Nation should be haunted by 'famine of compassion'
FINE GAEL leader Enda Kenny said the Ryan report shamed the Republic as a state and as a society.
“The legislature must deal with the consequences of the horrors of the past and set down what we can to deal with the future,” he added.
Through the decades, he said, the mantra was that the children should be cherished equally.
“As we now know, the State was ignoring the neglect and abuse of the most vulnerable of our children. This was not cherishing them or Christian compassion. It was a failure to care. We stand complicit in the criminalisation of little children as a consequence of their poverty, but that is just the beginning.
“The State was responsible for the destruction of that most precious formative gift, namely, childhood.”
The Republic was haunted by the Famine, he said. “We wonder at the inhumanity shown to the starving a century-and-a-half ago,” he added.
“We should all be haunted by what Mr Justice Ryan has disclosed, that is, a great famine of compassion, a plague of deliberate, relentless cruelty. We stand shamed and we should not excuse ourselves from it.”
Mr Kenny said that every story told and heard only now, decades after the horrors, filled people with shame.
Mr Kenny said he regretted the inadequacy of the words he used to deal with the report.
“I cannot speak with the conviction, truth of recollection or vividness of the nightmare through which so many young children went to grow into adulthood,” he added.
All he could do was speak as a citizen, the leader of his party and the father of a young family.
“Ireland cries silently with those survivors,” he added.
Mr Kenny said that people had read Charles Kingsley’s accounts of what the Victorians did to the poorest of their children.
There were those who had read the Brontes’ accounts of what the powers-that-be did to orphans.
“We were horrified. It gave people bad dreams, but it was fiction. It had not really happened and, certainly, not have happened in Ireland,” he added.
“Now we know different. Now we know, courtesy of the Ryan report, that within living memory and within our own country, we visited comparable horrors on our children.”
Mr Kenny warned against hiding behind euphemisms.
“This was not just a failure to protect. This was torture, pure and simple. That is why justice must be done and must be seen to be done,” he added.
“The State and the religious congregations must make atonement for the crimes they committed and the 2002 deal, as we now know, goes nowhere near that.”