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January 2014 Archives

Government had warned victims: drop cases or be chased for costs



Louise OÕKeeffe pictured in Cork with her legal representative Ernest Cantillon as she won her landmark case against the Irish State, ruling that the Irish state failed to meet its obligation to protect Ms OÕKeeffe from the sexual abuse she suffered while a pupil in an Irish national school.Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision/>
Louise O'Keeffe

THE Government told victims abused in primary schools to drop their court actions against the State, or face the prospect of being pursued for legal costs if they lost.

insisting that it was the school boards of management involved which were responsible.

Weeks after Ms O'Keeffe lost her Supreme Court case in December 2008, victims were told that the State Claims Agency (SCA) would seek full legal costs from them if they did not discontinue their cases, the Irish Independent can disclose.

The revelation came after TaoiseachEnda Kenny apologised to Ms O'Keeffe, saying her experience was indicative of a long litany of child abuse cases that had scarred memories.

Mr Kenny said: "I would like to say to Louise O'Keeffe that I apologise for what happened to her in the location where she was and for the horrendous experiences that she had to go through."

The Supreme Court had ruled the Department of Education and the State were not vicariously liable for the abuse perpetrated by lay teacher Leo Hickey as there was no employer/ employee relationship between the abuser and the State.

But earlier this week, Ms O'Keeffe secured a landmark victory before theEuropean Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) when the Strasbourg-based court ruled that the State was liable for the sexual abuse she suffered while a national school pupil.


The ECtHR found that there was an inherent obligation of a government to protect children from ill-treatment, especially in a primary education context, and had failed to put in place any mechanism of effective state control against the risks of such abuse occurring.

The Irish Independent has learned that in the weeks following the 2008 Supreme Court ruling, the Chief State Solicitors Office (CSSO) wrote to victims with a proposal that the State would not pursue them for legal costs if they discontinued their cases within a two-month deadline.

The CSSO, acting on instructions of the SCA, which manages personal injuries actions against the State, also insisted that the victims would not seek the legal costs incurred in bringing the cases.

"We wish to specifically state, at this time, that this offer to go back-to-back on costs stands strictly subject to the filing of a Notice of Discontinuance by 31st March 2009. In the event that a Notice of Discontinuance is not served by that date then our instructions are to seek costs in the event that your client's claim is not successful against our clients."

Irish Independent

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Why do I read these?


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A network of 'homes', where children's happiness was relentlessly destroyed


A network of 'homes', where children's  happiness was relentlessly destroyedOpinion: It was said the boys would find ease in heaven as they had certainly done their purgatory on Earth

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Survivors of child sexual abuse to seek compensation after ECHR judgment


Wednesday 29 January 2014 23.42
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Tim O'Rourke (right) said he wants official attitudes to change
Tim O'Rourke (right) said he wants official attitudes to change

Survivors of sexual abuse carried out on school premises say they should be entitled to seek compensation in court after they were forced to drop legal action against the State.

It follows a European Court of Human Rights judgment that found the State was liable for the sexual abuse suffered by Louise O'Keeffe while a national school pupil.

Abuse survivor Tim O'Rourke, whose case against the State is pending, said the final uncertainty is gone after the ruling in Strasbourg.

Mr O'Rourke said he did not just want laws to change, but he wants official attitudes to change too.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said the Cabinet will discuss the issue at its meeting next week.

The court ruled yesterday that the State had failed to meet its obligation to protect Ms O'Keeffe.

She was nine years old when she was abused by teacher Leo Hickey at Dunderrow National School in Co Cork in 1973.

Decades later, Hickey was charged with 386 criminal offences involving 21 former Dunderrow pupils.

He was sentenced to three years in prison in 1998, after pleading guilty to 21 sample charges.

Ms O'Keeffe subsequently took legal action against the Department of Education, arguing that the State had failed to put in place appropriate protection measures to prevent and stop systematic sexual abuse at her school.

However, the High Court dismissed her claim that the State was liable.

The Supreme Court subsequently upheld that ruling, finding that while the State funded the education system, the management role of the Catholic Church was such that the State could not be held vicariously liable for the criminal acts of the teacher.

However, the ECHR found that the State was liable.

Speaking this afternoon, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said Ms O'Keeffe had conducted herself with extraordinary dignity and courage.

She said she was glad that Ms O'Keeffe has had the outcome that she has had.

Ms Burton said Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn was currently studying the judgment in detail.

She said she wanted to wait to hear what Mr Quinn and Taoiseach Enda Kenny have to say about the judgment before commenting further.

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Louise O'Keeffe: 40-year fight for justice could cost State millions


The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in favour of a woman sexually abused in primary school could cost the State millions in follow-on claims.

It could also have major implications for the country’s education system. 

Louise O’Keeffe’s 40-year battle for justice ended in triumph when the court [url={%22languageisocode%22:[%22ENG%22],%22documentcollectionid2%22:[%22JUDGMENTS%22],%22itemid%22:[%22001-140235%22]}]ruled[/url] in her favour and granted her compensation of more than €100,000 for abuse she suffered as a child at Dunderrow National School, Kinsale, Co Cork. 

Ms O’Keeffe, a mother of two, said the judgment was a “win for the children of Ireland”. 

There are already 135 cases pending against the State by other victims of sexual abuse and many more may follow as a result of yesterday’s ruling in Strasbourg. 

In a statement, a spokes-woman for the Department of Education acknowledged that the ruling was binding on the State. “It will now be assessed for its implications and the necessary steps to implement the decision of the ECHR will be pursued.” 

The court overruled the 2008 decision of the Supreme Court which found the State bore no responsibility for the activities of Ms O’Keefe’s abuser, lay principal Leo Hickey. 

Ernest Cantillon, Ms O’Keeffe’s solicitor, said the State should now “do the right thing” and open discussions with other survivors of sexual abuse. 

“Other victims were warned of the ramifications of pursuing their cases in the light of the Supreme Court judgment. They wrote to all of these victims threatening them with an order for costs if they didn’t withdraw their cases. They should do the right thing now… and invite them to meet for negotiations.” 

In the judgment delivered at a public hearing, the court ruled that it was an inherent obligation on a Government to use special safeguards to protect children from ill-treatment, especially in primary education when they are under the exclusive control of school authorities. 

A State could not absolve itself from that obligation by delegating to private bodies or individuals. 

State school inspectors did not perform that function as they were not obliged to monitor a teacher’s treatment of children, only the quality of instruction and academic performance. 

“This judgment has profound implications for the State education system,” said Des Hogan, acting chief executive of the Irish Human Rights Commission. 

“The manner in which the human rights of children and parents are reflected and vindicated by the State will now need careful review given the court’s findings on the absence of effective civil remedies under article 13 of the convention.”

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved


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Bishops asks court to stop damages over sex abuse by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth



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Brendan Smyth/>
Brendan Smyth

A Stg £25,000 payment made to a man who sued in the Northern Irelandcourts over being sexually abused as a child over years by paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth was a "full and final settlement" and he cannot bring a fresh case here against a Catholic Bishop, the High Court has been told.

Mr Cafolla insists he is entitled to sue on grounds including that a previous Bishop of Kilmore, Dr Francis McKiernan, was allegedly made aware in 1975 that Brendan Smyth was abusing children, including Mr Cafolla, but failed to report that to the Gardai or Mr Cafolla's parents.The Bishop of Kilmore, Dr Leo O'Reilly, has asked the court to stop Mario Cafolla suing him, in his representative capacity as Bishop of Kilmore, over alleged failures by the diocese and Catholic Church to stop Smyth's abusive behaviour.

It is alleged that a young boy had, at meetings in 1975 with priests of the Catholic Church, told the then FrSean Brady -  now Cardinal Sean Brady - that Smyth was abusing children.

