February 2015 Archives
Death of Joe Power
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Joe Power in Cork
Joe was with the Sisters of Mercy in Killarney and then was taken to St. Joseph’s Industrial School, Glin Co. Limerick.
In 1996 he was transferred to Tralee Industrial School when Glin Closed down but was taken back to Glin again where he helped in setting up for the seminarians. He eventually was found work in the North Mon in Cork where he also achieved a university education. Most of his life was abroad but on his return he set up home in Watergrass Hill Cork.
· Thursday evening at 16.30 at the house.
· Removal at 7. 0 clock to the church in Watergrass Hill
· Mass at the Church in Watergrass Hill on Friday at 2. O clock and afterwards to the Crematorium
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Abuse inquiry will go all the way back to 1945: Shock vow by the New Zealand judge leading investigation as she scorns 'Establishment'... and reveals own secret marriage heartbreaks
Justice Lowell Goddard says sex perverts from 70 years ago to be pursued
Anyone suspected of criminal acts will be handed over to police she says
Until now, the child sex abuse inquiry has focused mainly on post-70s era
Investigation was sparked by claims of 1980s Westminster paedophile ring
The inquiry into historic child sex abuse is to be extended to crimes committed as long ago as the Second World War – and possibly even further.
It means child sex perverts dating back 70 years will be pursued, and raises the prospect of people in their 90s being hauled before the inquiry.
Those suspected of committing crimes will be handed over to police and could face jail.
Tough stance: Justice Lowell Goddard says the inquiry into historic child sex abuse is to be extended to crimes committed as long ago as the Second World War – and possibly even further
The extension in the investigation, sparked by claims of a 1980s Westminster paedophile ring, was revealed by Justice Lowell Goddard, the new head of the inquiry, in an interview with The Mail on Sunday.
New Zealander Goddard was recruited by Home Secretary Theresa May after two other women picked to lead it had to step down due to links with the Establishment.
Until now, it was thought the inquiry would focus on the post-1970 era. But Justice Goddard is backing demands to go further.
'It's elastic,' she says. 'The terms of reference talk about going back to 1970 but there is a push from certain quarters to take it back to about 1945. A cut-off point is always a bit artificial – someone who falls on the wrong side of it is aggrieved.'
The Mail on Sunday understands that Justice Goddard is backed by Mrs May, who is considering removing all time limits, meaning it could take in the entire 20th Century. Either way, it will be the world's biggest ever investigation into paedophiles – and will take years.
But Justice Goddard plans to issue a series of interim reports to avoid a repeat of the scandal over the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War, which has been held up for six years.
Axed: Baroness Butler-Sloss quit as chairman of the inquiry after questions were raised about her brother sitting in the Cabinet in the 1980s. Her replacement Fiona Woolf later resigned over her links to former home secretary Leon Brittan
In a wide-ranging interview, in which she also revealed details of a tragic marriage cut short by illness, Justice Goddard, 66, said she:
Will 'not shrink' from taking on the establishment and investigating claims that MPs, Ministers, diplomats and military top brass were involved in child sex crimes.
Will investigate claims of paedophilia in private schools, the church, hospitals and children's homes.
Plans to hand over suspected paedophiles exposed by the inquiry to police.
Wants a South African post-apartheid style 'truth and reconciliation' healing process for victims and survivors.
The alleged 1980s Westminster child sex ring is said to have involved senior figures. Former Tory Home Secretary Leon Brittan, who died last month, was accused of being involved and of covering it up, though this has never been substantiated.
Justice Goddard said she 'wouldn't shrink' from summoning prominent people to give evidence. 'I don't feel intimidated,' she said. 'Nobody should be beyond the reach of the law.'
She added it was 'far too early' to say if she would ask to speak to Lady Brittan, Lord Brittan's widow. 'The Westminster aspect is just one,' she said, confirming she will look at 'institutional allegations going back to post-Second World War'.
Justice Goddard also said she believed child sex abusers of 1945 should be treated the same as those in 2015.
'Sexual abuse of little children has never been anything short of a serious crime and that does not alter through religious or cultural mores or a different era or time,' she said. 'If criminal offending is evident it will be handed to police. There are people who need to be given a voice about what has happened to them.'
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Let us hope so?
Just 72 of Magdalene women to receive maximum redress of €100,000
Just 72 of the almost 500 Magdalene survivors who have accepted redress will get the maximum amount of €100,000.
