‘Just another report on another shelf’

One year ago this Thursday, Justice Sean Ryan published the long-awaited results of his report into child abuse at church-run industrial schools and orphanages, where rape and abuse of children was found to be ‘endemic’. As the anniversary approaches, John Downes asked a variety of people for their thoughts on what progress, if any, has been made since then

Christine Buckley, Abuse survivor and co-founder of the Aislinn centre
Alan Shatter, TD, Fine Gael spokesman on children
Barry Andrews, Minister for children
Paddy Doyle, Abuse survivor and author of ‘The God Squad’
Jillian van Turnhout, Chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance
Maeve Lewis, Executive director of One in Four

Christine Buckley – Abuse survivor and co-founder of the Aislinn centre

20 May 2009 is a day etched in my memory forever. I grabbed the report’s executive summary and fled to a nearby hotel. Despite reading the document three times I still could not believe that we at last had been vindicated.

The outrage of society propelled the religious to do what was morally right. The second tranche of money [from the religious orders], €110m, is disappointing. Nevertheless under the secrecy deal they were not compelled to make further contributions.

Of the 16 congregations involved in this process, 14 have stressed the establishment of a trust fund, “to offer and provide support to people who have experienced institutional care and their dependents and as a mark of genuine regret for suffering experienced”. We welcome the fact that religious organisations have been asked to contribute €200m towards redress costs, particularly in these recessionary times.

But the Magdalene women should never have been excluded from the redress board and I’m hoping that the government finds a way to pay redress money to these women because it’s a disgrace.

Alan Shatter- TD, Fine Gael spokesman on children

I think there have been a lot of promises made by government but in reality very little has been delivered. In the context of the child protection services, we know they are still seriously dysfunctional and fragmented.

The implementation plan published by Minister Andrews was worthy. But very little has happened since. For example, the HSE’s managerial culture and child-protection structures are still grossly ineffective, and legislation for the use of soft information for vetting purposes has still not been introduced. I believe 12 months on from its publication, very little has changed on the ground. There have been one or two initiatives, but there is still a lack of transparency in the running of the HSE. The failed attempts to cover up the case of Tracey Fay illustrates the change of ethos which needs to occur.

This government is paying lip service to child protection, but hasn’t taken the action required. If you compare the speed with which the complex Nama legislation was enacted in the House, with the failure utterly to legislate post Ryan, you get a true picture of this government’s priorities.

Barry Andrews – Minister for children

The government accepted in full the 20 recommendations contained in the Ryan report. The recommendations were framed to recognise and support the victims of past abuse and to ensure that children in state care today are supported and the events of the past are not repeated.

I was asked by government to formulate a plan that would comprehensively respond to the recommendations contained in the report. The 99-point implementation plan went beyond the Ryan recommendations and proposed wide reform of our child-protection services. That plan was widely welcomed by children’s organisations and is, I believe, a road map to improved children’s services.

In order to support and realise the commitments in the plan, the government allocated €15m as part of the budget last December.

This specific financial allocation will provide for a range of improvements including the recruitment of 265 additional frontline child-protection staff, extra aftercare services and enhanced oversight of the Children First Guidelines.

Paddy Doyle – Abuse survivor and author of ‘The God Squad’

In the year since the publication of the Ryan report not a lot has happened by way of bringing the culprits of horrendous deeds to book. On the contrary, the paedophiles that are still alive received the protection of Mr Justice Ryan who allocated them pseudonyms. This raises serious and very troubling questions apart from the obvious one as to why they should be so protected. Where are these people now? Do they have access to children? Why are they not on the sex offenders’ list?

While nobody would disagree that the Ryan report is a damning indictment of the religious orders and the state, we must ask why it is that, one year on, nothing of substance has been done to remove religious orders from the teaching and the care of children.

Apologies have become tedious and meaningless at this point in time and serve only to irritate those of us who were the children who bore the brunt of perverts and deviants into whose care we were placed. Like many reports in the past there is every chance the Ryan report will be just another report on another shelf. That appears to be where it is now heading.

Jillian van Turnhout – Chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance

The government’s Ryan Report Implementation Plan is critical to ensure that the abuse suffered by children at the hands of those tasked with caring for them can never, ever, happen again.

The Children’s Rights Alliance believes the plan to be excellent and can, if implemented, make a real difference to children’s lives. For that reason we awarded it a ‘B’ grade in our Report Card 2010.

