only decades later would this wound that marred her early years be acknowledged by the relevant Order. In the interim, however, Emma displayed a remarkable lack of bitterness towards the people responsible.
She quietly helped survivors of institutional abuse, availing of her nursing and counseling skills, and her talent and qualifications as a creative writer, to lend support to people struggling to come to terms with the wrongs of another era.
She welcomed as a watershed in Irish history the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009 that exposed the horrors of what happened in State-funded industrial schools and the more recent report on the Magdalene Laundries.
Despite her reservations about organized religion, Emma was a deeply spiritual person. A student of the works of Carl Gustav Jung, she had an open mind on what other levels of existence might await us after death.
She adopted many causes pertaining to environmental protection and the safeguarding of heritage sites. Emma was a familiar sight on the Hill of Tara during the campaign against the routing of a motorway through the Tara-Skryne valley. For her, it was more than a culturally and archeologically significant location: It was part of Ireland’s soul.
The preservation of Ireland’s woodland heritage was another cause she cherished. She joined protests at the Dail that urged a reversal of plans to sell off the harvesting rights to our forests.
Emma was active in the Green Party and though saddened by its 2011 electoral setback, she was delighted with the election of Dublin North TD Clare Daly whose political ethos and social analysis she felt resonated with her own.
She organized petitions for a whole range of human rights causes, especially ones pertaining to the ill-treatment and persecution of women. She also supported the campaign against blood sports.
Her life of service to others and the causes she held dear were reflected in the attendance at her funeral service at Mount Jerome. Representatives of many campaign groups were there to say goodbye to Emma, as were her daughter Brogan and son Vijay, to both of whom she was a caring mother and friend.
The four religious congregations that ran the Magdalene laundries have told the Government they will not make any financial contribution to the multimillion-euro fund set up to recompense former residents.
However, it is understood they have said they are willing to assist fully in all other aspects of the package recommended by Mr Justice John Quirke in his recent report, including the assembly of records and looking after former residents who remain in their care.
A spokeswoman for Mr Shatter said he was “disappointed” with the decision of the four orders not to make a financial contribution.
He will brief his ministerial colleagues about the situation at the weekly Cabinet meeting this morning.
Three of the four orders contacted through a spokesman were not prepared to make any comment at this point in time.
The Government announced the scheme last month after Mr Justice Quirke had conducted an examination of the various options to compensate the women who lived in the laundries, many of whom are now elderly.
The minimum payment was €11,500 for women who spent three months or less in a laundry and the maximum approved was €100,000 for those who were residents for 10 years or more.
Groups representing the women argued that higher awards should have been made available to those who had been long-term residents.
There was no onus on any applicant to show they had suffered hardship, injury or abuse. Some 600 women are reckoned to be eligible. The scheme is expected to cost between €34.5 million and €58 million.
When the scheme was announced, Mr Shatter said taxpayers expected the four religious orders to share the burden and make a contribution to the scheme. He would not be drawn on the amount he expected them to contribute.
The scheme follows on from a full apology on behalf of the State made to the survivors by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil this year, in which he said that nobody should have been subjected to the conditions they endured.
That apology came in the wake an investigation by former senator Martin McAleese into the running and conditions within the laundries which were in operation for the best part of a century.
The report also established that the State had played a significant role in the continued operation of the laundries.
An Garda Síochána repeatedly refused to make any information available to the Irish Examiner on its two-year investigation into how gardaí handled allegations of clerical abuse in the Murphy Report.
Over the weekend, following the publication of chapter 20, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan confirmed that just one file was sent to the DPP after an investigation by assistant commissioner John O’Mahoney. The DPP decided not to prosecute.
The previously redacted chapter 20 of the Dublin Archdiocese report revealed an “inappropriate relationship” between gardaí and the Catholic Church and how complaints to gardaí about serial paedophile Fr Patrick McCabe were “stifled” internally.
The investigation, which began in 2011, was looking at the report in its entirety, including both the Dublin and Cloyne investigations.
General queries about the Cloyne leg of the probe were first put into the Garda Press Office in late May but no response to a series of questions was forthcoming for another month, despite follow-up phonecalls.
