83% angry at State's attitude in past to child abuse, says report


NEW RESEARCH on attitudes towards institutional child abuse indicate that the vast majority of Irish people are angry that wider society did not do enough to protect children from abuse.

A study to be published today will show that 84 per cent of people feel society should have done more to prevent abuse in the past.

There is also widespread anger that the State did not do enough to help (83 per cent agree), while significant numbers say they find the subject too overwhelming and do not know what to think.

The polling research by Red C accompanies a major study which explores why institutional abuse was allowed to take place and how it might be prevented in the future.

In Plain Sightby social historian Dr Carole Holohan is based on the four inquiries into clerical sex abuse – the Ferns, Ryan, Murphy and Cloyne reports. It is expected to conclude that failures in law, public policies, government and religious organisations meant that vulnerable children were not protected.

The silence of sections of society who had knowledge or suspicion of ill-treatment of children contributed to abuse continuing over a period of decades.

The study also suggests that some of the factors which allowed abuse to take place in the past are still a feature of society.

They include a lack of accountability in State bodies responsible for child protection and the failure of the justice system to bring to book those who knew what was going on.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald is due to launch the report at a conference organised by Amnesty International Ireland in Dublin this morning.

The polling data also gives an insight into attitudes towards vulnerable children in Ireland today.

Half of people believe that wider society is prejudiced against children in the care of the State today.