That boy was asked to sign a document stating he would not tell anyone else about the abuse except authorised priests, Liam Reidy SC, for Mr Cafolla, said. While that boy had reported that Mario Cafolla was among the children being abused by Smyth, and had provided Mr Cafolla's name and address, no steps were taken to either inform the Garda or his parents, counsel added.

Bishop McKiernan had directed the Norbertine Order to ensure Smyth remained in their abbey but that directive was not obeyed and Smyth continued to abuse children, counsel said.

Mr Cafolla's case here involves a different set of facts, including the failure "to have the ordinary decency" to report Smyth's abusive behaviour to the gardai and Mr Cafolla'a parents and thus avoid the continuing suffering or Mr Cafolla and his sister, who was also abused by Smyth, counsel said.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, today began earing an application on behalf of Bishop O'Reilly to halt the action being taken against him by Mario Cafolla. The judge will later deal with similar applications by the Bishop in proceedings brought by Marie Cafolla, sister of Mario, and by Ciara Fusco, arising from the abuse by the late Fr Smyth.

Mr Cafolla, with an address in Donegal, has sued Dr O'Reilly, in his representative capacity, and Cardinal Sean Brady, in his personal capacity over his role as part-time secretary to Bishop McKiernan in 1975 during the investigation of complaints about Smyth.

 He alleges there was failure by various representatives of the Catholic Church over years to monitor and supervise Brendan Smyth and a failure to stop his abuse or report it to the Garda.

Cardinal Brady has not applied to have the cases struck out against him and the application before the court relates only to Bishop O'Reilly.

Rossa Fanning, for Dr O'Reilly, said his argument was that, despite the "very sympathetic" facts of the case and his client's sympathy for Mr Cafolla, it would be an "appalling spectre" for litigation generally if the court did not grant his application.  The dicoese of Kilmore has very limited resources and is facing other claims, he said.

His arguement was that the Northern Ireland settlement was a full and final settlement of all claims by Mr Cafolla arising from his abuse by Smyth, including claims against the dicoese of Kilmore and the Catholic Church, counsel said.  The NI case had been taken against Smyth himself, the Norbertine order and then Cardinal Cahal Daly as representative of the Catholic Church, counsel said.

Mr Reidy argued Mr Cafolla was entitled to sue on grounds including that, when he had settled the NI case in 1998, it had been concealed from him that the then Bishop of Kilmore was aware in 1975 of Smyth's abuse. Mr Cafolla had not sued the Bishop of Kilmore in the Northern Ireland case but would have done so had he been aware of all the facts, counsel said.

Mr Cafolla claims the 1998 settlement indicated no intention to discharge the defendants from the claims in the current proceedings.  He had received legal advice at the time he had no case against Cardinal Brady's predecessor, Cardinal Cathal Daly and the settlement of the Northern Irish cases did not represent the full monetary value of his injuries, it is alleged.

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State failed to protect pupil from abuse

Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 01:09

Irish Times Letters

Sir, – Louise O’Keefe’s victory in the European Court of Human Rights is a victory for all institutionally abused children (Breaking News, January 28th). Her bravery and determination deserves the highest commendation.

The judgment drives a coach and horses through the Irish Government’s claim that it is not responsible for abuse in education, welfare and health bodies it regulated in law and/or paid for through the public purse. The excuse that abuse was the responsibility of the church bodies and organisations to whom the State handed over children is shown to be nonsense. For some years successive governments have used exposure of the abuse carried out by clergy and other individuals as a means of escaping responsibility. It was the State that put a sectarian system in place, behind which abuse occurred.

The judgment will give new hope to all of those abandoned by the State in various institutions. This includes misnamed mother and baby homes where so-called “illegitimate” children suffered appalling abuse, including death, under a regulatory regime that knew of but ignored their plight.

The former child residents of the Rathgar-based Bethany Home will welcome this judgment. Hundreds died in the 1930s and 1940s because the then deputy chief medical adviser explained, “illegitimate children are delicate and marasmic [starving]”. He explained also the State’s priority, that Roman Catholic and Protestant children be segregated. Properly functioning sectarian regulation would make welfare concerns and bad publicity go away, he contended. Go away they did while children suffered and died in silence.

Now those concerns are back where they should be, at the door of the Government. The Bethany residents, whose case for restitution was spurned by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in 2013, and others are back knocking on that door. – Yours, etc,


Faculty Head,

Journalism & Media Griffith


South Circular Road,

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Ruling of European Court of Human Rights an indictment of our institutions


Opinion: There was copious evidence available that the sexual abuse of children was widespread in Ireland

 Louise O'Keeffe: vindicated yesterday at the European Court of Human Rights. Photograph: Garrett White / Collins Court

Louise O’Keeffe: vindicated yesterday at the European Court of Human Rights. Photograph: Garrett White / Collins Court

The Republic has again been shamed in the international court of decent opinion and two of our primary institutions, the Government and Supreme Court, have been chastened.

This is not just a reflection on Ireland of 40 or 50 years ago, it is a commentary on Ireland as of now. It is this Government and this Supreme Court that has exacerbated the shame.

In a case taken to the European Court of Human Rights by a sexually abused victim, Louise O’Keeffe, this Government claimed the State had no responsibility for her sexual abuse by primary school teacher Leo Hickey when she was aged nine and attending the national school at Dunderow, Co Cork. This man had abused children at that school on at least 400 occasions. Following complaints to the local parish priest, he resigned voluntarily and was then hired as a teacher elsewhere.

Legal representatives for the State argued it had no knowledge of the abuse for it was the Catholic Church, via its local bishop, that owned and controlled the school, that no complaint had been made to the gardaí or any other State official. This denial of liability was made even though the State funded the school, paid the abuser’s salary and authorised his appointment. Moreover, officials regularly inspected the school. But it was argued the State had no liability for the abuse suffered by O’Keeffe, that it had no duty of care towards her.

Extensive evidence
That argument had won out in the High Court and Supreme Court. Four of five judges on the Supreme Court

– John MurraySusan DenhamAdrian Hardiman and Niall Fennelly, the fifth, Hugh Geoghegan, dissented – accepted that the State had no liability.

There was copious evidence available that the sexual abuse of children had been widespread. The Carrigan report of the 1930s had noted evidence from the Garda commissioner, based on data presented to him from 800 stations around the country, that there was “an alarming amount of sexual crime, increasing yearly, a feature of which was the large number of cases of criminal interference with girls and children from 16 years downwards, including many cases of children under 10 years”. He suggested that less than 15 per cent of sexual crime was prosecuted for various reasons, including the reluctance of parents to pursue matters.

On advice from the Department of Justice at the time, neither the evidence heard by the Carrigan Committee nor the report itself was published. This was done on grounds that the conclusion to be drawn from the report was that ordinary feelings of decency and the influence of religion had failed in Ireland and that the only remedy was Garda action. Though the report was not published the State had knowledge of the prevalence of child sexual abuse.


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Child abuse inquiry:


 Church-run 'hell hole' homes were 'like Nazi concentration camps'


The opening session of the independent Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry in Banbridge, Co Down/>
The independent Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry in Banbridge, Co Down

Church-run "hell hole" children's homes in Ireland were like Nazi concentration camps, a former resident claimed.

Irish Republic owned by the Christian Brothers.

"Essentially a Gulag, a child's prison," he claimed.

He added: "The comparison was two hell holes. Which is better? It is difficult to describe when things are bad, you are on a race to the bottom. Salthill (Galway) was Auschwitz, Termonbacca was Treblinka."