Despite being aware from sources that a file relating to at least one now retired senior garda had been returned from the DPP without a recommendation for prosecution, these questions were ignored by gardaí.
Questions about how many individuals, in ecclesiastical and State authorities, were investigated were not answered. Neither were questions on how many gardaí, and of what rank, were under probe.
Last night, another request for detail about how many individuals were recommended for prosecution by the gardaí in the file that went to the DPP was sent by the Irish Examiner.
In response, we were told: “A file was forwarded to the DPP, we will not be discussing the contents of files submitted to the DPP.”
Another Garda statement read: “It is a matter of regret that people did not receive the appropriate attention and action from the Garda Síochána to which they were entitled. The policies and structures now in place are very much victim-focused.”
The Murphy Report showed how the boy who made the first complaint against McCabe in 1977 returned to his school years later to recount how he had been affected by the abuse and seeking compensation.
However, a complaint of blackmail by the victim was made by the then headmaster to gardaí and telephone taps were put in place by the gardaí with “scurrilous” comments on his character included in the Garda file. This case was known of by the then commissioner and gardaí recommended prosecution to the DPP’s office. The DPP refused.
Chapter 20 of the report also reveals how in Aug 1986, a complaint was made to a Garda station after a young boy was abused and had to attend the Rotunda Sexual Assault Unit.
The commission describes how “a very good statement” was taken from the boy that night by a garda and how it contained much information that could be independently verified.
However, the probe was suddenly stopped after the Church was informed and a call looking for advice was made to the DPP’s office. The priest had admitted previous abuse to the boy’s father yet a Garda statement was never requested from the boy’s parents.
At the same time, Fr McCabe had made “certain limited admissions” to a friend of his, Chief Supt Joe McGovern, whose house he was renting, about this particular complaint.
However, Mr McGovern did not pass these on to gardaí, saying he believed it was “an issue for the Church to deal with” and that it would be “meddling” and “not appropriate” to tell the gardaí.
An advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse said it is “vital ” that gardaí accused in the Murphy Report are “held to account”. Executive director of the Rape Crisis Network, Fiona Neary, said the “general public and other victims of abuse won’t have confidence in the system if they see gardaí getting not following up complaints and then victimising legitimate complainants”.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has said no prosecution is to be taken against current or former gardaí who connived with the Catholic Church to protect paedophile former priest Patrick McCabe.
The Commissioner was responding to the Murphy Commission's finding that a previous commissioner had taken a personal interest in pursuing a blackmail complaint against McCabe's first known victim and that the man's phone was tapped.
In a statement tonight, the commissioner told RTÉ News that following a garda investigation into the force's handling of the McCabe case, the DPP had decided that no prosecution was to be taken against current or former gardaí.
He said it is a matter of regret to him personally that people did not receive the appropriate attention and action from gardaí to which they were entitled.
In 1977, the then Archbishop of Dublin, Dermot Ryan, was told that a 14-year-old boy had been sexually abused by McCabe at his boarding school.
It was also alleged that when the boy complained to his headmaster, a member of a religious order, he also abused the boy.
A church investigator told Archbishop Ryan the complaint was well-founded, but nothing was done.
Ten years later in 1987, the first complainant against the paedophile priest came forward again to the diocese demanding compensation from McCabe "for ruining his life".
He wanted McCabe reprimanded and to prevent him from abusing others, or otherwise the victim would sell his story to the media.
A priest at the man's former school complained the victim was blackmailing him.
An exhaustive and comprehensive garda investigation followed into the blackmailing allegation that went all the way to the then commissioner's desk.
But the Director of Public Prosecutions refused to prosecute.
Only then did gardaí begin an investigation of the victim's original complaint of sexual assault.
Protestant church leaders have historically looked ‘the other way’, when it came to dealing with the abuse and neglect children were subjected to in their institutions.
Why is this the case? Is it a lack of Christianity, or could it be they feel uncomfortable in the State of Ireland? Are they cocooned in a time-warp with the battles and ignorance of the past?
