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History > 2009 > Ireland / Northern Ireland (II)



Gerald Scarfe

May 24 2009

Sunday Times

Jesus Blesses Little Children

Mt. 19.13-15 · Lk. 18.15-17

13 ¶ And they brought young children to him,

that he should touch them;

and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.


14 But when Jesus saw it,

he was much displeased, and said unto them,

Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not;

for of such is the kingdom of God.


15 Verily I say unto you,

Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child,

he shall not enter therein. Mt. 18.3


16 And he took them up in his arms,

put his hands upon them, and blessed them.


The Holy Bible: King James Version
















NIreland Church Harbors

Victims of Racist Attacks


June 17, 2009
Filed at 4:39 a.m. ET
The New York Times


BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) -- More than a 100 Romanian immigrants were taking refuge Wednesday after fleeing their Belfast homes and spending the night in a church following racist attacks.

Northern Ireland police helped around 20 families leave their homes Tuesday night for the Belfast church, where they spent the night. On Wednesday, they were taken to a roomier community center.

Some of the immigrants' homes had been attacked, and earlier in the week there was an attack on an anti-racism rally in support of immigrants. Bottles were hurled and people made Nazi salutes at those taking part in the rally.

The pastor of the church where the families took shelter, Malcolm Morgan, told GMTV Wednesday he believed a ''small group of racist thugs'' were behind the attacks.

Those taking shelter included a 5-day-old baby. Some of the families said they planned to return to Romania following their ordeal.

Belfast Mayor Naomi Long condemned the attacks.

''Belfast, and indeed Northern Ireland as a whole, is changing and we are making great strides towards a bright and shared future. We cannot let a small minority of people detract from that, or allow them to drive people from their homes,'' she said.

    NIreland Church Harbors Victims of Racist Attacks, NYT, 17.6.2009,






Archbishop Slams

Irish Catholic Orders Over Abuse


May 25, 2009
Filed at 8:04 a.m. ET
The New York Times

DUBLIN (AP) -- Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin slammed Irish Catholic orders Monday for concealing their culpability in decades of child abuse and said they needed to come up with much more money to compensate victims.

The comments from Martin, a veteran Vatican diplomat, were the harshest yet by a Roman Catholic leader following last week's report detailing widespread abuse in scores of church-run industrial schools from the 1930s to 1990s.

Martin said the nuns and Catholic brothers who ran the workhouse-style schools must drop their refusal to renegotiate an intensely criticized 2002 agreement with the Irish government over compensation for victims.

The orders seven years ago agreed to pay euro128 million ($175 million) to the government to be protected from victims' civil lawsuits. In return, the government expects to pay approximately 13,800 victims of physical, sexual and mental abuse and their lawyers more than euro1.1 billion ($1.5 billion).

All those who accept the state settlements, which average euro65,000 ($90,000), must waive their right to sue both the church and government. Their abusers' identities also are kept secret.

Scores of other alleged victims have refused the offer and sued church and state authorities, with mixed results.

The archbishop -- whose archdiocese contains more than 1 million of the island's 4 million Catholics -- said in an Irish Times column that the church in Ireland has lost credibility because of its weak response to 15 years of revelations of chronic child abuse within its ranks.

Martin said it was incomprehensible why other church leaders remained ''in denial'' following a nine-year investigation by a child abuse commission, which published its devastating 2,600-page report last Wednesday.

He said the report documented beyond any doubt ''church institutions where children were placed in the care of people with practically no morals.'' The last of those schools for Ireland's poorest children closed more than a decade ago.

The archbishop accused the orders of falling short even on the amount promised to the government. He said the church's failure to complete transfers of cash, property and land worth at least euro128 million over the past seven years ''is stunning.''

''There may have been legal difficulties, but they are really a poor excuse after so many years,'' he wrote.

Ireland's most senior leader, Cardinal Sean Brady, later issued a more muted appeal to the orders to give more, saying the 2002 agreement ''should be revisited.''

The cardinal -- who does not have the power to force the orders to pay more -- said he and other Irish church leaders expected to meet soon in Rome with Pope Benedict XVI to discuss the scandal. No date has been confirmed.

The Conference of Religious in Ireland, the umbrella body for the church's orders of Catholic brothers and nuns, declined to respond to the comments of Martin and Brady.

Last week the conference, which represents all 18 orders that ran industrial schools, said none intended to make more financial contributions. That provoked fury from victims and some politicians, but not the government.

The government says it has received about euro62 million in cash and church-funded counseling services for abuse victims, while the outstanding euro66 million was to come from the receipt of 64 church properties.

Analysis by independent experts indicates that the offered properties are worth much less today than euro66 million. Ireland's 2008 property market collapse and plunge into recession have slashed values by 25 percent to 50 percent.

