President calls for Ryan report prosecutions


President Mary McAleese has said she believes there should be criminal prosecutions as a result of the Ryan report into institutionalised child abuse.

Speaking from Boston on the final leg of a five-day official visit to Massachusetts Mrs McAleese said she felt the Irish people wouldn’t have the “stomach” to run away from the question of criminality.

“In so far as the Ryan report catalogues acts of criminal neglect or violence that were perpetrated by people who are still alive I think we have to say absolutely without any fear of contradiction then they remain amenable for those crimes,” she told an RTÉ interview.

“I think that part and parcel of what comes out of the Ryan report is they are brought before the proper authorities”.

Mrs McAleese said that while prosecution might not bring closure it would bring justice.

On the issue of people not being named the President said had the report done so it would have been a “sure fire way of ensuring they would never be prosecuted because it would impact very grievously in terms of prejudicing future prosecution.”

She said the child abuse scandal was not a peculiarly Irish problem and described it as “an atrocious betrayal of love”.

“I think that now what we can do is show ourselves, show the victims and show the world, how we respond to this.

“Do we respond to this by being overwhelmed by silence? Or do we engage in a massive debate about our responsibility and the opportunity that we have to make amends?” she added.

Later Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said he agreed with the president’s comments. Mr Ahern said: “At the end of the day the crimes that have been committed in this are so enormous that they can’t in any way be swept under the carpet.

“I fully agree with what the president has said in relation to this, obviously as a nation we have to try and come to terms with this."

The Minister said the help of witnesses could be critical to charges being brought. “I would urge as many people as possible to co-operate in helping convict perpetrators who have yet to face justice to come forward. I know it is very difficult for them, but the Garda are there to help and build evidence for future prosecutions.

“There are some who witnessed evil being done and who may have vital information to offer. Their help even at this late stage could prove pivotal in grounding future prosecutions.

“As a nation we must try and come to terms with it but from a legal point of view there are procedures, and there’s a court system,” Mr Ahern said.

Despite the fact many surviving perpetrators are now elderly, the Minister insisted there is no statue of limitations on such criminal offences. “We are not precluded from opening criminal investigations that stretch back in time.”

An Garda Síochána has advised anyone wishing to provide information relating to the Ryan report or a criminal offence arising from it to contact a dedicated phone number (01-6663612) at the offices of Assistant Commissioner, National Support Services, Harcourt Square, Dublin 2. This line will be manned during office hours, Monday to Friday.

People can also can write to the Offices of the Assistant Commissioner, National Support Services, Harcourt Square, Dublin 2, with envelopes marked "Ryan Report".