Government accused of 'hypocrisy'

 

Fine Gael has accused the Government of "hypocrisy" in relation to their comments on the report of the investigation into the handling of child sex abuse allegations in the Dublin Archdiocese.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern and Minister for Children Barry Andrews were accused of "staggering hypocrisy" by Fine Gael children's spokesman Alan Shatter.

“Without doubt those in a position of authority within the church and those who perpetrated abuse deserve every condemnation and it is right that we react with horror to the revelations contained in the report," Mr Shatter said.

"However, we should not lose sight of the fact that the State, and State agencies are still failing to provide children the protection to which they are entitled. We should not forget that Fianna Fáil-led Governments have been in office for 20 out of the last 22 years and that it is Fianna Fáil in Government who are responsible for our currently dysfunctional childcare and protection system."

Mr Shatter said that in the year ending December 31st, 2008, out of 24,668 reports of children at risk made to the HSE, only 15,364 were assessed and 9,304 reports of children at risk were "neither assessed nor investigated".

"Since the year 2000 over 20 children under the care of health boards and/or the HSE have died; no statutory independent review system of deaths of children in care exists despite being called for by both Fine Gael and the Children’s Ombudsman."

Mr Shatter said the "obsessive secrecy and the cover-up mentality documented and criticised in today’s report applicable to the church's dealings with allegations of sexual abuse equally today applies to the approach taken by the HSE and the Department for Children to failures in our child protection services."

He noted Mr Andrews' statement that “access to contemporaneous and accurate information relating to allegations of abuse was patently absent” during the period under investigation by the Murphy commission.

"However, he failed to acknowledge that currently neither the Department for Children nor the HSE have available to them “contemporaneous and accurate information relating to allegations of child abuse," Mr Shatter added.

“Both the general public and those of us in public life are entitled to be appalled by the revelations contained in the Murphy commission report.

"However, no Government minister should be permitted to simply ride the wave of outrage and to ignore the current failings of our child protection services and the direct responsibility of the present Government and its immediate predecessors for those failures."

Green Party justice spokesman Ciaran Cuffe said it "beggars belief" that no Archbishop reported child sexual abuse to the Garda throughout the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s", as stated in the Murphy report.

“The Catholic church must question its whole approach to sexuality in the light of Judge [Yvonne] Murphy’s report."

“At a time when members of the Catholic Church hierarchy are actively campaigning against the Civil Partnership Bill being brought before the Dáil next week, there must be a pause for reflection within the Catholic Church, and a more concerted effort to protect the vulnerable.”