Responding to a series of parliamentary questions, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said 94 applications for redress have been refused, as the women were not in one of the 12 specified institutions.Under Justice John Quirke’s redress scheme, Magdalene survivors are to receive cash payments ranging between €11,500 (if their duration of stay was three months or less) to €100,000 (for duration of stay of 10 years or more).
Ms Fitzgerald declined to say how many applicants received lesser amounts than they applied for, due to inaccurate and/or missing records.
However, she said the records of the religious orders “are not regarded as decisive, they are just one factor that is taken into consideration”.
She said the vast majority of women seek independent legal advice before accepting any offer.
“For cases where there are missing records or no records available, my officials have commenced a process whereby those women are given the opportunity to meet with my officials and provide oral testimony about their time in an institution. These meetings are proving to be informative and productive. Each application is assessed on an individual basis taking into account any available records or documents, as well as the applicant’s testimony,” she said.
Ms Fitzgerald also stressed that if a survivor disagrees with the assessment, she can avail of an internal review process and an independent appeal process which involves a review by Ombudsman’s Office.
Claire McGettrick of Justice For Magdalenes Research (JFMR) said that without any concrete information as to the number of survivors accepting lesser amounts than they applied for “it is impossible to evaluate the success or failure of the scheme and most importantly, its effectiveness in improving the lives of Magdalene survivors”.
Ms McGettrick said JFMR has struggled to get clear answers from Ms Fitzgerald relating to the interview process.
“We are also concerned that the minister continues to refer to the interview process, whereby survivors can offer oral testimony to department officials. However there is no clear guide to this process and the minister has repeatedly declined to provide clear answers to questions from JFMR about this process,” she said.
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When will they ever learn?
Church watchdog critical of seven of nine orders in completed inspections on
Tuesday 10 February 2015 13.36
The Catholic Church's child protection watchdog has said seven of the nine orders it has just completed inspections on have a poor record of management, making any assessment of their current practice difficult.
The National Board for the Protection of Children says opportunities to safeguard children were missed and known abusers allowed to remain in ministry in 1990s.
In an Overview of its latest tranche of reviews, the Chief Executive of the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church, Teresa Devlin, says she's disappointed that most of the Orders have only been "bedding down" the whole area of safeguarding in the last couple of years.
Her spokesman said the following seven had significant problems: the Augustinians; The Passionists: The Discalced Carmelites; The Franciscan Friars and Brothers; The Servites; and the Marist Fathers.
The Sacred Heart Fathers of Jesus and Mary and the Dominican Sisters complied well with child protection standards and have demonstrated their commitment to responding promptly to allegations of abuse.
Franciscans 'regret' failing to protect children
The Franciscan Friars in Ireland (OFM) have expressed regret for missing opportunities to protect children who were sexually abused by a number of their Friars.
They say a report by the Catholic Church's child protection watchdog describes a "stark reality of abuse perpetrated by members of the Irish Franciscans over a 45 year period" up until 1998.
The report is one of 16 published today following the completion of the latest tranche of audits by National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland.
The report on the Irish Franciscans, says three friars were convicted by the courts during the period, and highlights the order's failure to deal adequately with complaints brought to its attention at the time.
The order says it regrets that there were "significant missed opportunities" to protect children other than those victimised by the convicted friars.
In a statement, the order's provincial apologised unreservedly to each and every survivor, and to their families, for the pain and harm inflicted on those who suffered abuse while under its care.
He also said no apology can ever be sufficient, and acknowledges with deep shame and sadness that the Franciscan Order failed them.
He adds that the order is encouraged that the report noted there was a change in safeguarding practice from 2009 on wards.
33 abuse allegations made against Augustinians
The Review of Safeguarding Practice in the Augustinians by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church found that 33 allegations of abuse had been received by the order since the beginning of 1975.
Allegations were made against 11 priests and brothers from January 1975 to the date of the review.
Seventeen allegations concerning members of the order have been reported to gardaí or the PSNI during this time.
Twelve were reported to agencies including Tusla, the Health Service Executive or health boards which preceded the HSE.
Seven of the priests and brothers against whom allegations were made are still members of the order.
Four of the members of the order against whom an allegation was made are deceased.
One member of the order, against whom an allegation has been made, is still in ministry, while three are out of ministry but are still members of the congregation.
Three of the priests and brothers who were the subject of allegations are retired.
