Judge says response to findings 'will say a lot about present situation'

 

JUST AS the report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse said a lot about our past, how we responded to those findings “will say a lot about the present situation”, Mr Justice Seán Ryan, chairman of the commission, told the Humbert Summer School.

In his first public appearance since the publication of the report, he made the comment after he had been presented with a special award by Nobel laureate John Hume, patron of the school.

Mr Justice Ryan acknowledged “the courage and fortitude” of former residents of institutions investigated by the commission and who had given evidence before it. Through “their tenacity . . . events which had been shrouded in darkness for so long” had been brought to light, he said.

He accepted the award “with great humility and conscious of the enormous contribution of colleagues on the commission”.

The commission’s work was there to be seen and analysed – it was for others to discuss its implications, he said.

Special awards were also presented by Mr Hume to three representatives of former residents of institutions investigated by the Ryan commission. The recipients were Michael O’Brien of the Right to Peace group, Tom Hayes of the Alliance group, and Dolores Rooney of Soca UK and Ireland.

Michael O’Brien said he was accepting the award on behalf of everyone who as a child went through the institutions.

“Justice Seán Ryan, today I bow to you and I thank you for the momentous work you and your team have done,” he said.

On the religious congregations, he said: “I will forgive when I know in my heart that these people mean it when they say ‘we are really, really sorry’.”

He also said he would be asking the Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady to arrange for two or three former residents of the institutions to meet Pope Benedict.

Journalist Mary Raftery, whose RTÉ television documentaries States of Fear(1999) and Cardinal Secrets(2002) led directly to the setting up of the Ryan commission and the Dublin investigation, also received a special award.