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European Court of Human Rights finds State liable for sexual abuse


Tuesday 28 January 2014 10.27

Louise O'Keeffe took the case to Europe
Louise O'Keeffe took the case to Europe

The European Court of Human Rights has found in favour of Cork woman Louise O'Keeffe, who was seeking to have the State held liable for sex abuse she suffered while a pupil of a primary school.

Ms O'Keeffe took the case to Europe after the Supreme Court ruled the State could not be held responsible because the national school in question had been run by an independent board at the time.

Reacting to the judgment, Ms O'Keeffe said it was a victory for all children.

She won by 11 judges to six. 

Ms O'Keeffe was nine years old when she was abused by teacher Leo Hickey at Dunderrow National School in Co Cork in 1973.

Decades later, Hickey was charged with 386 criminal offences involving 21 former Dunderrow pupils.

He was sentenced to three years in prison in 1998, after pleading guilty to 21 sample charges.

Ms O'Keeffe subsequently took legal action against the Department of Education, arguing that the State had failed to put in place appropriate protection measures to prevent and stop systematic sexual abuse at her school.

However, the High Court dismissed her claim that the State was liable.

The Supreme Court subsequently upheld that ruling, finding that while the State funded the education system, the management role of the Catholic Church was such that the State could not be held vicariously liable for the criminal acts of the teacher.

The European Court of Human Rights was Ms O'Keeffe's final legal opportunity to have the Irish State held liable for the sexual abuse she suffered.

The ruling could have significant implications for other victims of abuse in Irish schools.

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Inquiry to be told of maltreatment, deprivation and children made to eat own vomit


Senior counsel says complaints also refer to sexual abuse, bullying and public humiliation

Young people at Sisters of Nazareth properties in Derry were known by their numbers rather than names and many allegedly subjected to humiliation, threats and physical abuse, counsel to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Christine Smith QC said

Young people at Sisters of Nazareth properties in Derry were known by their numbers rather than names and many allegedly subjected to humiliation, threats and physical abuse, counsel to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Christine Smith QC said

Tue, Jan 28, 2014, 01:00

Those who wet their beds were forced to put soiled sheets on their heads by members of a harsh regime which was devoid of love, the largest inquiry of its kind in Britain or Northern Ireland into child abuse at residential homes was told.

Young people at Sisters of Nazareth properties in Derry were known by their numbers rather than names and many allegedly subjected to humiliation, threats and physical abuse, counsel to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Christine Smith QC said.

Ms Smith, senior counsel to the inquiry said complaints received by the inquiry relate to “sexual abuse by peers, older children, ex-residents, visiting priests or employees of the congregation and, in at least one instance, by a nun”.

There will also be reference “to physical assaults by sisters and civilian workers, including assaults with implements . . . such as straps, sticks, a hair brush or a kettle flex,” she said.

Other allegations related to “bathing in Jeyes Fluid, bullying by older children, denigration of a child’s family, the separation of siblings and not informing children that they had siblings often residing with them in the home.”

Ms Smith also cited “public humiliation of children who wet the bed by, for example, calling them names and making them stand with wet sheets over their heads and being beaten for bed wetting”.

Some children alleged they suffered “excessive and inappropriate physical labour such as farm labouring, polishing floors, working in the laundry – all at the expense of recreation or play activities”.

The inquiry heard children had complained “of being hungry and of poor-quality food”.

“There are complaints of forced feeding,” she added. “Some claimed that when this was done they were ill and were made to eat their own vomit.”

The Sisters of Nazareth also ran an orphanage at Fahan, a few miles away in Co Donegal in the Republic, and children were sometimes transferred across the Border.

Ms Smith said in one case a child born in the Republic was sent to Derry and later moved to Australia under a migrant scheme.

Earlier, chairman Sir Anthony Hart heard Ms Smith allege that co-operation by the Order of the Sisters of Nazareth and the provision of requested documents had “not been as complete or as rapid as had been hoped. This is despite the fact that the order was asked to co-operate voluntarily and produce documents as long ago as November 20th, 2012.”

Senior counsel for the order, Turlough Montague, apologised to the chairman over the response to demands for documentation. He cited problems with acquiring the papers, which are kept in Belfast, Dublin and Hammersmith in London.

Ms Smith said the inquiry acknowledged the volume and nature of the information presented a challenging task and understood that it was not stored in a single well-ordered archive. A considerable amount was subsequently supplied to the inquiry.

The first witnesses to give oral evidence to the inquiry will be heard today.

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State could face hundreds of abuse cases if victim wins European appeal



A European court ruling in Strasbourg this morning could pave the way for hundreds of cases against the Government for abuse of children in schools.

Louise O’Keeffe’s case was heard in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) last March and followed the rejection by the High Court and Supreme Court of her claim for damages against the State. She had said it was liable for the sexual abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of her primary school principal in the early 1970s. 

If the ECHR finds in her favour, it could lead to a raft of cases proceeding against the Department of Education for historic abuse cases in ordinary schools, as opposed to the residential institutions where children were placed in care by the State. The department has picked up most of the cost of compensating them through the Residential Institutions Redress Board. 

The High Court previously awarded damages of more than €300,000 to Ms O’Keeffe against Leo Hickey, who was sentenced to three years in jail in 1998 after pleading guilty to 21 sample charges in relation to the abuse of her and other pupils at Dunderrow National School near Kinsale, Co Cork. However, the court found that while Mr Hickey was liable for damages, the State was not vicariously liable. This was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008. 

The outcome prompted the case being taken to Europe, with papers lodged in 2009 and a full hearing taking place 10 months ago. The case was taken on the grounds of human rights obligations of the State, including the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment, right to respect for private life, and right to an effective remedy.

The case was made, as it had been in the Irish courts, that there was an employer-employee relationship between the department and Hickey. Ms O’Keeffe’s legal team said the State failed to provide a proper mechanism for parents to complain to authorities other than school management, and that it discriminated against her by trying to avoid responsibility despite accepting responsibility to compensate children abused in residential institutions. 

After successfully defending the case at the High Court, the State was awarded its costs, estimated at €500,000. When the appeal by Ms O’Keeffe failed, the State also sought its costs, but the Supreme Court did not make an award against her — which could otherwise have left her with a bill of around €750,000. That court said the important legal question that had been decided made it a test case for hundreds of others awaiting the outcome.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved


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State urged to open 60,000 adoption files after success of Philomena



A campaign aimed at shaming the Irish State into opening an estimated 60,000 adoption files is gathering pace on the back of Oscar-nominated film Philomena.

The film, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, recounts the true story of Philomena Lee’s search for the son she was forced to put up for adoption through the Seán Ross Abbey mother and baby home in 1952 when she was aged 19. 

Adopted people have no right to their adoption records, birth certificate, or medical records. 

Information and tracing legislation for adopted people and natural parents has been promised as a priority by every Government since 1997. 

Frances Fitzgerald, the children’s minister, had promised legislation would be brought forth by the end of 2012. That was put back until this year. 

The Adoption Authority has consistently refused to inspect all files held by accredited adoption agencies, despite evidence that some knowingly arranged illegal adoptions. 

Speaking in November, Ms Fitzgerald confirmed that no audit of adoption records was planned. As a result there are no accurate figures as to the number of adoptions which have taken place in Ireland or the extent of illegal adoptions. 

Last month, she also claimed every adoption the State has been involved in since 1952 has been in line with adoption legislation. 

Speaking at the launch of the Philomena Project, which will assist adopted people and natural parents to trace their relatives and lobby the State to grant access to adoption records, Ms Lee said her experience was similar to many Irish women who were forced into giving their children up for adoption. 

“They told Anthony I had left him at two weeks old, that I had abandoned him. I reared him to three- and-a-half years, he was a lovely little boy. But I never got any answers to anything. 