11 allegations against Discalced Carmelite Friars
The review of safeguarding practice in the Discalced Carmelite Friars found that 11 allegations of abuse had been received by the order since the beginning of 1975.
Allegations were made against six friars from January 1975 to the date of the review.
Eight allegations concerning members of the order have been reported to gardaí during this time.
Six have been reported to agencies including Tusla, the HSE or health boards.
Two of the friars against whom allegations were made are still members of the order.
One of these is in restricted/private ministry, while the other remains in public ministry.
Four of the members of the order against whom an allegation was made are deceased.
The review found that the timeframe for reporting all of the allegations against living friars received by the order had been appropriate.
However, it noted that two allegations were made against a deceased priest and not notified to the gardaí for a number of years.
The reviewers were informed of the uncertainty within the order surrounding the notification process of allegations against deceased priests.
They acknowledged the welfare of children was not compromised because of the delayed notification.
The reviewers also said they were satisified that appropriate vetting procedures are in place within the order.
However they noted while practical procedures for vetting are in place, there is no written policy.
Reviewers also found that committment to safeguarding training within the Order is poor.
The reviewers saw no evidence that religious personnel, staff or volunteers received an induction on the order's safeguarding policies and procedures while working there.
In a statement, the order's provincial apologised "unreservedly for the hurt caused to persons by any of our friars for the betrayal of trust placed in them".
He said the order upholds the safety of children as paramount and has revised its safeguarding structure and updated its policies and procedures.
Order failed to implement recommendations
An audit of the Congregation of Passionist Priests has found that it has not implemented all the standards defined by the National Board for Safeguarding Children.
Twelve recommendations have been made in four areas of safeguarding, interim amendments to the safeguarding policy, case management and maintenance of files, role and development of the Safeguarding Committee, and role and function of the Advisory Panel.
Forty-two allegations relating to children or young people were made against members of the congregation.
None were substantiated.
All were passed to civil authorities at the time, and most relate to the 1950s.
Most of the accused are now deceased.
This data also included references to alleged adult and young adult victims which are outside the terms of reference of the report, as well as a number of cases where the alleged perpetrator has not been identified.
The reviewers concluded that 40 of the 42 allegations have been reported to gardaí or to the PSNI or to Scottish police.
In two cases, allegations relating to deceased men (received in 2010 and 2014) have not been reported on the basis that victims did not confirm information.
The 42 allegations relate to a total of 20 men who are, or at one time, were members of the Passionist congregation.
None of the 20 men subject to child sexual abuse allegations or concerns have been convicted or were subject to prosecution.
Sixteen of these men are deceased, and one is no longer a member of the congregation.
One priest has remained in ministry and two priests are out of ministry but are members of the congregation. In addition the student against whom there was an allegation was asked to leave.
In a statement, the congregation said The Passionists sincerely apologise for the pain experienced by those who have been hurt by the abuse perpetrated by their members, and acknowledge the deep suffering of the survivors and their ongoing trauma.
The Passionists say they are determined to ensure that past failings will not be repeated in the future and that children and young people will be safe in all aspects of their engagement with the Passionist Communities and Parishes.
Five allegations against three SSCC priests
The review of safeguarding practice in the male congregations of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (SSCC), has found that since January 1975, there have been five allegations made against three priests.
There have been no convictions.
Just one of the priests against whom an allegation was made is still alive. He is "out of ministry."
The review says that "since his withdrawal from all public ministry in 1995, clear documentary evidence on file indicates that all appropriate actions were taken in respect of support for the complainant and ...to ensure there was no further risk to children."
When it came to their attention that "there may have been a risk to other children apart from the children implicated in the original allegation, the Provincial sought the advice of a child protection specialist...to ascertain the level of risk."
And they "had no hesitation in providing support to those who had been abused...in the form of financial support towards counselling."
The congregation is said to have "especially good guidance on whistleblowing and for the appropriate use of social media...and the internet."
The reviewers were "impressed with the degree of knowledge, enthusiasm, and familiarity of safeguarding policy which key personnel possessed."
The SSCC "have no direct ministry with children."
Gardaí informed the reviewers that they have not concerns or issued held in relation to this congregation.
One recommendation in the review is that the SSCC safeguarding team should produce a written plan and ask parishioners about their views on policies.
There are ten members of the congregation living in Ireland and are in Dublin and in the Cootehill community, in the Cavan/Monaghan border area.