While writing an article for a national paper, the now retired Archbishop John O’Neill was very concerned Protestant denominations should not say anything that would be offensive to Catholic organisations in relation to the abuse scandals that had come to light. Yet the same archbishop permitted Dr Michael Woods, then Minister for Education, to negotiate behind closed doors with Catholic religious orders, on how to deal with the abuse which had taken place in their institutions. Unfortunately, the Protestant leaders and organisations did not lobby for survivors from their homes. The State had a duty of care to all citizens, and Protestant church leaders had an onus to make sure this responsibility was being exercised. That did not happen.
On being elected Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev Dr Michael Jackson went to great lengths to assure RTÉ Religious and Social Affairs Correspondent Joe Little, that Bethany Home would be one of his first “priorities” and survivors would be “honourably” dealt with. Sadly the archbishop’s efforts have been very diluted.
RTÉ Prime Time broadcast The Home the State Forgot in May of this year. It laid bare more of the Protestant abuse scandal, and demonstrated the wrong-doings of the State and its officials, when it came to dealing with Protestant abused children. The broadcast also proved the reason why Bethany Home was not added to the schedule of institutions on the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002, was not because it did not qualify, but because the State misused the Act, by agreeing an indemnity scheme with the Catholic institutions. Yet the indemnity should not have had anything to do with the Redress Act, it was not a lawful condition for the qualification of an institution. But due to these actions, Bethany Home has been treated differently.
We would expect little help from a Catholic government, and from a Dáil, where it would be hard to find more than three TDs who were not Catholic. But as survivors who were raised as Protestants, should we not have had the full support of all decent people, as well as our church leaders? However, out of this grotesque mess and shame, one of our main supporters and campaigners is from a Catholic background, they wish to campaign for Bethany, due to the justness of our case. The Bethany Survivors Group have achieved a rare result in Ireland in uniting all political parties in wanting justice for survivors.
In contrast, the Church of Ireland Primate of All Ireland, and Archbishop of Armagh, The Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke states that Bethany Home has been below his “radar”.
Bethany survivors wait for the Protestant leaders to gather enough courage to conduct a formal service in Mount Jerome Cemetery for the 219 unmarked graves of children who died in Bethany. If our own denominational leaders haven’t got the bravery, or the time, to do this Christian act, could they not request their Catholic brethren to do so?
Bethany Survivors Group
The Murphy Report overall assessment of Garda involvement in the McCabe case, detailed in Chapter 20, is unequivocal.
“The connivance by the Gardaí in effectively stifling one complaint and failing to investigate another, and in allowing Fr McCabe to leave the country is shocking. It is noteworthy that the Commission would not have been aware of the Garda activity in question were it not for the information contained in the Church files.”
Most of the criticism centred on Garda handling of an August 1986 abuse incident involving McCabe and a 9-year-old altar boy. They boy told his parents who reported it to gardai, who took a statement from the boy.
McCabe was called into the Garda station and was accompanied by “a friend who was a retired garda sergeant who had served in the district.”
The Murphy report found it “extraordinary that no notes were taken during the course of this interview”,while the Garda file was “missing”.
Most bizarrely, it continued, “that evening Fr McCabe went to the home of Garda Chief Superintendent Joe McGovern. Fr McCabe, then on a trip home from the US, had been staying at a house belonging to the chief superintendent since July.” It said “he [MCCABE)]made certain limited admissions to the chief superintendent who did not convey them to the investigating garda, but who did convey them and the fact of the Garda investigation to his local parish priest, Fr Curley.”
Chief superintendent McGovern told the Commission “he considered Fr McCabe’s behaviour to be a matter for the Church to deal with. This was despite his knowledge that an investigation had just commenced into an allegation of indecent assault,” as the report puts it. He said “the question of disciplining the priest was a matter for Archbishop’s House who were in the main responsible for the priest.”
A copy of the abused boy’s statement given to gardai was forwarded to Church authorities. The Murphy report said that “even though the gardaí knew that Fr McCabe intended to return to the USA, no warrant was sought for his arrest.”
Murphy noted that “between 1988 and 2003 not a single inquiry had been made by the gardaí in relation to this matter”and that “the Archdiocese’s handling of events was facilitated in significant ways by the gardaí”.
“This particular Garda investigation was marred by Church interference which was facilitated by the gardaí and which was material in allowing Fr McCabe to evade justice.”
Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin warned last night against drawing a line under a “dark period in the history of the church in Dublin” now that the final chapter of the Murphy report has been published.