“I never knew anything about him at all. It was very sad to find out he had passed away, but at last I had found him,” she said. 

Co-founder of Adoption Rights Alliance, Susan Lohan, said the issue of forced and illegal adoptions was on a par with the Magdalene Laundries. 

“Philomena has acted as a touchstone now to give this more publicity. We think the vast, vast majority of children were taken without their mother’s consent and we need to talk about forced adoption. This is about people’s own identity. The burden of shame has to be transferred away from the women,” she said.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved


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Man gets €315,000 over abuse by Marist Brother


Case involved ‘recovered memory’ of sexual abuse dating from 1969

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill said he

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill said he “entirely rejected” the denials by former Marist Brother Christopher Cosgrove, with an address at Claremorris, Co Mayo, of having abused the man, now in his 50s, at the school between 1969 and 1972.

A man has been awarded €315,000 damages at the High Court over being “systematically” sexually abused by a former Marist Brother over three years while he was a pupil at St John’s National School in Sligo.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill said he “entirely rejected” the denials by former Marist Brother Christopher Cosgrove, with an address at Claremorris, Co Mayo, of having abused the man, now in his 50s, at the school between 1969 and 1972.

The judge also ruled the Marist Order was vicariously liable for the acts of Cosgrove and that the then school manager, the late Canon Collins had, in his capacity as manager, a 10 per cent liability.

Because Canon Collins had not been sued, and could not now be sued due to legal time limits, the judge said he must reduce the €350,000 total damages to reflect that 10 per cent liability, with the effect the plaintiff would get €315,000.

‘Recovered memory’
The case involved “recovered memory” of sexual abuse and the judge accepted the man had given a careful, reflective and truthful account of his rediscovery of memory of the abuse between 1999 and 2010.

That conclusion was easily arrived at given the “unusual, if not extraordinary”, amount of evidence from four men, former classmates of the man, corroborating the entire content of the man’s recovered memories.

One of those men had described reaching “a point of unbearable revulsion” after seeing the plaintiff being abused by the brother, the judge noted.

There could be no doubt the content of the plaintiff’s recovered memory was “accurate” and “comprehensive”, but the fact the memories of the abuse were so totally suppressed for some 30 years “said much about its impact” on him.

On the basis of all the evidence, the judge found the plaintiff, as a result of the abuse, suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder characterised initially by “extreme avoidance”. He had no settled career and no settled home life and the abuse had “greatly impaired” his life.

Earlier, the judge noted the plaintiff had no memory of the abuse when initially contacted by gardaí in 1999 about investigations into issues raised by other pupils of Cosgrove’s.

The plaintiff later spontaneously recalled, without any therapeutic or other process, memories he had suppressed for decades and that recall helped him address other difficulties, the judge found.

The plaintiff had alleged the abuse occurred in the classroom and when Cosgrove was teaching him to play drums for the school band.

The judge found the evidence of the plaintiff and the other four men was “truthful and reliable” and he described Cosgrove’s claim that their evidence was part of a conspiracy to get damages as “utterly lacking in credibility”.

On the issue of the school manager’s liability, the judge found Canon Collins probably had no role in the day-to-day management of the school as Cosgrove’s teaching activities were supervised by his congregation.

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The Irish Charity Myth, Child Abuse and Human Rights: Contextualising the Ryan Report into Care Institutions



  1. Katharina Swirak

+Author Affiliations

  1. Fred Powell is Professor of Social Policy, Dean of Social Science and Head of the School of Applied Social Studies at University College Cork. His primary research and teaching interests are in civil society, citizenship and social inclusion, history of social policy, and youth policy. Dr Martin Geoghegan has lectured in the School of Applied Social Studies since 2000. His primary research and teaching interests are in civil society, social movements, social partnership, governance and youth policy. Dr Margaret Scanlon is a Research Officer working on the youth policy project Civil Society, Youth and Youth Policy in Modern Ireland in the School of Applied Social Studies. Her research interests include informal learning, social movements, youth policy, children, youth and media. Katharina Swirak is a Research Officer on the project Civil Society, Youth and Youth Policy in Modern Ireland. She is also a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Applied Social Studies. Her current research interests focus on comparative youth sociology, young people and civic spaces and social policy innovation for and by young people from a comparative perspective.
  1. *Correspondence to Professor Fred Powell, School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork, Ireland. E-mail:
  • Accepted November 2011.


The publication of the Ryan Report during 2009 was a seminal event in the vindication of the human rights of survivors of child abuse in Irish reformatory and industrial schools and public truth-telling. There were seventy-one industrial schools and ten reformatories established in Ireland during the second half of the nineteenth century. Most of the reformatories soon closed because there were not enough children to put in them. The Ryan Report was 2,600 pages in length and composed of five volumes. It contains the testimony of over 1,500 witnesses. However, in terms of truth-telling, it is a flawed document because the alleged perpetrators of abuse (living and dead) have been given anonymity following legal action. Furthermore, the original Chair of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, Justice Mary Laffoy, had resigned in 2003, because of an alleged lack of official co-operation, notably on the part of the Department of Education ( Arnold, 2009, pp. 98–109). She was replaced by Justice Sean Ryan, who negotiated a compromise that enabled the survivors' evidence to be heard, while the clergy remained under the protective cloak of anonymity. The Ryan Report reveals that child abuse was endemic in the industrial and reformatory school system in Ireland. Its shocking revelations have been reported around the world, exposing the failure of Ireland's human rights record in relation to children to critical international scrutiny. The crimes against children described in the Ryan Report are on a systemic scale and involve a degree of cruelty that is difficult to comprehend in a developed Western society. The purpose of this article is to analyse the Ryan Report into child abuse in Irish care institutions. It begins by providing the context and background to the Ryan Report, with particular reference to contested interpretations of causality and the key role played by civil society groups. The article then moves on to consider in detail the findings of the Ryan Report. Finally, there is the disputed question of responsibility between the Church, state and the ISPCC. The role of civil society and the fact that child poverty played a decisive role in the creation and maintenance of what Smith (2007) calls ‘the architecture of containment’ that defined the reformatory and industrial school system will also be discussed.

Key words

  • Child welfare
  • child abuse
  • human rights
  • care homes

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Ex-nun rejects €75k award for being wrongfully convicted of raping girl



The High Court has heard Nora Wall, the former nun wrongly convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl, has turned down an offer of €75,000 by way of compensation.

The 65-year-old is said to have rejected the offer as insufficient and is now seeking aggravated damages against the State over the Director of Public Prosecution's decision to bring the case to trial.

Nora Wall’s conviction was declared a miscarriage of justice in 2005 after an alleged eye witness to the rape later admitted that she had fabricated her testimony.

The court has heard the former nun, who served four days in prison, has rejected a €75,000 offer of compensation and is seeking punitive damages against the State for the DPP’s decision to prosecute her.

As part of her claim she wants the court to order the release of documents revealing any assessments made by the DPP about the credibility of the tainted witness and the alleged victim.

Her lawyers say it ought to have been evident at the time that the woman who made the rape complaint had connived with this witness to secure false corroboration.

The State is opposing the discovery of documents - they also claim that in seeking punitive damages Nora Wall is going beyond the scope of the miscarriage of justice findings.


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Vatican defrocked 400 priests for molesting children


Nearly 400 priests were defrocked by the Vatican over just two years for molesting children, according to a leaked document.