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Still not thee after all these years
Seven religious orders audited by child safety watchdogs have 'considerable work' to do
PUBLISHED10/02/2015 | 13:25
Only two religious orders audited by child safety watchdogs have demonstrated good compliance with rules to protect youngsters from abusers.
Following reviews last autumn, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NSBCCCI) warned seven congregations have considerable work to do on the issue.
The two orders praised by the review team were the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts, an order with 18 priests working and living in London, Dublin and in the Cavan-Monaghan area, and the Dominican Sisters, based in Dublin, Galway, Wicklow and in the North, working largely in education.
Teresa Devlin, chief executive of the NBSCCCI, warned that much work was needed for seven orders to fall into line with the official child protection standards.
"In relation to the large reviews, I'm disappointed that, for the majority of Orders, the whole area of safeguarding is only being bedded down in the last couple of years," she said.
"Of the nine only two orders have demonstrated good compliance with the standards, and have demonstrated their commitment to putting in place good safeguards for children as well as prompt responses to allegations of abuse. For the other seven there is considerable work to be done."
The board found poor record management in many cases making an assessment of child protection practice difficult.
Opportunities to safeguard children were missed, known abusers were allowed to remain in ministry in 1990s.
The board - the Catholic Church's own watchdog in Ireland - found management plans relating to accused priests and nuns have improved significantly over time but it warned there is still room for improvement, in terms of clarity of roles, review of restrictions, and sharing of information.
It noted that support for complainants is good in many cases with evidence of pastoral support, outreach and direct contact with survivors of abuse.
The board warned of variable delays in reporting allegations to the civil authorities up until 2009 but it also said some practices did not improve until 2013.
"A series of recommendations have been made within each report and the board expects that these will be acted upon," Ms Devlin said.
The board has requested the orders to make progress reports on the recommendations in nine months.
In the case of the Franciscan Friars, the watchdog points out that there were three "prolific" abusers within their ranks, although allegations had been levelled against 28 friars since 1975.
A significant number of the sexual abuse allegations relate to two friars, both of whom were convicted and served prison sentences.
One remains under supervision within the Order while the other left in 2003.
The watchdog said the Franciscans either delayed or failed to notify state authorities about the abuse and also delayed taking action under the Order's own canon law.
Furthermore, the Order had poor records of contact with victims and of monitoring friars under supervision.
It was concerned that the Order seemed to put more importance on legal processes rather than the pastoral support of victims in some cases.
"It is the opinion of the reviewers that civil settlements provide financial compensation but do not address other needs including counselling, care and support for the survivor," the report states.
"A more caring pastoral response is required and this is being reflected in the current Minister Provincial's willingness to reach out to survivors publicly in recent months."
In a statement, the Order's Minister Provincial, Hugh McKenna, said the report describes "the stark reality of abuse perpetrated" by Irish Franciscans over a 45-year period and also highlights the Order's "failure" to deal with the abuse.
"We regret that there were significant missed opportunities, as highlighted in the report, in terms of protecting other children from abusive behaviour," he said.
"As Provincial of the Irish Franciscans, I apologise unreservedly to each and every survivor for the pain and harm inflicted on those who suffered abuse while under our care.
"I apologise for the breach of trust, and the suffering victims and their families endured.
"I also know that no apology can ever be sufficient, and acknowledge with deep shame and sadness that the Franciscan Order failed you."
The report notes a change in safeguarding practices since 2009, which it says was further strengthened under Fr McKenna since his appointment in July 2011.
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Woman sues over alleged forced adoption in 1969
A 68-year-old woman is suing two religious orders and the HSE over the alleged forced adoption of her four-month-old baby over 40 years ago.
She says she was raped aged 21 in 1968, near Howth in Dublin, became pregnant, and was sent for pre- and post-natal care to St Patrick’s Mother and Baby home on the Navan Road, Dublin, before giving birth in March 1969, the High Court heard yesterday.
At that time, she had been living and working in the Magdalene Laundry in Drumcondra, Dublin, having already spent most of her life in care.
From the age of six, she lived in institutions which each had “extremely harsh” environments. She says she was physically abused, went hungry, was frightened a lot of the time, and had to work hard for no money. She was taken out of school in fifth class and sent to work in laundries with no freedom whatsoever, it is claimed.
