Senator condemns 'sinister, right-wing Catholic' groups responsible for abuse


SEANAD REPORT:SECRET, SINISTER, right-wing Catholic organisations had escaped responsibility for their role in relation to the toleration of abuse of children in institutions run by religious orders. Joe O’Toole(Ind) said.

Strong views were expressed on all sides of the House about the findings of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. Terry Leyden (FF) was ordered to leave the chamber when he defied the chair by continuing to speak after the time allowed.

Mr O’Toole said he wanted to put on record his belief of where an enormous element of the problem lay, namely the pervasive influence of those sinister, right-wing Catholic organisations that had been in the middle of this all his working life.

“I can give this House chapter and verse and name the people who stood in the way of the Stay Safe programme, mandatory reporting, sexual education programmes in schools, and I could go on. “These people did the same here in education in some of the high offices of State and managed to carry the day. They have escaped in the course of these reports and I certainly believe they have much to answer for.”

He would like to see an investigation into the influences brought to bear on various government departments, the media and the church to ensure the issues had not been dealt with.

Eoghan Harris(Ind) said he abhorred the kind of anti-clericalism which seized on atrocities such as this. “However, as one born and reared as a Roman Catholic, I ask is there something in the religion of my childhood that allowed this systemic abuse.”

At first glance. It would appear that there was. In Northern Ireland, institutional abuse of Protestant children was very rare, apart from the Kincora incident, and almost unknown in Roman Catholic institutions.

“There is not something inherently bad about Roman Catholicism but there is clearly something inherently bad about Roman Catholicism’s relationship with the Irish Republic.

“Under British rule, these abuses were not practised in Roman Catholic institutions and Protestants did not practise them. The responsibility belongs to the Republic as a whole.”

David Norris(Ind) said he disagreed with Senator Harris to some extent. “I attended an up-market Protestant boarding school where sadism was rampant and somebody very close to me had his life destroyed by this sadism.”

It was disgusting and obscene that we still had a situation where churches, the very people indicted in this report, were exempt from the operation of the equality law.

Liam Twomey(FG) said the same dead hand of apathy and complacency was with us today as much as it had been 30 years ago.

“If a person presented at a Garda station this morning to make a complaint about abuse or something else that was wrong, the garda on duty would probably suggest that the person go away and come back in a week because the garda did not have the expertise and the person who did was unavailable.”

Terry Leyden(FF) regretted that the victims had been excluded from the report’s launch. “It was a shoddy launch and did not allow the victims to be given the report in a dignified way; it was an extension of their bad treatment.”

Seanad leader Donie Cassidysaid he had no difficulty in principle with a motion in the names of Mr Norris, Mr O’Toole, Ivana Bacik (Ind) and Shane Ross (Ind) asking the Government to re-examine the operation of equality legislation.