Nuns issue abuse apology
A nun who campaigns for social justice today apologised to children who were abused while under the care of the Sisters of Charity.
Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, a member of the religious order criticised in the devastating Ryan report, said members were ashamed, shocked and horrified by the physical and sexual abuse of children at its facilities.
She told a conference in Dublin Castle the report laid bare the appalling manner in which the most vulnerable children were treated in institutions run by congregations over the past 50 years.
“We must ensure that wide-scale and systematic abuse of children does not happen again in this country,” she said.
“Abuse happens when power is vested in individuals and institutions who are unaccountable.”
The Ryan report documented decades of sexual, physical and emotional torture inflicted on thousands of children in orphanages, industrial and reformatory schools all over the country.
It outlined severe physical and emotional abuse over many years at two of the order’s institutions, St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s in Kilkenny.
“Within St Joseph’s, there was also sexual abuse, including where 13 boys were brutally abused, sexually and physically by two men employed by the Religious Sisters of Charity as childcare workers who turned out to be cruel and ferocious paedophiles,” said Sr Stan.
“I am desperately sad and sorry that these abuses took place and that these heinous crimes were committed."
“All over the country, children entrusted to the care of religious congregations, ours included, suffered enormously in a sickening abuse of power and position and a scandalous exploitation of vulnerability, for which there is no excuse.”
Sr Stan said the order had acknowledged the hurt caused and planned to do everything in its power to make reparation for the harm done, to alleviate the pain and suffering of victims and to restore, as far as is possible, the dignity that was taken from them as children.
“This includes facing our financial responsibilities in a generous spirit and with an open heart,” she continued.
The campaigner also criticised the current childcare system, highlighting a lack of out-of-hours social work service for children in need and why up to 6,500 child protection cases have not been allocated a social worker.
“One of the most damning indications of our lack of concern about the welfare of children is the fact that 454 migrant children, that’s equivalent to an entire school full of children, have gone missing from the care of the State since 2000, with barely a ripple of disquiet in the community,” she continued.
“We know this is happening and we don’t care. How can we say without blushing that we are determined to learn lessons from the Ryan report and are determined to protect and cherish children in this country when we know they are suffering now?"
“When we allow these outrages to occur without protest we, as a society, are complicit in the suffering of these children,” she added.
President Mary McAleese is due to address the conference later today.