The Ryan report, published 10 years ago next Monday, “proved beyond doubt that children were treated like inmates in a prison and like slaves”, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has said.
She recalled on Thursday how it was more than 25 years since the late Christine Buckley "started what became a crusade that forced the truth out into the open".
On publication of the Ryan report, she remembered that Buckley said “most of us who have survived institutional abuse haven’t told it all”. That was because the “public wouldn’t be able to stomach it. Yet we were babies and we had to stomach it”, Buckley had said.
The Minister was speaking at the James Joyce Library in UCD where she had launched Survivors' Stories, accounts of 16 people who had been in residential institutions as children, most of whom were present.
It followed a collaboration between the Christine Buckley Education and Support Centre in Dublin, the National Folklore Collection and UCD Library to record survivor stories from residential institutions for women and children.
The project was co-ordinated by Emilie Pine (School of English, Drama and Film) and Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh (National Folklore Collection).
The launch took place to mark the 10th anniversary of the publication of the Ryan report and the 20th anniversary of the Taoiseach’s apology to survivors of institutional child abuse on May 11th, 1999.
"Your story is our story. It shouldn't have happened to you, but it did happen," said Ms Zappone.
She paid tribute to Carmel McDonnell Byrne who, with Buckley, set up the Aislinn Centre in Dublin. It has recently been renamed the Christine Buckley Education and Support Centre.
Ms McDonnell Byrne is to retire from the centre at the end of May.“You have done our country a great service,” said the Minister, who noted Ms McDonnell Byrne’s “passion, determination and resilience ”.