March 2015 Archives
Today in Glin the Monument commemorating St. Joseph’s Industrial School Glin Co. Limerick has been set in place. There being no legal or other objections or restraints and with the support and good will of the vast majority of local people it is fitting that this Monument now stands among the others depicting the rich and varied nature of Glin’s Heritage.
This Monument is one of the most important in the Heritage Park representing as it does the lives of thousands of former residents of the industrial school and with a clear and unambiguous apology by the Christian Brothers who were responsible for the school. The inscription on the Monument was chosen by the Glin Project Committee (together with former past pupils of many other institutions) as being the most appropriate, representing as it does the attitudes of the various Irish Governments and the Religious Congregations at the time giving rise to their failures towards children in their care. We are indebted to the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund for authority to use this quote.
Many boys who were part of this history have taken their place among the nations of the world and it will forever be a place of pilgrimage for these people who until now have been long forgotten.
This Monument will enlighten the visitors and passersby alike in the coming years. Those of us who spent all of our early lives in the institutions were finally able to play our part in ensuring that both the Christian Brothers and the State would be found guilty of very serious abuses and neglect in Mr. Justice Sean Ryan’s Child Abuse Inquiry Report 2009.
It is our fervent hope that in the coming year this Monument will bring together again in Glin Town the many strands of both local, national and former past pupils from Ireland and much further afield to have this important Monument Blessed, Dedicated and Unveiled thereby bringing closure for the very many now elderly, infirm, sick and often destitute victims of the Industrial School System. The Glin Project Committee is hopeful that Mr. Justice Sean Ryan will agree to unveil the Monument at this time.
For more information, please contact Tom Hayes: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The department of history at University Of Limerick has expressed interest in a rare collection of west Limerick historical documents dating from as early as 1875. The archives, which document the students of Glin Industrial School for Boys, came into the possession of Tom Wall, author of The Last Boy in Glin Industrial School, who is the last surviving pupil to live in Limerick.
Dr Vincent O’Connell of UL, who specialises in public history and cultural heritage in 20th-century Ireland, has acknowledged the outstanding merit of the collection, stating that “one of the aims of public history must be to affect change in the present”.
Dr O’Connell says: “In devoting attention to such important documents as those being donated to the University of Limerick by Tom Wall, we not only have an opportunity to shine a light into the darkest corners of our country’s recent past, but we may also ignite awareness of the treatment of the most vulnerable in our society in the present.”
In 1952, Wall was the last child to be put into Glin Industrial School for Boys at three years of age. More than 60 years later, he is looking to preserve what remains of a much forgotten part of Irish history.
“I am very glad I’ve lived to see the day where this can be talked about out in the open the way it should be,” Wall says. “I want these documents to be preserved and showcased so that we can educate people about what happened and what it was like to live in those institutions.”
Wall wants to hand over the documents to UL despite the possible enactment of a 100-year embargo. He discovered the collection at the industrial school in 1973. “At the time I was looking for my own file, which was meant to be burned,” he says. He describes the 2,000 documents he saw that day as being “just a fraction” of what had existed before. “They wanted everything destroyed,” he says. “They didn’t want anything with a connection to the place surviving, so I took these and put them in my attic, should they be needed in the future for people to learn from history.”
Wall has close to 900 documents but he would like to have them archived for research and educational purposes. The documents include roll books, as well as individual records of student behaviour and punishment, health and family history.
He also has photographs of “parties” that were thrown on occasions where outside visitors were allowed into the school. “These parties were all staged,” he says. “All the boys were told to look happy and some are even wearing party hats. We were warned not to eat all the fancy food because outsiders might have realised how hungry we were.”
Glin Industrial School was the second largest of its kind for senior boys in Ireland. It was run by the Christian Brothers but, according to Wall, it was kept a “national secret” until the Ryan report in May 2009.
“The whole thing had always been under lock and key, scrutinised by the Christian Brothers. It wasn’t until Justice Ryan uncovered information that revealed what was going on that it was given any attention, but we were terrified it would just be another big cover up.”
Wall, who says he has “never left Glin”, is determined to have these archives brought into the public eye due to an increased amount of recent interest in the history of industrial schools.
“A lot of these people never spoke to anyone about what happened, they didn’t want to, they couldn’t deal with it or bring it all up again.”
He explains how the relatives of some of the victims are now in regular contact with him from as far away as Australia and Canada. “It’s only now that it’s coming into the public interest again as so many younger generations are asking questions and looking for answers. They want to know why 35,000 children were locked away in these schools.”
Wall, who has recorded his personal memoirs of the time in his book , admits that some people find his story disturbing but he believes it is a storythat needs to be told. “I couldn’t see the point in writing this book without including the whole truth,” he says. “We never wanted compensation, all we wanted was the truth to be told and for it to be believed.”
e says it was “virtually impossible” to seek justice for the abuse to which he was e was subjected. “I never got an apology. We were told we were exaggerating.”