The Murphy commission investigated the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations by church and State authorities in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese between 1975 and 2004.
Much of Chapter 20 of its report had been withheld pending the trial of former priest Patrick McCabe, which ended last March. On the publication yesterday of the remaining excerpts, the Archbishop revealed he was “aware of allegations against Patrick McCabe by over 30 named persons here and in the United States”.
Archbishop Martin said: “There are still those who would challenge the work of the Murphy commission. I repeat that the Murphy report represents and remains a true milestone which marks our history. What happened to children in the Church of Jesus Christ in the Archdiocese of Dublin is something that must never be forgotten . . . It is a part of the history of the archdiocese and can never be whitewashed away.”
The report is very critical of how the McCabe case was handled by three previous Archbishops of Dublin – archbishops Dermot Ryan and Kevin McNamara and Cardinal Desmond Connell. It is equally critical of the Garda’s handling of the case.
Where the church authorities were concerned, it said: “This case encapsulates everything that was wrong with the archdiocesan handling of child sexual abuse cases. The story speaks for itself. Archbishop Ryan not only knew about the complaints against Fr McCabe, he had a considerable understanding of the effects of abuse on children.”
Gardaí and successive archbishops and bishops in Dublin have been harshly criticised in a just-released chapter of the Murphy Report for conniving to stop a serial paedophile from being brought to justice.
The Commission of Investigation said “connivance in stifling a complaint and failing to investigate another” by gardaí was shocking and described an “inappropriate relationship” between gardaí and the Catholic Church.
At least 21 complaints were made against Fr Patrick McCabe up to 1995. He was repeatedly sent to treatment centres in England and Mexico. In the second he was diagnosed as a paedophile. However, he was repeatedly released back into parishes without any monitoring.
For up to 20 years, Fr McCabe repeatedly avoided any kind of supervision in numerous Dublin dioceses, as he told them he had the support of a spiritual director and psychiatrist. None of this was checked out by Church officials.
Fr McCabe’s victims included a boy who was just six years old.
He was also found to have abused at least eight children in Artane between 1979 and 1981.
According to the Murphy Commission, the McCabe chapter “encapsulated everything that was wrong about handling of child sexual abuse” in Dublin.
Archbishop Ryan was accused of protecting Fr McCabe to an extraordinary extent, even though he had understanding of the effects of abuse and knowledge of complaints.
Publication of certain material from the Murphy Report
This document includes the remaining material from the Report of The Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin (The Murphy Report) previously redacted on foot of a direction from the High Court in accordance with the provisions of section 38 of the Commission of Investigation Act, 2004.
Chapter 20, which dealt with former priest Patrick McCabe (77), was released for publication by the High Court yesterday and placed in its entirety on the Department of Justice website this afternoon. McCabe walked free from court last March after an 18-month jail term was backdated by the judge.
The Irish Times takes no responsibility for the content or availability of other websites.
Archbishop Ryan was Archbishop of Dublin between 1972 and 1984, Archbishop McNamara from 1984 to 1987, and Cardinal Connell from 1988 to 2004.
The chapter found “shocking”, Garda “connivance” having the affect of “stifling one complaint and failing to investigate another, and in allowing (then) Fr McCabe to leave the country”
McCabe was arrested in the US in August 2010 and extradited to Ireland in June 2011. Last October he was jailed for 18 months after he pleaded guilty to the indecent assault of five schoolboys.
Last March he pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to indecent assault of one boy at a Co Kildare school between January and April 1977. He also pleaded guilty to indecent assault of another boy at two locations in Dublin between January and September 1979. Both victims were 13 when molested by him.
At 62 pages Chapter 20 is the longest chapter in the Murphy report, which was published in November 2009.
The Chapter’s findings are among the most critical of church and Garda authorities made by the Murphy Commission, which investigated the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations by church and state authorities in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese between 1975 and 2004.
In Chapter 20 the Murphy Commission said it was aware of 21 complainants where McCabe was concerned.
In Dublin McCabe served at the Pro Cathedral from 1971 to 1978, in Artane from 1978 to 1981,in Clogher Rd., Crumlin from 1981 to 1983, in Santa Rosa diocese California from 1983 to 1986. His faculties as a priest were withdrawn in 1987 and he was laicised in 1988.