Four months after the birth of her baby, in July 1969, the boy was taken away from her and given up for adoption. Six months later, a nun in the Magdalene Laundry told her if she didn’t sign the adoption papers she would be “put out on the street” although she insisted she wanted the child returned to her.
She was only allowed to see her baby in the nursery at feeding time and was not allowed to say goodbye to him, she says.
After the baby was adopted, she ran away from the laundry. She went on to marry and have six more children but following the unexpected death of her husband after 12 years, her life became quite chaotic and there were spells when her children were taken into care.
In 2008, when she began to look for her adopted son, she discovered he had died tragically at the age of 35, the court heard.
She is suing the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul who she says managed the Navan Road home, and the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge who ran the Magdalene Laundry, along with the HSE.
She claims damages for suffering caused by the defendants’ involvement in the taking of her first-born son without any, or adequate, prior consultation and/or without fully informed consent. She claims negligence, breach of duty, breach of constitutional rights, and fraud in the way in which the adoption was arranged in breach of the Adoption Act 1952.
The defendants deny the claims.
The Daughters of Charity asked High Court president Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns to dismiss her claim over delay in bringing proceedings because witnesses and documents are no longer available for them to defend the case properly.
The Daughters also say they did not manage St Patrick’s but this was done by predecessor to the HSE, the Eastern Health Board/Dublin Health Authority. The adoption was arranged through St Louise’s Adoption Society which was under the control of the health authority, they say
Mr Justice Kearns said he will give his decision later.
A nun who was a social worker in St Patrick’s in 1969 witnessed a “mother’s consent to adoption” document in May 1969 showing the Daughters of Charity were an integral part of the adoption process, it is claimed.
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Ryan did not ask for a 50/50 shareout?
Religious congregations who have failed to make promised payments to cover their share of institutional redress costs have blamed the shortfall on fluctuations in the property market. The orders claim that their property assets have suffered a 30 per cent drop in value since 2009.
Correspondence between the congregations and the Department of Education, obtained by The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, shows religious orders are taking a firm line against further contributions that would meet the Government’s target of an equal sharing of redress costs.
The congregations have to date lodged €81.44 million in the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund through cash payments and proceeds from property sales.
A further €42 million of property has been transferred to State ownership, leaving the congregations more than €300 million short of pledged contributions.
To pay their half-share of the redress bill, as sought by the Government, the congregations will have to meet these existing commitments and come up with a further €245 million in cash or property.
The cost of the redress scheme for institutional child abuse is estimated to reach €1.45 billion.
The Daughters of Charity has in recent weeks made a further cash contribution of €1 million to the fund, but it is still €7 million short of its pledged contribution. According to the department, the order has said this would be difficult to meet “without serious damage to the future of the congregation”.
The Presentation Sisters order has paid €4 million to date.
However, plans to hand over premises in Fethard, Co Tipperary, to the Health Service Executive (HSE) have stalled, during which time its valuation has fallen from a 2009 price tag of €1 million.
In a letter to the department, the congregation said: “If the value of the property has changed since our offer was made and accepted, we cannot take responsibility for fluctuations in the property market.”
Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy similarly pointed to falling property prices for its shortfall. In 2009, the order offered cash of €20 million and properties worth €107.5 million. While the cash payments have been made, most of the properties have either failed to achieve their valuation or have been held up by legal problems.
Of 18 properties prepared by the congregation for sale, 11 had been sold by last October. These included a convent in Cobh (valued at €1 million but sold for €246,747); Ardagh Demesne, in Co Longford (valued at €2.2 million but sold for €1.35 million); and a former convent in Dundalk (valued at €500,000 but sold for €180,714).
Overall, the Sisters of Mercy said the order had achieved only 65 per cent of the €6.7 million valuation made in 2009 for the 11 properties. The congregation also agreed to transfer 13 educational properties, valued at €19.6 million, to the department, and four health properties, valued at €61.3 million, to the HSE. These include the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire.
All of these transfers are part of a €352.6 million commitment in funding made by the congregations following the publication of the Ryan report in 2009.
An additional €128 million was pledged by the congregations under a 2002 indemnity agreement with the State. This agreement included cash contributions of €54 million, which have been met, and the transfer of 61 properties, 44 of which have been achieved.
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Redress scheme and the Religious
Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan has insisted she is “fully committed” to pursuing religious congregations for half of the €1.45 billion bill for the institutional redress scheme.