Martin said the religious orders must identify ''creative ways'' to redeem their reputations.

''In many ways, it is your last chance to render honor to charismatic founders and to so many good members of your congregations who feel tarnished,'' he said.

The Dublin-born Martin, 64, became the church's leader in Dublin in 2004 with a mission to handle the fallout from sex-abuse scandals. Last month he warned Dublin's Catholic faithful they will be shocked and outraged when the next investigation into clerical sex abuse is published this summer.

That Justice Department-commissioned probe seeks to detail how hundreds of priests molested and raped children in Dublin from the 1940s onward while church and state agencies failed to report, punish or stop the abuse.

''It will not be easy reading,'' Martin wrote. ''Let the truth, however, come out.''


On the Net:

Ireland's compensation board for abuse victims, http://www.rirb.ie/

Abuse report, http://www.childabusecommission.ie/rpt/

    Archbishop Slams Irish Catholic Orders Over Abuse, NYT, 25.5.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/05/25/world/AP-EU-Ireland-Catholic-Abuse.html






Irish State

'colluded with religious authorities

to hide child abuse',

report says


May 20, 2009
From Times Online
David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent


The Irish State colluded with the religious authorities to cover up child abuse that was "endemic" in Catholic-run schools and care homes for 70 years, a devastating report concluded today.

The Child Abuse Commission catalogued sexual, physical and emotional abuse inflicted on 35,000 disadvantaged, neglected and abandoned children by both religious and lay staff over the last 70 years.

The long-awaited report of the decade-long inquiry was launched today amid controversy and recrimination, when victims were barred from a Dublin venue and police were called.

Angry exchanges took place between Commission staff and victims of abuse, who complain that no abusers will be prosecuted as a result of the inquiry.

The inquiry chairman, Justice Sean Ryan, read a short statement and refused to take questions at a press conference. His predecessor, Justice Mary Laffoy, resigned in 2003 in protest at the lack of co-operation from some state bodies.

John Walsh, an abuse victim, called the report a hatchet job that left open wounds gaping.

“The little comfort we have is the knowledge that it vindicated the victims who were raped and sexually abused,” said Mr Walsh, of the leading campaign group Irish Survivors of Child Abuse (Soca).

“I’m very angry, very bitter, and feel cheated and deceived. I would have never opened my wounds if I’d known this was going to be the end result.

“It has devastated me and will devastate most victims because there is no criminal proceedings and no accountability whatsoever.”

Judge Ryan concluded that when confronted with evidence of sex abuse, religious authorities responded by transferring the sex offenders to another location, where in many instances they were free to abuse again.

The report found: "The risk (to children) was seen by the congregations in terms of the potential scandal and bad publicity should the abuse be disclosed...

"There was evidence that such men took up teaching positions sometimes within days of receiving dispensations because of serious allegations or admissions of sexual abuse. The safety of children in general was not a consideration."

Institutions run by religious orders, including industrial and reform schools, institutions for the disabled, orphanages and ordinary day schools have been examined by the Commission over the past nine years.

Sexual abuse was endemic in boys’ schools, while in girls’ schools children were subjected to predatory abuse by male employees, visitors and while on outside placements.

Abuse was rarely reported to the State authorities but on the rare occasion the Department of Education was informed, it colluded with the religious orders in the culture of silence.

The Department generally dismissed or ignored sexual abuse complaints and never brought them to the attention of the Garda.

"At best, the abusers were moved but nothing was done about the harm done to the child. At worst, the child was blamed and seen as corrupted by the sexual activity, and was punished severely," the report stated.

Children were so badly neglected, survivors spoke of scavenging for food from waste bins and animal feed.

Unsupervised bullying in boys’ schools often left smaller, weaker children without food.

Accommodation was cold, spartan and bleak while children were often left in soiled, wet work clothes after being forced to toil for long hours outdoors in farms, the report found.

While the names of alleged individual perpetrators have not been published - except for those already convicted by the court - the inquiry produced specific findings against 216 facilities.

The Sisters of Mercy and Christian Brothers, which ran the largest number of children’s institutions, were among the long list of orders investigated.

While the chairman emphasised the willingness of some religious orders to co-operate, the 3,500-page report, running to five volumes, makes for relentlessly grim reading, chronicling the shocking conditions under which the children were held, many from infancy until reaching adulthood.

One victims' group said that it hoped the report would validate the long campaign for many to have their stories believed, and would highlight "an absolutely disgraceful episode in Irish history – we should all hang our heads in shame".

    Irish State 'colluded with religious authorities to hide child abuse', report says, Ts, 20.5.2009, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6328015.ece






Children suffered abuse of many types, both physical and emotional


May 20, 2009
From The Times
Case study: David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent


The life into which Patrick Walsh was born seems unimaginable in modern Ireland. “Hunger was a constant companion, we were child slaves,” he told The Times.