Ken Bergin, head of the special collections department at the Glucksman Library at UL, says the library is in negotiation with Wall about his collection of papers. Bergin says the library is offering to assess, clean and preserve this “important collection” with the aim of making it available to researchers.
Access to the archive will be determined by data protection legislation protecting the rights of those individuals who feature in the papers.
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Hundreds of Chilean Catholics all dressed in black packed into a church in Osorno last weekend, shouting, singing protest hymns and waving white handkerchiefs as a gesture of disdain, demanding cancellation of the ordination of a bishop accused of having covered up child sex abuse.
One of the underlying reasons for the outburst had to do with a controversy over abortion which has been dominating the news in Chile.
On Saturday, ushers were needed to protect Bishop Juan Barros from jostling by the angry congregation as he made his way back along the central aisle following the ceremony. Outside, police succeeded in manhandling him safely to his car.
The protesters accused Bishop Barros of having thwarted investigations into Fr Fernando Karadima, one of the best-known and most respected priests in Chile until serious allegations emerged against him 10 years ago.
In February 2011, the Vatican found Karadima, then 81, guilty of a litany of sins against children and ordered him to spend the remainder of his days in “penitence and prayer” in a monastery in Santiago.
The following month, a court dismissed criminal charges based on the same evidence, holding the prosecution had run out of time.
Karadima had served for many years in a seminary and had acted as a mentor to many younger priests, including Barros.
Some victims now accuse Barros of protecting Karadima during his career as an abuser and afterwards. One, Juan Carlos Cruz, has claimed he saw Barros tearing up letters sent by victims to the Chilean church authorities describing experiences at the hands of Karadima.
Letter to Vatican
The Karadima case has dismayed Chilean Catholics at all levels. No other bishops attended the Osorno ceremony, nor any representative of the local authority. Thirty diocesan priests and deacons signed a letter of protest to the Vatican.
Fr Alex Vigueras, provincial superior of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, told journalists the appointment “has left us perplexed . . . His naming is not in accordance with the zero tolerance that the church wants to install.”
Writers in Catholic newspapers have been sharply critical of Pope Francis for failing to intervene to prevent the appointment.
Polls show a large majority of Chileans strongly hostile to the way the church has handled the affair. This, many in the church fear, may have subtracted from its moral authority in striving to combat a proposed law on abortion.
On Tuesday of last week, a draft law was introduced in congress which would permit abortion in three circumstances: when the pregnancy has arisen from rape; where the woman’s life is at risk; and in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.
The measure was among election pledges made by president Michelle Bachelet in 2013.
Abortion was legalised in Chile in 1931. But the permissive law was overturned by a constitutional amendment during the last days of the fascist regime of Augusto Pinochet.
Chilean law now sets down that a “right to life” begins at conception. Chile remains one of six Latin American countries with no-exception bans. (The others are El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.) Women in Chile who seek abortions risk imprisonment.
However, the balance of opinion appears to have shifted significantly in recent years. A poll last month suggested 71 per cent for Bachelet’s proposal, with 19 per cent supporting abortion when this is the woman’s choice.
Pro-choice activists seem serene. Monica Arango, Latin America director of the Centre for Reproductive Rights, professes herself “positive” the (extremely limited, if truth be told) measure will go through congress.
The biggest Chilean pro-life group, Project Hope, on the other hand, maintains, “The whole project is just a charade to legalise all forms of abortion.”
The Chilean bishops have called on the laity to take the lead in trying to turn the tide of opinion towards the pro-life side. Cynics might ascribe their reticence to a realisation that the continuing spate of sex abuse cases “of which the Karadima/Barros imbroglio is merely the most prominent” has robbed them of any capacity for moral leadership. Thus, on television and in newspapers, the anti-choice argument is increasingly put not by direct representatives of the church but by spokespersons for conservative lay organisations.
The child abuse issue touches on the credibility of the church in relation to abortion. There is much in Chile Irish people will recognise. Contrary to the way it sometimes feels, we are not alone.
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Australian archbishop charged with concealing child abuse
Tuesday 17 March 2015 16.16
The Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide has been charged with concealing child sex abuse and has taken leave from his high-level Australian position to fight the allegation.
Philip Wilson was charged by New South Wales Police in relation to an offence allegedly committed during the 1970s by known-paedophile priest Jim Fletcher, now dead, when both men worked at a diocese near Newcastle, north of Sydney.
Local media said the 64-year-old is thought to be the most senior Catholic official in the world to face charges of this nature, and if sentenced could face up to two years behind bars.
The charge is the work of Strike Force Lantle, which since 2010 has investigated claims of child abuse concealment by former and current clergy attached to the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese of the Catholic Church.
Archbishop Wilson issued a statement acknowledging the developments.
