'Everything I wanted to hear for years,' says victim


REACTION:REACTION FROM victims of clerical sex abuse and their representatives to the Taoiseach’s Wednesday Dáil address has been very positive.

Marie Collins, who was abused as a young girl by Fr Paul McGennis, said last night that “Enda Kenny’s excellent speech . . . said everything I have wanted to hear our Government say for many years”.

She said that “finally the message has been sent to the leaders of the Catholic Church, both in Ireland and the Vatican, that they must respect the people and the laws of this country. This must now be followed up with full implementation of the new child protection laws and a thorough investigation of all dioceses.”

Andrew Madden, who was the first clerical child abuse victim to go public in Ireland, was in the Dáil public gallery for the Cloyne debate on Wednesday when the Taoiseach delivered his address. It was “good to be there for it”, he said.

The address’s “content and tone was a welcome change from the deferential drivel of his predecessors”, he said.

“It was very comforting to hear the duly-elected leader reflecting the views not only of the abused but of the wider public as well, and that he got across our understanding that abuse is not an Irish problem but a Vatican problem.

“The Irish people appreciate that it goes right to the heart of the Vatican. That doesn’t excuse the Irish bishops.”

He said the address “put down a marker on Ireland’s profile as a Catholic country. It is now a proper republic and no longer ‘Magdalene Ireland’ or ‘Industrial School Ireland’.”

He also said Government actions on the Children First guidelines, the appointment of a new Department of Children and of Minister Frances Fitzgerald, and comments by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter were “all very positive...all very welcome”.

John Kelly of Irish Soca (Survivors of Child Abuse) found the Taoiseach’s address “very encouraging...very heartening that the Government should respond in such a robust way”.

It was “needed”. He felt that should the Vatican continue to not be co-operative where the State was concerned “they should be sent packing as if they were spying”.

Maeve Lewis of the One in Four group was “very surprised at the strength” of the address, and “absolutely delighted that an Irish Taoiseach had the guts to stand up and clearly state that the laws of Ireland supersede those of any organisation or other state”.

Abuse survivors had been phoning One in Four “in huge numbers feeling, probably, for the first time, protected”.

“They are feeling at last that they are full citizens of this country,” she said.