This is despite strong resistance from congregations which are refusing to accept the principle of a 50:50 split, while also delaying the handover of promised properties.
To date, the congregations have paid €81.44 million in cash to the redress fund, largely through the sale of property. Other properties valued at €42 million have been transferred to the state.
A further tranche of more than €300 million of property which the religious orders pledged to the state by way of compensation in 2009 has yet to be transferred.
But, according to the department, even when all these commitments are met, the congregations will be €245 million short of meeting their 50 per cent share – or €725 million – of the final bill.
Department memo In a statement, the department said Ms O’Sullivan “will continue her predecessor’s efforts to impress on congregations the need to increase their contributions to achieve that [50:50]target.”
However, a department memo prepared last May noted: “Apart from one congregation that believes its contribution represents its 50 per cent share, the remaining congregations have either declined to comment on the appropriateness of, or disagree with the 50:50 principle.”
The idea of splitting the costs in half was advanced by former minister for education Ruairí Quinn in 2011 amid intense criticism of the 2002 indemity deal signed by former taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
While the congregations agreed to increase their payments in 2009 following the Ryan report into institutional child abuse, they stopped short of accepting 50 per cent of the cost burden.
Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show Ms O’Sullivan wrote to a number of congregations last October which were behind on their scheduled payments.
These included the Christian Brothers, which has still to contribute €24 million in a promised cash contribution, and has also yet to transfer school playing fields and associated lands valued at €127 million to an independent trust jointly held by the Government and the Edmund Rice Schools Trust.
The Christian Brothers said they were still awaiting a review of their “assets, liabilities and potential liabilities” before proceeding. They said they would contact the department “when we have determined capacity to make our contributions”.
A previous round of correspondence by Ms O’Sullivan’s predecessor, Ruairí Quinn, in October 2013 elicited similar responses.
A department memo said the Christian Brothers had informed Mr Quinn “that a fire sale was in no-one’s interest and that they were continuing to monitor market developments”.
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'Cruelty men' colluded in the sanctified abuse of children
PUBLISHED25/06/2006 | 00:11
THERE is a horrible irony in the old Dublin terminology used for officers from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, now the Irish Society, formerly the National Society. They were known as the "cruelty men", while officials and volunteers with the Society of St Vincent de Paul were known as "the poverty men".
We have been accustomed to look with pride at the work done by the NSPCC and its successor. Even when made painfully aware of our national shortcomings in relation to the way children were mistreated in the past, we saw the Society as disinterested, committed, decent, caring with total probity for the welfare of the nation's disadvantaged children.
But last week we have been made aware of the reality. And we are forced to ask if children were ever safe in this hellhole called Ireland?
The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was questioning the current chief executive of the ISPCC at the public hearing of the commission's investigation committee. Paul Gilligan told the committee of the shame attached to unmarried women who gave birth. But there were no statistics as to how many of those women "gave away" their children in order to distance themselves from the stigma: the category ofillegitimacy was not used in institutions.
Why should it be? All of the children committed to those bleak prisons were treated as isolated numbers. They were not members of the community at large, much less the community of a family or that phrase so beloved of the religious in former years, "the communion of saints". Children, even those born in wedlock, could be removed from a loving family home because of the complaint of a spiteful neighbour when the parents' crime was merely poverty. Even sorrow became a crime, as children were committed because a father had died and the mother was destitute, or a mother had died and a father was emotionally destitute and unable to care for his children.
And then there were the children who never had a father, save in the biological sense. One woman told of her children being taken away when a nosy neighbour reported to the authorities that she was unmarried. She told it in a letter produced to the Commission by her son, one of those children removed from her side when he was only two years old. The children were "taken into care" by the NSPCC, which then committed them to an industrial school. The two-year-old remained there until he was 16.
And the NSPCC, far from stepping in on behalf of the children, eagerly co-operated in this process. There was even then plenty of anecdotal evidence that the industrial schools offered inducements to the "poverty men" to keep the supply of children coming. They got a capitation grant for the care and education (!) of each of the children committed to them.
And of course, the children were handy sources of cheap labour. This was at a time when such education as the children received would tell them of the horrors of the British Empire, which consigned small children to the workhouse, from where they were sold as slaves to chimney sweeps and undertakers. In contrast, these little Irish slaves stolen from their parents were told they were fortunate and, of course, destined for eternal salvation.
