Up to 5,000 more people may seek redress, law firm claims


ABUSE CASES:BETWEEN 2,000 and 5,000 more people may seek redress for abuse experienced as children in religious-run institutions, a leading legal firm has estimated.

A spokesman for the Dublin firm, which has been dealing with people abused in such institutions, said it based the estimate on the number of contacts made with its office and the fact that approximately 140,000 children had been through the institutions between the 1930s and the 1970s. Of that number, 14,584 had applied to the Residential Institutions Redress Board for compensation by the deadline of December 15th, 2005.

The only exceptions allowed to the deadline was for people suffering from a mental incapacity.

The law firm, which did not wish to be identified, pointed out that many former residents of the institutions were abroad, where they would have missed publicity campaigns by the Redress Board alerting people to the deadline at Irish centres. Others still did not think they would be believed or were too embarrassed.

An illustration of the type of anomaly the deadline has given rise to has been the experience of brothers “Joe” and “Seán” (they have requested that their real names not be used). Both were residents during the 1950s in St Patrick’s Kilkenny, run by the Sisters of Charity and at Ferryhouse near Clonmel Co Tipperary, run by the Rosminian congregation.

Joe spent most of his life in London, but returned to Ireland during the early years of this decade. He applied to the Redress Board and received an award.

Seán, who remains in London, wasn’t aware of the redress deadline and didn’t apply in time. He is a year younger than Joe. He had a stroke 17 years ago, but “hates talking about his experiences’’ at Kilkenny and Ferryhouse, Joe said.

Recalling his own experiences at St Patrick’s in Kilkenny, Joe remembered the nuns there as “some sort of savages”.

He remembered one nun screaming her head off as she beat children who were lined up in a queue and when she had beaten a child, he had to go back and line up at the end of the queue for beating again. This went on for an hour. He was eight at the time.

There was also an old nun there who used to give out shoes and who slapped each child about the head if he didn’t fit into the shoes fast enough. The result often was that some children ended up wearing shoes that didn’t fit, to avoid a beating.

In Ferryhouse, he remembered being badly beaten because he wouldn’t confirm that another boy was smoking, when that boy had not been smoking. He also remembered how runaways there would be “stripped to their swimming togs and made get up on a ping-pong table where they were shaved in front of everyone”.