Government apologises for failings

 

The Government has said it apologises "without reservation or equivocation" for failures by State agencies in dealing with the issue of clerical child abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the Government described as "shocking" the findings of today's report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin and said it raises "the most fundamental questions" for authorities in the Catholic Church.

The report "clearly" shows that "a systemic, calculated perversion of power and trust was visited on helpless and innocent children in the Archdiocese" over a 30-year period, the statement said.

It called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice and said the people of Ireland "must know that this can never happen again."

It said there was "no doubt" that clerical child sexual abuse "was tolerated and covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Church authorities", adding that the focus of those authorities "was on the avoidance of scandal for the Church and the preservation of the good name, status and assets of the institution, rather than on the welfare of children."

The Government said it believed it "will be a matter of profound regret to Irish people that the deference which so many people traditionally showed to their Church was, insofar as the area of child abuse was concerned, entirely misplaced and had the effect of further abusing the victims."

"Whatever the historical and societal reasons for this, the Government, on behalf of the State, apologises, without reservation or equivocation, for failures by the agencies of the State in dealing with this issue."

It added that it was determined there will be "no hiding place" for those who break the law, whatever their status.

"The people who committed these abominable crimes should pay for them," it said.

In conclusion, it said it must ensure that all institutions are subject to the laws of the State.

"Central to those laws must be the protection of children. It may be cold comfort to the victims of abuse in the past, but as a Government we pledge, on behalf of the Irish people, that we will do whatever is necessary to make sure that the dark days of sexual abuse of children, compounded by cover up and complicity, are over for good."

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Barry Andrews has been asked to consider the report with a view to establishing what actions are necessary in addition to the 99 action points contained in the Ryan report Implementation Plan.