But the authorities knew nothing of this. How could they? The State was a noble one, operating entirely for the benefit of the children's present and future welfare. But the man who told the Commission of the years in his life between the ages of two and 16 said that his mother wrote to the authorities. He was still able to read her heartfelt and heartbroken letter. Her children were ill-treated and suffering in the school the State had given them to, she wrote. She wanted them back; she loved them. When they came home for holidays, they were ill from hunger, filthy and frightened. But the State sent them back to "school". Their home was a place of moral degradation: their mother was unmarried.
And the NSPCC was a willing participant in all of this. There was (and apparently is) reason to believe that at least some of its "officers" took the "inducements" to recommend the handing over of children to the industrial schools. Inducements: money. And while the ethos of the society proclaimed that they followed up on their cases, the reality was that the children were lockedbehind the walls of the industrial schools and forgotten.
And the State allowed this non-statutory agency, a voluntary organisation, to wield such power. And the State knew: it had at least one agonised letter which in a just world would have triggered a statutory national inquiry. Anyway, what use would an inquiry have been? In the Ireland of the time, an unsanctified home put a child in moral danger. And there are people who still believe that.
And that man and his late mother's letter were representative, Paul Gilligan said, of 70 per cent of referrals to the Society. Seventy per cent of referrals came from members of the public, and the NSPCC could act arbitrarily. They frequently did. And between one and three per cent of these children were committed to industrial schools. Committed without hope of redress, no matter what their ages, until they were 16 years old, and then turned out on the world, uneducated and adrift, without any emotional support. And in admirably neutral language, Mr Gilligan said there "was no evidence the society engaged in either thinking about or providing aftercare for such children".
But then, why should it? The Society's operatives were well-trained: they too had been brought up under the sway of the all-powerful religious: they saw no reason to question the system that gave the Religious Orders rights beyond those even of the children's parents. They had been reared to think that illegitimacy was the stain of Satan, and that an unmarried mother or a poor mother was an unfit mother. Just as a child being reared within a sanctified Catholic marriage was being reared correctly: children needed chastising, so beatings by those who wore wedding rings and went to Sunday or even daily Mass were merely justified punishments, not to be interfered with under the Constitutional status of "the family".
And the State colluded. Its operatives too, our TDs and Ministers, had been reared dutifully. They served a State whose first action had been to dedicate its service to the Vatican, where men who violated children's bodies were protected and promoted.
There is a horror in what we have been hearing at the Commission, a horror of inevitability and a chain incapable of being broken. With every piece of evidence, that hopeless chain is seen to have tightened its grip on the Ireland of the very recent past, forcing it to turn away from the "godless" outside world, a world where the State's Gothic imprisonment of helpless children might be criticised.
And nobody, nobody, nobody turned on the Frankenstein that was Catholic Ireland. Still nobody has turned: there are few voices saying that this baleful influence must be removed forever. They still talk about the individual good in priests, nuns and brothers; it is as though the monstrosity of the corporate cancer is too terrible to contemplate. State and Church, acting as one, corrupting even a voluntary service dedicated to the protection of children.
Can we go lower?
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Baby Home probe will exclude illegal adoptions?
Fears baby home probe will exclude illegal adoptions
Adoption campaigners are concerned that tens of thousands of unmarried women and girls whose children were forcibly or illegally adopted will be excluded from the upcoming mother and baby homes inquiry.
In a briefing note prepared for all TDs and senators in advance of last week’s second Dáil debate on the terms of reference for the inquiry, Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) expressed concern that the Government was determined to avoid fully examining the scale of forced and illegal adoptions The group argued that most illegal adoptions were undocumented and were carried out by individuals and institutions with no connection to mother and baby homes.
It said it feared that the State’s role through the then Adoption Board, State-funded maternity hospitals and all bar a handful of adoption agencies “will either not be uncovered or will be entirely underestimated”.
ARA cited St Patrick’s Guild as an example of an adoption agency excluded from the inquiry, pointing out it has been criticised in the Dáil by former justice minister Alan Shatter and current justice minister Frances Fitzgerald for issuing false and misleading information to mothers and children looking for one another.
Meanwhile, Tánaiste Joan Burton, TD Anne Ferris and Fianna Fáil senator Averil Power spoke to Miriam O’Callaghan about their experiences as adopted people and the difficulties they faced finding their natural mothers.
Ms Burton, who never got to meet her mother, recalled writing a letter to St Patrick’s Guild adoption agency asking if they would pass her letter to her mother.
