Child Abuse by Religious Orders in Ireland

by Darlene Barriere - Webmaster
(Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada)

After nearly 10 years of investigation, Ireland's Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, was finally published last month. The Ryan Report was made public May 20, 2009, and spans 6 decades from the 1940s onward of state-funded, religious-institution-run child abuse. The damning 5-volume, 2900-page document exposes horrific and endemic child abuse by 216 religious institutions run by 18 religious orders in Ireland.

Some 2500 men and women who were themselves abused in schools and state-run institutions across the country gave evidence to the commission. The deeply disturbing report shows that physical, sexual and emotional child abuse, as well as child neglect was widespread and rampant, and was done with the knowledge of the Catholic Church and the government.

More than 35,000 children were condemned to living in conditions that included a regimen of beatings, sexual and emotional abuse, and extreme neglect that left children who were being used as slaves on farms starving, scavenging for food in garbage bins and among animal scraps.

Hundreds of men and women reported having been beaten on every part of their body with implements that included leather straps, sticks, farm implements, canes, and hurling sticks, some so severely they required medical attention for days, in some cases weeks. Some reported that coins had been stitched into the leather straps for those beatings. Beatings were doled out for such "offenses" as being the last out of the shower, improperly made beds, and school work that didn't make the grade, but often, for no reason whatsoever. Children were kicked, slapped and punched by the Brothers and Sisters who were a part of the institutions; all within earshot of the other children, which left them in a constant and never-ending state of abject fear.

In 2002, legal action taken by a number of the religious orders against the Commission was dropped after the Commission agreed not to publish the names of the perpetrators, unless the names had already been released as a consequence of charges being laid. This has spurred public outrage and a demand that the names be made public and that perpetrators be prosecuted for their crimes.

Recently, but only after public outcry, all 18 religious orders have agreed to increase the amount of compensation (currently at 1.27 million Euros) they are willing to pay victims. The additional amount has yet to be determined, since an audit must now be done in order to establish assets so that an amount can be settled on. There has been talk about a 50/50 split with the government (taxpayer), who has to this point paid out 10 times that of the religious orders. But at this time that is only speculation.

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Jun 11, 2009
Understandable outrage...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

I can certainly understand why the people of Ireland are demanding that names be released and that the perpetrators are prosecuted. Not doing so screams of cover up; MORE cover up, which is one of the issues that the Ryan Report brought to the surface. It is no wonder that Ireland is so up in arms: The Catholic Church has covered up—and continues to cover up—endemic child abuse; and they did so, and continue to do so, with the full knowledge and cooperation of the Department of Education. Both the Church and the government must now face the consequences of these cover ups. These religious orders should be made to pay reparations, and not put the Irish taxpayer on the hook for the overwhelming majority. But most importantly, open and honest transparency must be apparent; otherwise, lessons will not be learned and the past will be repeated.

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Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Jun 12, 2009
Thank You
by: Maurice

I wholeheartily acknowledge all you share Darlene
Yes bring the living religious/priests/sisters to the courts name them and shame them. For many of us who were abused by these sadistic and inhuman men and women alot of those who abused are dead but live on within our memories of what they did to us. Letting go ain't as easy because of that memory but I know letting go of the known abuser who is dead is a must for each of us. Thankfully forgiveness is part of my letting go because now He is with his (our) ultimate judge OUR LOVING FATHER IN HEAVEN. strangely part of my healing has been to pray for this person in the knowledge he is not around to abuse any one any more

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