The Murphy report found that: “Archbishop (Dermot) Ryan not only about knew about the complaints against Fr McCabe, he had a considerable understanding of the effects of abuse on children. This is one of the few cases in which he took a close personal interest.”
Murphy found that Archbishop Ryan “protected Fr McCabe to an extraordinary extent; he ensured, as far as he could, that very few people knew about his activities; it seems that the welfare of children simply did not play any part in his decisions.”
During the tenure of Archbishop Kevin McNamara, from 1984 to 1987, it found that in May 1986 Fr McCabe returned to Ireland from the US under a cloud following “stories of unappropriate conduct” at a Californian parish.
Murphy said that: “To the knowledge of the archdiocese, Fr McCabe stayed on in Dublin for the summer of 1986. His activities appear to have been entirely unmonitored, despite the archdiocese’s knowledge that he had been declared a paedophile and despite its knowledge of many complaints against him. He moved from house to house and he had the use of a car.”
Pope Francis has toughened up the Vatican city state's laws on child sex abuse, in the latest demonstration of his determination to overhaul the Holy See after years of damaging intrigue and scandal.
But the measures were dismissed by anti-abuse campaigners as little more than administrative tinkering because they applied only to the tiny city state and would have no impact in protecting children in the rest of the world from predatory priests.
The new laws about the sexual abuse of minors came just two days after the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child demanded that the Vatican divulge documents about its treatment of abuse victims around the world and its leniency towards predatory priests.
The new laws represented "a broader definition of the category of crimes against minors, including the sale of children, child prostitution, the recruitment of children, sexual violence and sexual acts with children, and the production and possession of child pornography," the Vatican said.
Those crimes can now be punished with prison sentences of up to 12 years – a slightly heavier penalty than under the previous legal code.
The laws, applicable from September 1, will apply only to people working or living in Vatican City. They did not impress former victims of clerical sex abuse. "For the Vatican's image, this is a successful move. For children's safety, this is another setback," said David Clohessy, director of the US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests or SNAP.
"In the real world, this changes virtually nothing. It's is precisely the kind of 'feelgood' gesture that Vatican officials have long specialised in: tweaking often-ignored and ineffective internal church abuse guidelines to generate positive headlines but nothing more.
"The church hierarchy doesn't need new rules on abuse. It needs to follow long-established secular laws. Church officials, starting with Pope Francis, need to actually punish those who conceal and enable abuse, which they have ample power to do but inadequate courage to do."
Sacking a bishop who had protected one or more abusive priests "would do far more to protect kids and deter cover-ups than this small change to a rule that's likely never been, and never will be, used".
The Pope also beefed up penalties for any Vatican official caught stealing or leaking official documents, a year after then-Pope Benedict XVI's butler was arrested, convicted and jailed for taking confidential papers from his offices.
Reflecting the gravity with which the Vatican viewed the 'Vatileaks' affair, the new penalties are severe. A person who reveals or receives confidential documents can be jailed for six months to two years.
If the stolen or leaked material concerns the "fundamental interests" or security of the Holy See, they can be imprisoned for eight years.
A former priest who was on the run in Brazil for almost a decade has been jailed for 10 years for abusing 18 boys during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Peter Kennedy (74), a former member of the Kiltegan Fathers order, committed the abuse in five counties as he was moved from parish to parish.
In the early 2000s many of his victims began to come forward causing Kennedy to go to Brazil. He stayed there eight years until he was deported to the UK in 2011. From there he was returned to Ireland to face these charges.
Kennedy was a missionary in Africa before serving in several parishes in Ireland. He would use his position as a priest to gain access to the boys and molest them. In some instances he threatened them with damnation if they reported what he did and on one occasion told a boy that he [Kennedy] was an “angel of God and God didn’t mind what he did”.
Another boy was repeatedly abused when Kennedy visited the family home to pray with the child’s dying father and administer the last rites.
Kennedy, with a former address in Ballinahown, Co Westmeath, pleaded guilty to 27 counts of indecent assault in various areas of the country between 1968 and 1986.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that some of these charges are “sample counts” representing more than one instance of abuse.