“And I always remember, I got the letter back carefully re-sealed saying ‘No way’,” she said.
Ms Power said growing up as an adopted person, she always felt a “huge hole” in her life through not knowing her identity.
“I used to get particularly sad on my birthday, Christmas and family times. I’d be thinking about my mum and wondering where is she, is she ok, how have things turned out for her, do I have brothers and sisters.
“As I got older, I just felt there was this huge hole in my life,” she said.
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Redress and the Catholic Church
Church gives up €42m in land deal for victims
But amount surrendered so far is 'way short' of what Government wanted for redress system
PUBLISHED01/02/2015 | 02:30
The Catholic Church has surrendered ownership of 44 properties worth €42m to the State as part of the Residential Institutions Redress Act, the Sunday Independent can reveal.
The Government wanted the religious orders to pay half of the total bill of €1.4bn needed for redress payments and legal costs. But so far the value of the asset handover is still a long way short of the €700m the State is demanding.
School buildings, convents, vestries, playing fields and associated lands across Ireland are included in the list. The highest value property handed over was grounds in Merrion, south Dublin, valued at €8.9m.
Documents sent to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by Sean O Foghlu, Secretary General of the Department of Education, show that the properties were handed over "under the terms of the 2002 Indemnity Agreement".
According to his letter, which has been seen by this newspaper, the department agreed in principle with the Conference of Religious in Ireland to take control of 64 properties. These properties have been accepted "subject to good and marketable title and agreed valuations".
"This number has been reduced to 61 as the department has accepted and received a sum of cash in lieu of three properties where good and marketable title could not be established," Mr O Foghlu wrote.
According to the documents, apart from the significant site at Merrion, eight other properties worth more than €1m were surrendered.
They include a Terenure secondary school valued at €4.5m; St Teresa's convent at Temple Hill in Blackrock, valued at €3.1m, and a Traveller site also in Blackrock, which was valued at €3.1m. Other significant properties handed over included two separate properties in Tuam, Galway, valued at €3,020,000; St Anne's Secondary School, which was valued at €2,600,000; Holy Cross Gardens, Killarney, Co Kerry (€1,270,000); 23 Parnell Square, Dublin (€1,270,000); and Goldenbridge Group Homes, which were valued at €1,269,700.
As of December 31, a total of 44 properties have been transferred to the department and "there are no outstanding issues," Mr O Foghlu said.
The 44 properties, he said, represented two-thirds of the total monetary value of all properties being transferred under the Indemnity Agreement, excluding the cash in lieu settlement.
The documents went on to state that 17 properties have not yet fully transferred and "arrangements are being finalised".
"As it was likely that nine of the remaining properties would not meet the standard of good and marketable title required by the 2002 agreement, the Government agreed in 2013 that such properties could not be accepted," Mr O Foghlu said.
He said his department was engaging with the office of the Chief State Solicitor, who in turn is dealing with lawyers for the religious orders as well as the Health Service Executive (HSE).
The total cost of offering redress to the victims of abuse has soared to almost €1.4bn.
Under a controversial 2002 indemnity agreement, 18 religious orders which ran care institutions pledged to contribute €128m in cash, property and counselling services towards redress costs for abuse survivors. However, they later agreed to contribute €352.6 million for victims of institutional abuse. So far they have paid less than a quarter of that.
The documents, published yesterday under the Freedom of Information Act, give an overview of the payments made by 18 congregations to date.
In 2013, the then-Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said the State "got nowhere" in convincing Catholic religious orders to pay for half of the cost of residential abuse claims. He said the religious bodies would not accept the principle of 50-50 under the State-backed redress scheme.
He said the State had so far spent around €1.4bn on legal costs and awards relating to abuse at residential institutions. Mr Quinn said as a result of paying this money out, and the inability to get the church to contribute an equal share, everything else must be considered when it came to reducing expenditure at the Department of Education.
He was speaking about the cost to the State of compensation payments for abuse of children at former reformatories, industrial schools and other institutions over several decades.
The State established the Residential Institutions Redress Board in 2002 to make compensation payments to former residents who were abused.
At one time the Catholic Church in Ireland owned or occupied more than 10,700 properties across the country and controlled nearly 6,700 religious and educational sites.
The asset portfolio included schools, houses, halls, churches, convents, parks, sports fields, hospitals, farms, warehouses, shops and tracts of land.
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