Dublin Lord Mayor opens book of solidarity for abused

 

There were emotional scenes at the Mansion House in Dublin today as members of the public queued to sign a book of solidarity for the victims of child abuse in institutions.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Fine Gael leader were among the thousands of people who arrived to sign the book this afternoon.

One woman approached Mr Kenny as he went to sign the book and broke down in tears as she recounted her story of abuse.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Ebhlin Byrne said she had been approached in recent days by members of the public wishing to express their solidarity with those who had fallen victim to sexual and physical abuse in State institutions as children.

The report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse published this week outlined a horrific litany of physical and sexual abuse against children in institutions run by a number of religious orders over several decades, up to the late 1960s.

“As a mother, and somebody who has worked with children all my life, I find it difficult to express the grief I feel for childhoods lost. Nothing I say or do can restore those lost lives of innocence,” Ms Byrne said today.

Ms Byrne said she had been approached throughout Dublin by people wishing to express their solidarity with the men and women who must this week be finding old wounds reopened and buried pain re-awakened.

The move comes as the Government faces renewed pressure from the two main Opposition parties to reopen the 2002 agreement which capped at €127 million the contribution of religious orders to the State compensation scheme for victims of abuse.

It came as the Conference of Religious in Ireland (Cori), which negotiated the controversial deal on behalf of 18 congregations, last night said that none of the orders planned to revisit the deal. A spokesman for the umbrella body which represents over 80 religious congregations on the island of Ireland, said last night that “as far as we are aware none of the congregations concerned plan to revisit the terms of the agreement made in good faith’’.

Fine Gael and the Labour Party separately said yesterday that it was incumbent on the State to ensure the religious congregations pay more. The overall cost of the scheme is expected to surpass €1.3 billion, ten times the contribution made by the religious orders.

The former leader of the Labour Party Pat Rabbitte said that if his party was returned to government it would do everything in its power to “probe the validity” of the deal.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said that if he were to become taoiseach he would examine the possibility of reopening negotiations.

Mr Rabbitte, speaking to RTÉ yesterday, sharply attacked the role played by the former minister for education Michael Woods in reaching the agreement. “It was a stroke in the worst meaning of that term in Irish politics,” he said. “Michael Woods was sent out by Bertie Ahern in his last day in office to conclude this deal with the religious congregations.

The Mansion House opened at 10.30am and will remain open until 5pm on Saturday and from 11am until 4pm on Sunday to allow people to express their support for the victims of abuse by signing a book of solidarity.

“I invite the people of Dublin to come here over the weekend to show their support for those affected.”

The Government will hold a special Cabinet meeting next Tuesday to consider the report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

It will be followed by a two-day debated in the Dáil.