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Abuse groups who met bishops accused of ‘solo run’

Friday, October 9, 2009

OLIVIA KELLY

TWO LEADING campaigners for victims of abuse in residential institutions have accused other victims’ representatives of going on a “solo run” in meeting with Catholic bishops this week.

Four groups, Soca (Survivors of Child Abuse) Ireland, Right to Peace, Alliance and Right of Place, met the Irish Bishops’ Conference in Maynooth last Wednesday.

The groups made several submissions to the bishops, including a request for a new benevolent fund, and for the bishops to make representations to the Taoiseach to speed up dealings with religious congregations towards the setting up of a new trust.

Tom Hayes, of the Alliance group, said the four organisations had a mandate to attend the meeting as they represented a majority of survivors.

However, Mick Waters, founder of Soca UK, which works with victims of abuse in Ireland who now live in Britain, and Paddy Doyle, author of The God Squad, said yesterday that the four groups did not have a mandate to speak for survivors and should not have met with the bishops.

Some 12 groups had met the Government last June, where it was agreed the Government would act as brokers in a deal with Cori, representing religious orders, in relation to a new restitution fund, Mr Waters said.

“Approximately 12 groups met with members of the Cabinet. It is wrong for any four people to go on a solo run and make a statement that they have a mandate to speak for survivors.”

No meeting should have taken place with the bishops until after the religious orders had finally revealed their assets and until after the Dublin commission report into clerical sex abuse had been published, Mr Doyle said.

John Kelly, of Soca Ireland, said the four organisations represented the “vast majority of victims” and that those people needed closure. “We had a mandate to do what we did,” he said.

Michael O’Brien, of the Right to Peace group, said any group who wished to could have attended the meeting with the bishops and that no one was excluded.

The Irish Times