After hearing the evidence, Judge Martin Nolan commented that by his count there were over 100 instances. One victim alone told gardaí he was abused about 100 times.
Imposing a 10-year sentence, Judge Nolan commented that Kennedy had “destroyed the lives of 18 boys for no other reasons than to satiate his own perverted needs. He left a path of destruction behind him and one could not be anything but filled with sadness on hearing the victim impact reports,” the judge said.
Judge Nolan said Kennedy betrayed his oath as a priest, his order, the community and “most terribly” the children he abused. He said the former priest knew the children would likely not be believed if they told their parents, or that their parents would be too afraid to go to the Garda.
The judge remarked after getting away with it the first time, Kennedy realised he was unlikely to get caught and became “very industrious about satisfying these needs”.
The sentence was backdated to December 2011 when Kennedy first went into custody in Ireland.
During a lengthy sentence hearing, prosecuting counsel Mary Rose Gearty SC, detailed a pattern of offending, which often involved the accused calling over to families’ homes and finding opportunities to be alone with the boys.
The victims were mostly aged between 10 and 15, however, one complainant told gardaí he was eight when it started and another was a young adult when Kennedy attempted to molest him.
Kennedy stopped being an active priest in 1986 when some of these offences began to come to light.
He then moved to London where he worked in various jobs before he was officially defrocked by the church in 2003.
Victim impact reports were read out in court on behalf of eight of the victims, all of whom are now middle-aged or older. Several detailed depression, suicide attempts and substance abuse.
“He was ordained to do the work of God but instead he did the work of the devil,” one man wrote after telling the court that he has never hugged his children because of his issues with intimacy.
Another man requested a lengthy jail term for Kennedy and said any apology in court would be worthless.
I was interested to read your article regarding the Bethany Home and Derek Leinster last month.
I endured a four-year stay as an infant in St Patrick’s Mother and Baby home, on the Navan Rd in Dublin.
There is some evidence that some women were despatched to Magdalene laundries, which may have included my birth mother before she went to England two years after my birth.
With great respect to all the Magdalene laundry women and my birth mum, who may have been there after my birth, I will continue to make claim for myself as an infant from 1958 to 1962 in St Patrick’s.
I have my medical records and other evidence, such as when I got my BCG vaccine injection on 18/12/1958.
Four days later I was anointed and confirmed as being in danger of death. There were also continuous hospital transfers to St Kevin’s hospital (now St James’) over my four-year infant residence, and I showed signs of early developmental struggles and malnutrition.
Later in life I had to cope with alcohol addiction and suicidal ideation but have since had treatment in the excellent old Rutland Centre in Clondalkin (when I was 23) and thankfully I haven’t drank alcohol or taken drugs since, but like the Bethany survivors, I am left bewildered with the primal wounds of my early life.
Coming from such homes, we should be acknowledged by the state and given redress/compensation for the emotional scars that may never heal.
Money was moved off archdiocesan books into cemetery trust fund to prevent it being paid as compensation
Cardinal Timothy Dolan: The ‘New York Times’ editorial says – “Newly released court documents make it clear that he sought and received fast approval from the Vatican to transfer the money just as the Wisconsin Supreme Court was about to open the door to damage suits by victims raped and abused as children by Roman Catholic clergy.” Photograph: Getty Images
A New York Times editorial has described as “shocking” revelations that the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, while archbishop of Milwaukee, moved $57 million off the archdiocesan books into a cemetery trust fund six years ago to prevent the money being paid to victims of clerical child sex abuse.
Cardinal Dolan is also president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The editorial said “newly released court documents make it clear that he sought and received fast approval from the Vatican to transfer the money just as the Wisconsin Supreme Court was about to open the door to damage suits by victims raped and abused as children by Roman Catholic clergy.”
It noted also that “the documents showed how the Vatican slowly took years to allow dioceses to defrock embarrassing priests. Yet the same bureaucracy approved Cardinal Dolan’s $57 million transfer just days after the Wisconsin court allowed victims’ damage suits.”
Files released last Monday by the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee revealed that in 2007 Cardinal Timothy Dolan requested permission from the Vatican to move almost $57 million into a cemetery trust fund to protect the assets from victims of sexual abuse who were demanding compensation.