"I am disappointed to have been notified by the NSW Police that it has decided to file a charge in respect of this matter," he said, adding that he would "vigorously defend" his innocence.
"I intend to take some leave to consult with a wide range of people in response to the information I have received today," he said.
A victim of Fletcher, Peter Gogarty, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation he felt overwhelming relief that charges had been laid.
"I think it's a very, very important day for Australia, that we've now had someone in such a high position charged," he said.
"I hasten to add, everyone in this country is entitled to the presumption of innocence, but... the fact that our legal system has decided to charge someone this senior is enormously significant."
The matter is listed for mention in court on 30 April.
The charges come as Australia is in the midst of a nationwide investigation into claims of paedophilia in institutions such as religious organisations, schools and state care.
It was established by former prime minister Julia Gillard in 2013 after more than a decade of pressure and has heard damaging allegations of child abuse involving churches, orphanages, schools and other groups dating back decades.
Archbishop Wilson has given evidence to the royal commission and he said this was indicative of his efforts to adopt "best-practice child protection measures which I have pioneered since becoming a bishop".
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Judgment reserved in woman’s abuse case
Judgment has been reserved in a Supreme Court case where a woman, who suffered institutional abuse while in state care as a child, was refused in her application for redress because she was too late.
The refusal was challenged yesterday at the Supreme Court, during a historic first sitting in Cork. The woman’s identity cannot be published due to an allegation of sexual abuse.
Her senior counsel Niamh Hyland said the 33-year-old applied to the Residential Institutions Redress Board for compensation but the application was refused on grounds it was too late.
This decision was challenged at the High Court by way of judicial review but again it was unsuccessful.
Ms Hyland said that Mr Justice Gerard Hogan in the High Court indicated he would have found in favour of the appellant but for the extent of previous High Court cases which ruled against the type of argument being advanced by the applicant.
Ms Hyland yesterday made a series of submissions to the five-judge panel led by Mrs Justice Susan Denham, arguing that the statute under which the redress board was established allowed for a late appeal in exceptional circumstances.
Frank Callanan SC, for the board, said over 80% of late applications had been allowed and the board had discretion in the matter.
He said the redress scheme had been heavily promoted and advertised through the media and the woman at the centre of yesterday’s case was effectively saying she had absolutely no recollection of ever having heard anything about it, and that was why she was late in making her application.
Mr Justice Frank Clarke asked Ms Hyland SC if she was claiming the board was effectively saying to the woman, no matter how meritorious her case, she could not apply because she was late. Ms Hyland said that was her argument.
She submitted there was manifest error in the board’s reasoning.
Ms Hyland submitted the extensive promotion of the scheme coupled with the fact the woman failed to know anything about it, until it was too late, was itself an exceptional circumstance.
Arguing about the publicity given to the existence of the redress board, Ms Hyland said: “The board rely on this as a factor in their favour. We say it is a factor in our favour.”
Summing up her case Ms Hyland said: “Because of the nature of the function of the board the idea that they keep people out because they came late to the knowledge of the scheme is not in keeping with the statue.”
Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said the statute erred on the side of generosity in that it did not seek to limit the numbers who could be compensated and also by providing for late applications in exceptional circumstances. One of the key issues the five judges have to determine is if the woman satisfies the grounds for the term “exceptional”.
The judges, who also include Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman and Mr Justice Peter Charleton, may consider her lack of knowledge of the redress board until it was too late as a reason for considering her an exceptional case.
Mrs Justice Denham reserved judgment in the case.
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75 years: Abuse files to be secret
A child abuse survivor has criticised the Government’s decision to lock the personal witness statements victims gave to state investigations away for 75 years as “very extreme” and “odd”.
Andrew Madden made the remarks after the Cabinet confirmed it is to withhold the evidence for privacy and legal advice reasons.
The decision not to make the files publicly available is based on recommendations in the Ryan report. It was put forward yesterday by Jan O’ Sullivan, the education minister, and will see the files withheld for almost twice as long as State papers are normally kept.
The Labour TD is now due to draft legislation based on the decision to keep the records private for 75 years, although she has stressed she is open to making some of the information more readily available if reasons are given.
Mr Madden told the Irish Examiner last night that he does not understand why the information would not be released until 2090 as the facilities involved are indemnified from legal action.
He also questioned why the Government believes that those who spoke to the Ryan report about their personal experiences would be against making the information public, as they have previously criticised arguments that if they accepted a settlement they could not speak about what happened.
“It is really a personal decision, but 75 years is a lot of time to not publish this. I find it quite odd that the records would be withheld for this long,” he said.
In a statement last night, a spokesperson for Ms O’Sullivan said the move is based on the Ryan report recommendations. “Certain records of archival value will be sealed for 75 years from this year.
“The legislation will relate to records held by Commission to Inquiry into Child Abuse, Residential Institutions Redress Board and the Residential Institutions Review Committee,” said the spokesperson.
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