The Vatican has defended the Pope over charges that he failed to act against a priest accused of abusing 200 deaf boys
The Vatican has defended the Pope over charges that he failed to act against allegations of sex abuse Photo: REUTERS

The statistics for 2011 and 2012 show a dramatic increase over the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided details on the number of priests who have been defrocked. Prior to that, it had only publicly revealed the number of alleged cases of sexual abuse it had received and the number of trials it had authorised

The document was obtained by the Associated Press and was prepared from data the Vatican collected to help the Holy See defend itself before a U.N. committee this week in Geneva.

However, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's U.N. ambassador in Geneva, referred to just one of the statistics in the course of eight hours of questioning from the U.N. human rights committee.

While it's not clear why the numbers spiked in 2011, it could be because 2010 saw a new explosion in the number of cases reported in the media in Europe and beyond.

The statistics were compiled from the Vatican's own annual reports about the activities of its various offices, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex abuse cases. Although public, the annual reports are not readily available or sold outside Rome and are usually found in Vatican offices or Catholic university libraries.

A review of the reference books shows a remarkable evolution in the Holy See's in-house procedures to discipline paedophiles since 2001, when the Vatican ordered bishops to send cases of all credibly accused priests to Rome for review.

Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took action after determining that bishops around the world weren't following church law to put accused clerics on trial in church tribunals. Bishops routinely moved problem priests from parish to parish rather than subject them to canonical trials – or turn them into police.

For centuries, the church has had its own in-house procedures to deal with priests who sexually abuse children. One of the chief accusations from victims is that bishops put the church's own procedures ahead of civil law enforcement by often suggesting victims keep accusations quiet while they are dealt with internally.

The maximum penalty for a priest convicted by a church tribunal is essentially losing his job: being defrocked, or removed from the clerical state. There are no jail terms and nothing to prevent an offender from offending again.

According to the 2001 norms Ratzinger pushed through and subsequent updates, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reviews each case sent to Rome and then instructs bishops how to proceed, either by launching an administrative process against the priest if the evidence is overwhelming or a church trial. At every step of the way the priest is allowed to defend himself.

The Congregation started reporting numbers only in 2005, which is where Tomasi's spreadsheet starts off. U.N. officials said Friday that the committee has not received the document.

Edited by Steve Wilson

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€110m scheme to help victims of institutional abuse



A scheme has been launched to assist people who, as children, experienced abuse in institutions in Ireland and who received awards either through the Residential Institutions Redress Board or in the courts.

Managed by a statutory body called Caranua, it is supported by a fund of €110m pledged by religious congregations. 

“Caranua is committed to making a real difference to the lives of survivors,” said chief executive Mary Higgins. 

“Many have suffered lifelong disadvantage as a result of their childhood experiences and most are now ageing. We cannot undo what was done but we can provide assistance to make their living conditions more comfortable and their lives fuller.” 

The aim of the scheme is to bring about improvements in the living conditions and well-being of survivors. Caranua will provide an information and advice service, work with public bodies to ensure survivors have statutory entitlements, and will fund the provision of additional health, housing, and education services. 

“This is not a cash payment. The scheme is in recognition that cash alone may not have addressed the needs and many of the issues of survivors of industrial abuse,” Ms Higgins said, adding that “what we hope to do is provide a service dedicated to them”.

Some 15,000 people are potentially eligible to benefit from Caranua. Of that, 8,500 are in Ireland, 5,000 in Britain, and the remainder live around the world, mainly in Canada, Australia, and the US. There is no deadline for applications. 

-For more on the scheme, go to, or contact Caranua in Ireland on 1800 212477, or from the UK on 0808 2341303.

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Past pupils honour 'architect of vocational education'



The past pupils of two Cork schools are joining forces to honour one of the country’s greatest education innovators.

The past pupils unions (PPU) of both the North Monastery and Christian Brothers’ Colleges (CBC) are working on a programme of events to honour the memory and legacy of Br James Dominic Burke — widely recognised as the architect of vocational and technical education in Ireland. 

Jim O’Connell, the president of the North Monastery PPU, said they hope to stage an exhibition later in the spring. 

But it is also hoped the city council will incorporate a permanent memorial to Br Burke in the revamped Fitzgerald Park, where he and his students participated in the Great Cork Exhibition in 1902. 

“Brother Burke’s contribution to Cork and to Ireland’s educational system was immense, and it is fitting that these two schools, and the city, would give due recognition to this great man,” Mr O’Connell said. 

Br Burke, who began teaching natural philosophy (science) at the North Mon in 1857, pioneered vocational and practical education and introduced subjects such as trigonometry, physics and astronomy. 

He amassed a vast collection of scientific equipment for the school, including electric dynamos, gas and steam engines, and zoological specimens, some of which survive to this day. 

In 1877, he organised a light show over Cork, by connecting a battery of 120 callan cells to a huge lamp on the wall of the school, to demonstrate the potential of electricity. It took place two years before Thomas Edison was credited with inventing the light bulb. 

Br Burke’s teaching methods were replicated in Christian Brothers’ schools across the country. 

He was appointed the first principal of CBC, which celebrated its 125th anniversary last year. 

In 1902, his 50th year as a Christian Brother, he was made president of the newly formed Scientific Association in Cork. 

He died in March 1904, a week after being knocked down by a horse and carriage as he crossed St Patrick’s St. 

Pat Cashman, a member of CBC’s PPU, said they were delighted to be involved. 

“Our hope is to use the year to commemorate Br Burke in a way that will provide inspiration to current and future generations in such vital areas as science, technology and innovation,” he said. 

* If you’d like to help the committee commemorate Br Burke, contact 

Submarine genius 

The Central Bank plans to issue a special coin later this year honouring the Irish-born inventor of the modern submarine. 

It is expected that the €15 silver proof coin, bearing an image of John Philip Holland who tested some of his early prototypes on the grounds of a Cork school, will be issued in September. 

Tony Duggan, the retired deputy principal of the gaelcholáiste at the North Mon in Cork City, has been campaigning for years for more recognition of the forgotten genius. 

“Holland is one of those iconic Irish people who is sadly more recognised abroad than in Ireland,” Mr Duggan said. “Hopefully, this coin issue and other events planned for this year to mark the centenary of his death, will help to correct the imbalance.” 

Holland’s father, John Holland Sr, was born in Bantry around 1800, and John Philip was born in Liscannor, Co Clare, in 1841. He was taught in the North Mon from 1858 to 1861, where he drew up his first submarine designs and conducted several experiments of wooden prototype craft in the school’s ornamental pond and in the River Lee. 

By 1897, his first submarine was launched in the US. By Oct 1900, the Holland 6 was commissioned into the US Navy. 

He also designed the first submarines in the British, Japanese, and Dutch navies, marine craft which changed the course of history.

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New scheme launched for survivors of abuse in residential institutions



Thursday 16 January 2014 21.59

Up to 15,000 former residents could be eligble for the scheme
Up to 15,000 former residents could be eligble for the scheme

A new scheme has been launched to assist survivors of child abuse in residential institutions.

The scheme, called Caranua, draws on a €110 million fund committed by religious congregations who ran the institutions.

Only those people who received awards either through the Residential Institutions Redress Board or the Republic's courts are entitled to apply for help through Caranua.

A spokesperson for Caranua told RTÉ News that 15,000 former residents fall into these categories, but it is not known how many have died since the Redress Board began operating over 11 years ago.

She said over 40% are known to be living, or to have lived, abroad when they applied for their awards.

Information on the scheme is available online at or by phone on 1800 212477 and 0808 2341303 (from the UK). 

Contact can also be made by post to PO Box 12477, Dublin 1.

Caranua advises a copy of a court or settlement order, if relevant, should be included with postal correspondence.

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UN questions Vatican officials on child abuse


The Vatican faces allegations that it protected paedophile priests and not victims
The Vatican faces allegations that it protected paedophile priests and not victims

The Vatican is being questioned by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) over how it handled allegations of child sexual abuse committed by priests.