Mr Walsh’s story would seem straight out of a Dickens novel, yet it began as recently as 1955. “It was a different age then – you would have to compare it to Iran. Ireland was a theocratic state.”

He was two years old when he was taken to court with his two elder brothers aged 3 and 4 and a sister of six months. Their crime: their mother was in an unhappy marriage and had left her husband.

“My father denounced her because she wanted a divorce, which was illegal. We were put in the dock, charged and sentenced for ‘having a parent who does not exercise proper guardianship’.”

It was legislation introduced by Eamon de Valera in 1941 that trapped Mr Walsh and his siblings in a nightmare system until he turned 16. In law, either parent could have a child locked up but, to recover them, both parents had to make joint petition - a task made impossible by his parents’ irrevocable break.

In fact, to make matters worse, that notorious clause was struck out by the Supreme Court in Ireland in 1955. Mr Walsh has only discovered in recent years, through the Freedom of Information Act, that his mother was lied to by the Government of the day.

“For years we wouldn’t believe that she had tried to get us out, but she made numerous attempts and was told it was impossible. She had to go back to her husband if she wanted her children. “She was viewed as the guilty party by Church and State.”

Throughout his incarceration he saw his mother just once, in 1959. The next time was in 1966 when, as a clarinettist in the famous Artane Boys Band, she came to see him play in Blackpool.

“Because we were abroad, the rules were relaxed. I remember seeing this woman staring up at me from the audience, smiling. It sent a cold shiver up my spine and I asked my brother, who was also in the band, who was the woman who stared so intensely at us. After the concert we were introduced backstage.”

Contact remained highly restricted once back in Ireland. “She sent me a watch and I remember a Christian Brother coming up to me and handing me a package that had been opened and just saying, ‘This is for you’. “All post was opened and read.”

Mr Walsh’s memories of his 14 years in the “industrial school” system are grim. “There was abuse of many different types, physical and emotional. The constant hunger was par for the course but the worst was the physical aspect, the gratuitous violence of the Christian Brothers.

“They were men of real violence. When I arrived in Artane in 1963 there were 450 boys and it had a stench of violence about it. The home was also used as a detention centre for young offenders, so we were preyed upon not just by the Brothers but by feral gangs.

“The Government criminalised us, mixing innocents with some really hardened criminal types.”

With reluctance he revealed that he had also been sexually abused twice by a specific individual Christian Brother.

Mr Walsh described the system as a “marriage of convenience between Church and State: “The Church received capitation grants, which were the life-blood of the religious orders, and the children were used as the means to fill their pockets with cash. I learnt in later years that Artane would get a cheque, say for £10,000, every month from the Government.

“Of that Artane would send £8,000 to Rome. As a consequence we were badly fed and we worked 12-hour days in the fields and workshops. I was put to work in the shoe shop.”

At the age of 16, he was finally free to leave. “The system was being wound down by then and I remember, just before I left, talking to a man in the shoe shop who had worked there for 44 years and had just been made redundant.

“He said to me, ‘Listen son, we’ve just been told that all this belongs to the past, that we’re joining the Common Market and none of this is part of that bright future’. I was given ten shillings and told to go on my way.”

He left immediately for England. “It was the route for many of us, because in the eyes of people in Ireland we were tainted by where we had been. For others the memories were just too painful to endure.”

Mr Walsh built a new life in London, working in the City. “I made my way but many hundreds more fell along the way.”

Tom Hayes was committed at the age of 2 because he was born out of wedlock. He said: “I was told my mother had died when I was born but in fact she went to England and made a new life. I didn’t discover the truth until 2003.

“In my first institution, run by the Sisters of Mercy, it wasn’t too bad, apart from the hunger, cold and fear of punishment.

“But it was when I was moved to Glin, in Limerick, that I joined a system where most of the children came from a background of petty crime, and they made life for those of us who were orphans a living hell.

“Sexual abuse took place on a large scale, operated by gangs who had the protection of the Christian Brothers. After I complained to a priest outside the school about it, I was threatened with being sent to a reformatory school in Letterfrack which had an even more notorious reputation.

“It was a particularly vicious place without any sense of accountability.”

Both men said they hoped that the report would bring out the whole truth. Mr Walsh added: “We’ve had apologies from the State and some of the religious Orders but never from the hierarchy, the leaders of the Catholic Church.

“Ultimately the bishops, the Government and the cardinals in the Vatican knew what was going on. It’s an opportunity for the hierarchy to make a fulsome apology for their failure to put an end to the suffering of the children.”

    Children suffered abuse of many types, both physical and emotional, Ts, 20.5.2009, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article6326754.ece