As the editorial put it “Cardinal Dolan wrote rather cynically in his 2007 letter to the Vatican . . . ‘I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability’.” The Vatican approved his request within five weeks.
Cardinal Dolan was archbishop there from 2002 to 2009 and has repeatedly denied seeking to protect church funds while in Milwaukee. Last Monday he repeated that these were “old and discredited attacks” and “malarkey”.
The release of the documents was announced last April by the current Archbishop of Milwaukee Jerome Listecki the day before a judicial hearing was to take place into requests by lawyers for abuse victims that the archdiocese be compelled to release them.
As many as 575 men and women have made claims against the archdiocese. It filed for bankruptcy in 2011, saying it was the best way to compensate the victims and resolve the controversy.
US law forbids a debtor from transferring funds in a way that protects one class of creditors over another.
The orders who ran the Magdalene laundries need to offer redress to the survivors, writes Anne Ferris.
IN APRIL 1955, a Scottish writer researching a book about Ireland talked his way into the Magdalene laundry in Galway. First he had to obtain the permission of the Bishop of Galway, Dr Michael John Browne, the same man who a decade later would refer to the RTÉ broadcaster Gay Byrne as “a purveyor of filth” for the sin of discussing the colour of a lady’s nightgown on The Late Late Show.
True to form, Bishop Browne warned the Scotsman, “if you write anything wrong it will come back on you”, adding as a condition of entry to the laundry that anything intended to be published about the visit would have to be approved in advance by the Mother Superior of the Sisters of Mercy.
The Scotsman, Dr Halliday Sutherland agreed to abide by the bishop’s stipulation and was granted rare access to a Magdalene laundry. His subsequent account is worked into a single chapter in his 1956 book Irish Journey. To what extent it was censored by the Mother Superior we will never know.
The day before he visited the laundry in Galway, Dr Sutherland visited the mother and baby home in Tuam. He noted that the accepted practice was that unmarried mothers in the Tuam home “agreed” to provide a year of unpaid domestic service to the nuns, and that in addition to this servitude, the home received State support, via Galway County Council, to the tune of £1 per child or mother per week.
Sutherland was told that any child not adopted by the age of seven was sent to work in one of Ireland’s notorious industrial schools, no doubt a factor in the decisions of the thousands of Irish women who “agreed” to the export of their children for Catholic adoptions abroad. Women who were re-admitted to the Tuam mother and baby home on a second occasion were automatically sent to work at the Magdalene home laundry in Galway. By directing the women to the laundry and the children to the industrial schools, the State saved money and the Church made money.
Today, thanks to the Magdalene survivors groups, we know what the women suffered and that the mother and baby homes were only one of many routes by which the Church and State incarcerated woman in the Magdalene laundries and similarly operated religious institutions. This is why in February of this year, after successive governments failed to engage meaningfully with the Magdalene survivors, the current Taoiseach made a formal apology to the women on behalf of the State.
This week the Government announced a redress fund for the survivors. It remains to be seen if the amount and means of payment will prove sufficient to compensate for the State’s role in this tragedy. No sum of money can take away the pain that these women have endured. In my capacity of vice chair of the Oireachtas Committee for Justice, Defence and Equality, I personally undertake to closely monitor the progress of any necessary legislation designed to effect the speedy and appropriate distribution of redress to the women concerned. But there can be absolutely no ambiguity regarding the financial contribution to be made by the Church. There is now no hiding from the enormity of what these women suffered in the so-called “care” of these religious institutions.
On the day in 1955 that Dr Halliday Sutherland visited the Galway Magdalene, he met some of its 73 unpaid manual workers who lifted and toiled in the heat and wet doing laundry work for businesses, institutions and homes in Galway. One woman told him she had been there for 25 years. He asked another if she liked the laundry. She answered “yes” but according to Sutherland she did not look him in the eye. Later, he said, a nun told him that she was a bold girl.
“On Sundays they’re allowed to use cosmetics”, the sister-in-charge told him.
“[But] are the girls free?” asked Sutherland.
“Yes” said the nun.
“Can a girl leave whenever she chooses?
“No, we are not as lenient as all that,” said the Mother Superior.
Anne Ferris is the Labour Party TD for Wicklow and East Carlow.