The six-hour meeting at the Palais Wilson in Geneva is the first time the Holy See has been publicly questioned by an international panel over the child abuse scandal.

The UN panel will assess the church's adherence to the 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The treaty guarantees a full range of human rights for children and was signed by the Holy See.

Alleged victims of abuse at the hands of Catholic priests are among those in attendance at the event, including representatives from the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

Head of the mission Silvano M Tomasi told the meeting the Holy See is committed to eliminating abuse.

He said: "The Holy See has carefully delineated policies and procedures designed to help eliminate such abuse and to collaborate with respective state authorities to fight against this crime.

"The Holy See has also committed to listen carefully to victims of abuse and to address the impact such situations have on survivors of abuse and on their families."

Mr Tomasi is the permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations.

"The vast majority of church personnel in institutions and the local level have provided and continue to provide a wide variety of services to children by educating them and by supporting their families and by responding to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs," he added.

"Egregious crimes of abuse committed against children have rightly been adjudicated and punished by the competent civil authorities in their respective countries."

Mr Tomasi also told the meeting the Vatican would welcome recommendations from the UN CRC.

Pope Francis last month ordered the formation of a child protection committee to address the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church.

The group will also consider ways to better screen priests, protect minors and help victims in the face of charges the Vatican has not done enough to guard the vulnerable or make amends.

However, the Vatican refused to provide the UN rights panel with information on the church's internal investigations into the sexual abuse of children by clergy.

The Holy See said it would not release information on its internal investigations into abuse cases unless required to do so by a request from a state or government to cooperate in legal proceedings.

Keywords: un, vatican

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Man recalls childhood abuse in Rubane House, Kircubbin


crossConor Ryan claims he was abused at a house run by the Catholic Church order, the De La Salle Brothers

A man who alleges he was abused in a County Down children's home almost 60 years ago has welcomed an apology but said it does not go far enough.

Conor Ryan said he was physically and sexually abused by staff at Rubane House in Kircubbin in the late 1950s.

Mr Ryan said his younger brother was also abused at Rubane House, but did not confide this in him until shortly before his death three years ago.

The home was run by a Catholic Church order - the De La Salle Brothers.

Lifelong scars

Mr Ryan told BBC Good Morning Ulster that at one stage he was hospitalised as a result of the order's abuse.

"I ended up in hospital in Newtownards, I had my head split open with a hurley stick with metal bands on it."

He also described how one of the De La Salle brothers had split the ends of a cane "so he would get more effect when he was hitting me".

"I still have a scar on my hand and a scar on me knee," Mr Ryan said.

"It was just brutal in there. It was physical and sexual."

He recalled how one brother repeatedly hit the boys on the ankles with a hurley stick while they were in the showers and grabbed them indecently.

Mr Ryan was sent to live in Rubane House in 1957, when he was aged about 11, following the death of his father.


He said his mother, who had just given birth to his younger brother, was "struggling" and had to put him into care.

His younger brother was sent to the same home a year later, but Mr Ryan said it was a further year before he knew this, as staff had kept the pair apart.

"I didn't know he was there because I was put down on a farm," he said.

"They used to put boys down there who wet the bed. I think I was wetting myself with fear because of the beatings we got.

"I only saw my brother when he was getting punished. He died three years ago and he told me, before he died, that he'd been abused seven times."

Mr Ryan said when he was moved to a children's home in England in the early 1960s, he was found to be malnourished because of his treatment at Rubane House.

He said many of the boys who lived at the home suffered bowel problems in later life.


The pensioner became involved in the campaign for victims of abuse in residential homes after watching a programme on Rubane House a number of years ago.

Mr Ryan said he feels he now owes it to his late brother to get justice.

On Tuesday, De La Salle was one of two Catholic orders that said sorry for the abuse children suffered in their children's homes in Northern Ireland.

The Sisters of Nazareth and the De La Salle brothers issued apologies on the second day of a major abuse inquiry's public hearings.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry is the biggest public inquiry into child abuse ever to take place in the UK.

It is investigating abuse claims in 13 children's home and juvenile justice centres, from 1922 to 1995, including Rubane House.

Tuesday also marked Mr Ryan's 69th birthday and he described the De La Salle apology as "the best birthday present I ever got".

"But I still don't feel they've gone far enough with the apologies.

"It's a start, but they have a way to go yet," he said.

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Vatican faces UN grilling on child sex abuse


The Vatican is gearing up for a bruising showdown over the global priest sex abuse scandal, forced for the first time to defend itself at length and in public against allegations it enabled the rape of thousands of children by protecting paedophile priests and its own reputation at the expense of victims.

The Holy See will today be grilled by a UN committee in Geneva on its implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Among other things, the treaty calls for signatories to take all appropriate measures to protect children from harm and put child-ren’s interests above all else. 

The Holy See ratified the convention in 1990 and submitted a first implementation report in 1994. However, it did not provide progress reports for nearly a decade, and only submitted one in 2012 after coming under criticism following the 2010 explosion of child sex abuse cases in Europe and beyond. 

Victims groups and human rights organisations rallied together to press the UN committee to challenge the Holy See on its abuse record, providing written testimony from victims. Their reports cite case studies in Mexico and Britain, grand jury investigations in the US, and government fact-finding inquiries from Canada to Ireland to Australia that detail how the Vatican’s policies, culture of secrecy, and fear of scandal contributed to the problem. 

Their submissions reference Vatican documents that show its officials knew about a notorious Mexican molester decades before acting. They cite correspondence from a Vatican cardinal praising a French bishop’s decision to protect his abusive priest, and another Vatican directive to Irish bishops to strike any mandatory reporting of abusers to police from their policies. 

The submissions even quote the former Vatican No 2 as saying bishops should not be expected to turn their priests in. 

“For too many years, survivors were the only ones speaking out about this and bearing the brunt of a lot of criticism,” said Pam Spees, a human rights attorney for the Centre for Constitutional Rights, which provided a report to the committee. 

“And so this is a very important moment for many, many people who are here in Geneva and around the world who will be watching as the Holy See is called for the first time ever to actually answer questions.” 

To date, the Holy See has never had to defend its record to any large extent or in court, since it has successfully argued that it is immune from lawsuits as a sovereign state and that, regardless, bishops were responsible for paedophile priests in their care, not the Pope or his policies. 

The UN committee, composed of independent experts, not other UN member states, will issue its final observations and recommendations on Feb 5. The recommendations are not binding and the committee has no ability to sanction the Vatican for any shortcomings. Rather, the process is aimed at encouraging — and occasionally shaming — treaty signatories into abiding by their international commitments.

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US wants Irish priest to face sex abuse charges



An Irish priest who fled to Ireland from the US in the wake of sex abuse allegations has been formally indicted by a criminal grand jury and is facing extradition.

Fr Michael Kelly was indicted on three counts of “lewd and lascivious conduct” on a child and one count of oral copulation on a child. 

The district attorney’s office in Calaveras County in California has said it is now seeking the Tipperary native’s extradition from Ireland to face charges. 

In Apr 2012, Fr Kelly returned to Ireland just a day before he was due to give evidence relating to abuse he was accused of inflicting upon an altar boy in the 1980s. 

Before he fled, he wrote to the bishop saying he was on his way to Ireland, that he was suffering from “chronic bowel problems”, and was “physically and mentally spent” from the “vicious false allegations that had been spread about me over the last four-and-a-half years”. 

Fr Kelly said he wanted to be with his family, “whose support and love for me is unconditional”. 

The diocese where the abuse allegedly took place agreed to pay $3.75m (€2.8m) to the claimant. 

