When one looks at the present position in relation to the Irish State and the Religious Orders including the Redress Board and the Ryan Commission Report and the cost to the taxpayer over the last 10 years.

It soon becomes clear that the Government has shown it is dominated by the Civil Service, has no political imagination or courage of its own and just drifting without direction.

Therefore, it’s quite clear that victims of institutional child abuse and their representatives should fully support the Labour Party’s Institutional Child Abuse Bill 2009.

The Bill sets out to deal with the following main areas.

· Expanding the definitions of ‘child’ and ‘institution’ so that no victim of abuse is denied justice through the Redress Board.
A small but substantial number of people were previously excluded from the Redress Board because of the wording in the 2002 Act. This change ensures that is no longer the case.

· The expanded definitions of ‘child’ and ‘institution’ in the Bill will necessitate a new time period for new applications to the Redress Board.
This recognises that victims of abuse who either lived abroad, or for whatever reason, were not aware of the Redress Board’s work, will have a second chance to apply. We propose that there will be a 3 year period for new applications once the Bill is passed.

· The Bill will abolish the obligation of secrecy which effectively prohibited applicants to the Redress Board from talking about their childhood and time in the Institutions.
The Bill would delete the relevant section of the 2002 Act and remove the punishment of a €25,000 fine or two year jail sentence, or both.

· The Bill proposes that persons who were detained in Reformatory Schools under criminal convictions must be treated for all purposes in law as not guilty of an offence. Their records will be wiped clean.
For purposes of law, survivors must be treated as if they have never committed, or been charged with, or prosecuted for, or convicted of, or sentenced for, any offence.

· The records of the Redress Board and the Child Abuse Commission (Ryan Commission) will be preserved.
Destroying the records would be an insult to those who gave evidence of their abuse and would prevent future generations understanding what happened in Ireland. Consideration is given to the privacy of victims, and any plan to transfer or dispose of the records must first receive approval from the Houses of the Oireachtas.

· The Bill opens up the 2002 Indemnity Deal to Freedom of Information requests.
All legal privilege and confidentiality will be waived by the State if the Bill is passed. It will allow all records of the 2002 Indemnity Agreement with the 18 Religious Teaching Orders to be published in full. It guarantees that any proposed amendment to the Indemnity deal will have to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and subject to its approval.

· Enables an audit of the Religious Orders’ Assets.
The Bill confers power on the Government to appoint an Auditor to examine the Financial Affairs of the 18 Religious Orders who signed the 2002 Indemnity Agreement. This will allow the government to assess the true wealth of the Religious Orders for future renegotiation of the 2002 agreement.

Albert King on behalf of Mary King. (victim of institutional child abuse).

 

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