Children’s Minister Barry Andrews today insisted Irish people no longer have the deference towards the Catholic Church that allowed institutional child abuse to thrive for decades.

During emotional outbursts by abuse survivors at the launch of a Government plan to make sure the systemic torture can never again happen, Mr Andrews said there had been a sea change in society. “I believe that we have come a long way,” he said.

“The deference that was at the core of the problem is no longer there.”

The Children’s Minister blamed an undue high regard for religious institutions and the State for allowing a decades-long cover-up of sickening abuse in church-run homes, schools and orphanages since the 1940s.

While victims generally welcomed the Government plan, some insisted it was too little too late.

Survivor Bernadette Fahy, who works with the Aislinn Centre for addicts, demanded to know why many inspections of children’s institutions are still announced in advance.

She called for abuse survivors to be put on inspection groups because they would know best the subtleties of how abused children are manipulated and silenced.

“When visits were announced we were left scrubbing and cleaning for weeks before the visit, put in a little dress for the day of the visit, the table set beautifully, and as soon as the inspectors left it was back to the grind,” she said.

Mr Andrews insisted announced visits are needed in some cases to make sure children and staff are available to be interviewed by inspectors.

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