Two more people came forward in 2012 alleging they had been abused by Fr Kelly. 

One man claimed he was sexually abused three times at a mission church in Calaveras around 2000, when he was a 10-year-old altar boy, while Fr Kelly was a pastor there. 

Fr Kelly has always protested his innocence. According to the US media, he has not been defrocked there and continues to hold the title of priest, but is no longer allowed to wear a priest’s collar or perform the sacraments.

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Brothers apologise for abuse and suffering of boys in their care


Sisters of Nazareth ‘appalled and shocked’ by testimony given about their order

“Brothers recognise the immense pain and suffering and damage caused to those victims who have been abused.” Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Wed, Jan 15, 2014, 01:00


The De La Salle Brothers have apologised unreservedly for abuse and suffering inflicted on children in their care.

The inquiry into historical abuse at a range of residential care homes in Northern Ireland heard senior counsel for the religious order offer the apology yesterday during the second day of oral hearings.

Kevin Rooney QC, for the De La Salle Brothers, said: “Brothers recognise the immense pain and suffering and damage caused to those victims who have been abused.”

He added: “Brothers recognise the sense of betrayal that the victims have experienced and the violation of trust caused by certain brothers within the order. They recognise that there have been failures to protect the victims.

“De La Salle order deeply regrets the acts of some of its members which have irreparably damaged the reputation of the order and undermines the selfless care provided by so many of the brothers in pursuance of their vocation.”

The coming months will not be easy for the brothers or for victims, he told the inquiry.

Further admissions
The inquiry, chaired by Sir Anthony Hart, also heard admissions from senior counsel on behalf of a second religious order. Turlough Montague QC, representing the Sisters of Nazareth, said members of the order were “appalled and shocked” by some of the testimonies that have come to light so far.

The sisters “have already begun their period of reflection on the past”.

“Former residents have come to them over the past number of years to tell them of their unhappiness in their homes and they have been appalled and shocked at the statements of those persons who have come before the inquiry to date to tell of their experiences in their homes,” Mr Montague said.

“I also wish to state on behalf of the Sisters of Nazareth that they recognise the hurt that has been caused to some children in their care. They apologise unreservedly for any abuse suffered by children in their care. They go forward hoping that lessons will be learned not just by them in the provision of care but also by carers generally in society and the wider society at large.”

Moira Smyth, appearing for the North’s Health and Social Care Board, told the inquiry’s chairman: “Where the board failed to meet acceptable standards for the care and upbringing of children in institutions, and that resulted in wrongdoing, the board is sorry and offers its apologies to the individuals concerned.”

Better future
The sharing of experiences and close scrutiny of those in institutions should assist in developing a better future for children who live in residential care, she said.

Short opening statements were also made by representation for other agencies or bodies – the so-called core participants in the inquiry. These include children’s charity Barnardos, the Stormont Department of Justice and Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

Learning from past
Claire Bates, for Barnardos, said the organisation was committed to learning from the past.

Francis O’Reilly, representing the Stormont Department of Health, said access by the inquiry to records was granted without hesitation and further assistance would be freely given.

For the Department of Justice, Martin Wolfe pledged “co-operation and openness”, adding that a collegiate response by all “core participants” would help ensure the inquiry met its objectives.

Sir Anthony said the next public hearing of the inquiry on January 27th would address two residential institutions in Derry in accordance with the inquiry’s plan to deal with evidence in “modules”.

The first witnesses are expected to be heard on January 28th.

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North's child abuse inquiry 'will examine the soul of society'



The inquiry into the abuse of children at residential homes in the North will examine the soul of society, a lawyer has said.

Decades of physical, sexual and emotional suffering were inflicted upon the most vulnerable by the Church, the State and voluntary organisations, it was alleged yesterday. 

More than 300 victims are set to testify to the investigation, which is expected to last 18 months. 

Christine Smith, the inquiry’s senior counsel, told Anthony Hart, a retired judge presiding over the hearings, they would give voice to those who felt let down by the system. 

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children,” she said.

The hearing got under way in Banbridge, Co Down, where scores of victims and their families packed the public gallery to hear Ms Smith outline harrowing details of abuse which carried on largely unchecked for more than seven decades. 

It involved homes in Belfast, Derry, and Kircubbin, in Co Down, as well as the notorious Kincora boys’ home in east Belfast. 

It was created in response to a campaign for justice by victims, which became increasingly urgent in 2009 following the findings of the Ryan Report in the south, which uncovered evidence of endemic abuse. 

Most complaints relate to Catholic homes for children looked after between 1945 and the end of the 1970s. 

Ms Smith said many victims had waited years for the opportunity to give their accounts of what happened. 

Around 97,000 pages of evidence have been submitted. 

The allegations included: 

- Sexual attacks by staff, adults or older children. 
- Physical assaults by staff with implements. 
- Denigration of their families or separation from brothers or sisters. 
- Bullying by older children. 
- Placing them in cupboards or other threatening behaviour. 
- Public humiliation of children who wet their beds. 
- Excessive labour. 
- Removal of gifts. 
- Denial of food, affection or education. 
- Lack of staffing or oversight, medical attention or preparation for leaving institutional care. 

Mr Hart said he hoped every person who gave evidence to the public hearings or only spoke during the private and confidential part of the inquiry would have the satisfaction of knowing that their experiences were at last being listened to and investigated. “I say at last being listened to because one of the things that we have heard again and again is that when complaints about abuse were made to people in authority, all too often their response was to ignore, or not to believe, what they were being told.” 

Public hearings are due to finish in Jun 2015 with the inquiry team to report to Stormont’s Executive by the start of 2016.

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Inquiry into abuse in NI children's homes and borstals to begin


Inquiry into abuse in NI children's homes and borstals to begin

Sir Anthony Hart poses in front of the inquiry's appeal posterSir Anthony Hart, a retired High Court judge, is chairing the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry

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The biggest public inquiry into child abuse ever held in the UK is due to begin its first public hearings in Northern Ireland later.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) is examining abuse claims in children's homes and juvenile justice over a 73-year period.

It was set up by Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive to investigate allegations dating from 1922 to 1995.

To date, 434 people have contacted the inquiry to allege they were abused.

It is investigating claims of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as childhood neglect.

Personal stories

The public hearings stage of the inquiry is being held in Banbridge, County Down, and is expected to last for 18 months.

During that time, it is due to hear evidence from more than 300 witnesses, including former residents who claim they were abused as children, the people who ran the institutions, health and social care officials and government representatives.

The inquiry's remit is limited to children's residential institutions in Northern Ireland.

HIA abuse inquiry - the numbers

• 434 people have made formal applications to speak to the inquiry

• 300+ witnesses are expected to testify during the public hearings

• 263 alleged victims have already given statements to the inquiry's acknowledgement forum

• 13 residential institutions are currently under investigation by the inquiry team

So far, it is examining claims against 13 children's homes and borstals.

Some of the institutions were run by state authorities, others were staffed by voluntary organisations and the remainder were run by the Catholic Church.

Since October 2012, the inquiry has been taking evidence in private sessions from former residents who claim they were abused.

People making abuse allegations were asked to tell their personal stories to the inquiry's Acknowledgement Forum and those called to give evidence in public will be offered anonymity.

Legal powers

Of the 434 people who have made a formal application to speak to the inquiry, the majority still live in Northern Ireland.

Institutions under investigation

Local authority homes:

• Lissue Children's Unit, Lisburn

• Kincora Boys' Home, Belfast

• Bawnmore Children's Home, Newtownabbey

Juvenile justice institutions:

• St Patrick's Training School, Belfast

• Lisnevin Training School, County Down

• Rathgael Training School, Bangor

Secular voluntary homes:

• Barnardo's Sharonmore Project, Newtownabbey

• Barnardo's Macedon, Newtownabbey

Catholic Church-run homes:

• St Joseph's Home, Termonbacca, Londonderry

• Nazareth House Children's Home, Derry

• Nazareth House Children's Home, Belfast

• Nazareth Lodge Children's Home, Belfast

• De La Salle Boys' Home, Kircubbin, County Down

About a third of the applications are from people who are now living elsewhere, including Australia, Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and other countries.

To date, 263 people have met members of the Acknowledgement Forum to have their allegations recorded.

The HIA inquiry is independent of government and has the power to compel witnesses to give evidence.

It does not have the legal authority to find anyone guilty of criminal acts, but where it does receive evidence that a crime has taken place, the details will be passed to police.

The public hearings are due to open at Banbridge Courthouse in County Down on Monday afternoon, when the chairman, retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, will deliver an opening address.

Over the next three days, the inquiry's legal team is due to provide a general overview, outlining the proceedings and the issues they are expected to address.

When the opening remarks are complete, the first stage of public hearings will concentrate on allegations made against two Catholic children's homes in Londonderry

Nazareth House Children's Home in Bishop Street and St Joseph's Home in Termonbacca were both run by the same order of nuns - the Sisters of Nazareth.

The public hearings are due to finish in June 2015, and the inquiry team has been given a further six months to report its findings to the Stormont Executive.

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Applications to the Statutory Fund - Now Open



This is to let you all know that the Caranua website has a ‘News Update’ today saying that the Fund has opened.


Caranua has opened the fund for applications from survivors who have previously received compensation through the redress process or through the courts. Information is available on their website in the news updates which states that:

“The criteria for the scheme have been finalised. If you are on Caranua’s mailing list, information and application forms will be sent to you, or you can download them from website   The application process is in two parts. The first part is to confirm that you are eligible to apply and is downloadable from the website. The second is the application for services. Once we (Caranua) have confirmed that you are eligible, we (Caranua) will contact you to discuss your needs and the next steps.


For further information please contact us on our new Freephone numbers.


0808 234 1303 if you are calling from the UK (Charges may apply from some mobile networks)  or  


1800 212477 if you are calling from Ireland”   


“Caranua is the new service name of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund established in March 2013, to improve the quality of life and well-being of survivors of institutional abuse. It can do this by ensuring that survivors are receiving statutory entitlements, adding to statutory entitlements and providing grants to individual survivors to avail of services. Assistance can be provided in the areas of:


”Health, including mental health

”Personal social services




Please visit Caranua’s website  or contact Caranua directly for further information.




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Hundreds of Irish babies used in medical research and dissection



Babies used as research subjects without single mothers’ consent

Deceased babies and those house in state homes were tested on by pharmaceutical companies into the late 1960s
Photo by Google Images

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A disturbing documentary that ran on RTÉ’s Prime Time revealed the gruesome fact that hundreds of Irish babies born out of wedlock were used in medical research without their mothers’ consent. 

The babies were mostly taken from children’s residential institutions or ‘Mother and Baby Homes’. Hundreds of bodies of dead babies were sent from the homes to Irish Medical colleges, and other, live babies were vaccinated in the homes with experimental drugs and closely monitored for side effects.

The Adoption Rights Alliance call the experiments “an utter contempt for children born outside of marriage and for their mothers.”

Although the research on the dead babies was conducted by medical students, the experiments on the live children with the vaccines were in the control of a pharmaceutical company.

According to the documentary, the Polio vaccine was developed during the 1950’s. While this led to a decreases in such diseases as diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough, it did require an increase in the amount of child research performed. Much of the research was consequently performed in children’s institutions or homes for single mothers, because of the high concentration of the children in one area. The experiments were carried out through the 1960s, but it is only now that the public outrage has truly set in.

UN Torture Committee asks for inquiry into Magdalene laundries

Enda Kenny demands Catholic Church’s cooperation when it comes to child safety plans

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According to the documentary, “in the mid 20th century, it was much easier for research to do research on a captive population where you’ve got all the subjects you’ve might want for the  study, all there in one place.” Patrick Meenan, one of the leaders of the studies, justified his choice of study participants as there was “a tradition of doing testing in orphanages. You went to where the material was, to put it crudely.”

Meenan, who was a microbiologist at University College Dublin as well as a government advisor, and Irene Hillary led the vaccine studies. Their goal was to make better, cheaper vaccines with fewer side effects in partnership with a leading pharmaceutical company. Thus, they wanted large numbers of children who could be easily monitored without having to deal with getting consent.

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Research using dead babies queried as early as 2002



The Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) and Department of Health were questioned on the use of dead children for research in Irish universities years before the scandal became public.

It emerged last October that more than 450 dead babies, the majority from St Patrick’s mother-and-baby home and its sister hospital St Kevin’s in Dublin, were dissected in the medical departments of Irish universities without the knowledge or permission of their mothers. Many of the children were buried years later in the Angels’ Plot in Glasnevin, registered as “anatomical subjects.” 

The universities involved were the Royal College of Surgeons, Trinity College Dublin, UCD, UCC and then UCG. 

Documentation seen by the Irish Examiner shows that a letter from the Irish Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (ISANDS) was sent to the chief executive and council members of RCSI as far back as Mar 2000 questioning if such practices had occurred in Irish universities. The letter received no response. 

Some of the questions posed in the letter were: 

* Can babies be lawfully used in experimental procedures in this country? 

* Have babies’ bodies been retained for teaching purposes for years? 

* Where did anatomical babies buried in Glasnevin come from? 

* Were these babies used in universities for studies or research trials? 

Similar questions were posed by ISANDS in its submission to the Dunne Inquiry into the organ retention scandal in 2000 and again at the working group headed by Dr Deirdre Madden in 2005, which ISANDS claim was attended by Department of Health officials. The issue was again raised following the publication of the Carter and Willis reports into organ retention practices in 2009. 

However, the RCSI denied having ever received such a letter from ISANDS and reissued the response it sent to Prime Time in October. 

This stated that, up to the mid-1960s, all bodies unclaimed after 48 hours could also legally be sent to the anatomy departments of the Medical Schools and that prior to the 1960s many of these bodies were those of infants. It acknowledged, that by today’s standards, these practices were unacceptable. 

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, national chairperson of ISANDS Ron Smith-Murphy said if the RCSI did not receive the letter, why did it not admit to holding and using the bodies of infants for research at the time of the Organ Retention Scandal rather than waiting until last October. 

“While I am very mindful that these issues are of a very sensitive nature and painful reminders for parents of a time in Ireland when their children seemed not to matter when it came to acknowledgment or recognition yet it seems these children mattered a great deal to those who wanted to use them for medical research.”

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Bethany debate a sad day for politics



December 10 and 11 were sad days for Irish democratic politics. Reference the debate on the Bethany Home survivors’ case.

Ministers Alan Shatter and Kathleen Lynch have not showered the issue of democratic procedure of the Dáil in glory. 

It was disgraceful to hear Minister Lynch trying to get people to accept the opposite view she had prior to being elected to government. Minister Shatter tried to get people to believe Bethany Home was only a baby and mother home when he his officials knew it was also a children’s home, an orphanage, a prison for adults and a detention centre for people under the age of 17. Then they tried to make the argument the Magdalene laundry was not like Bethany Home, nor was it anything like any other home on the Redress Bill. 

And then to see the two ministers failing to turn up to debate their arguments. This is a very dangerous game to be playing with democratic procedures which were hard won. 

We all know the history of allowing democracy to be trashed — witness the contempt which the two world wars had for the democratic procedure. 

Shame on them, for treating a minority group the way they have done to-date. 

Derek Linster 

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