That said, commitments alone do not equal action: plans and recommendations are meaningless without the political will and resources to make them real. The government must maintain its commitment to act with urgency on the promises made. To date, there has been some progress. Depressingly, however, some deadlines have already been missed or are looming large – and unless the government takes action immediately, they will be missed too… We are yet to be convinced government is truly committed to children’s rights. Setting a date for a referendum to strengthen children’s rights in the constitution is a real test of the government’s commitment to children.

Maeve Lewis – Executive director of One in Four

At One in Four we have had three times as many clients as normal in the past year. The long-term impact of childhood abuse has been revealed as people disclose lives filled with anguish, suffering and struggle.

With skilled support, pain can be transformed into wellbeing. Survivors deserve no less, but as a society we choose to fund professional services meagrely.

The children in the institutions were not invisible, and we must question how we allowed ourselves to be silent witnesses, never challenging what we saw. Perhaps because of our colonial past, we have no tradition of personal or collective accountability for the type of society in which we live. The same passivity persists today, as we permit children to live at risk of abuse because our disgraceful child-protection system does not function.

The Ombudsman for Children published a damning investigation into that system last week, but it has provoked astonishingly little debate. Our policies regarding children are amongst the most progressive in the world: the problem is that they are not implemented.

May 16, 2010 Sunday Tribune.

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16 Comments.

  1. HELLO DORIS WELL I THINK THAT DIGNITY IS WHAT ALL THIS IS ABOUT . YES OF COURSE I KNOW THAT IT WAS BEATEN OUT OF US ALL . BUT AS ADULTS WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO RECLAIM IT. MANY PEOPLE ON THIS SITE ARE SUFFERING FROM STOLEN DIGNITY . HOW TO GET IT BACK WITH BLOOD SUCKERS ON OUR BACKS SEEMS TO BE THE PROBLEM

  2. doris dowling

    PAULINE WHEN THE INSTITUTIONS HAVE LEFT YOU WITH LITTLE OR NO RESPECT YOU FORGET ABOUT DIGNITY WHEN YOU HAVE NEVER HAD ANYTHING IN YOUR LIFE APART FROM MY CHILDREN WHICH WE WOULD ALL GO TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH FOR WHICH IS WHAT I DID WHY SHOULD WE HAVE TO GROVEL TO THEM FOR ANYTHING.LIKE I SAID BEFORE LETS ALL GET ON A PLANE AND START KNOCKING ON SOME DOORS TILL THEY LISTEN.WE WILL NOT LOOSE THIS FIGHT.I WILL GO TO DUBLIN FOR A MEETING WITH BRIAN COWAN OR ANYONE ELSE WHO ELSE IS FIGHTING OUR CORNER?POWER IN NUMBERS TOGETHER WE FIGHT DIVIDED WE FALL ….

  3. sorry Doris I didn’t answer your question. Well as I absconded I had to leave Ireland . After a few years in England, I moved to France . I didn’t get any kind of information at all until I bought myself a computer. So it is thanks to Paddy’s site I can finally communicate how I feel .

  4. Like many others who took part in the Ryan report I did not even know the date of publication. When I read Chrissy’s reaction to the report I was amazed. I wouldn’t she took part but she is certainly taking the credit . Not a word about the fact that it is about hundreds of survivors . She sounds as if she believes its about her . Doris you should not have to beg this is disgusting. What about your dignity.

  5. the secrecy deal as Christine puts it that we should accept the €110m is not exactly standing for survivors but accepting yet again what is not hers to accept.
    although it is very disappointing as she put it.
    there is a moral obligation here AFTER THE RYAN REPORT was printed.
    THIS IS THE PROOF WE ALL NEEDED ON WHAT WAS GOING ON.
    as before it we had great fear of not being believed.
    the ryan report now should be our bible as the bishops and pope have theirs.
    the truth came out after the ryan report came out .
    and that truth should be now used properly as evidence on behalf of all survivors.

  6. doris dowling

    believe you me Pauline it took me too years of letter writing and sending very personal documents to Ireland and do you know what they didn’t even care I had a disabled child with autism. It’s like getting blood out of a stone. The education fund does not work neither does counselling. I don’t know weather you are over in England Pauline or you are in Ireland we don’t get any information over in England at all until it is too late. by then the groupies have decided everything for us yet again.

  7. How did you manage that getting anything out of people who don’t even know where most of us are is really something its an exploit. and a bit of your compensation ,WOW .ONE DAY WE MIGHT EVEN GET NEWS

  8. doris dowling

    TO THE GROUP BULLIES. GREED WILL BE YOUR DOWNFALL. I DON’T WANT EDUCATION I AM TOO OLD AND ITS TOO LATE. COUNSELLING 40 YEARS AND MORE STILL SUFFERING FLASHBACKS IT NEVER HELPS. MOST OF US ARE TOO TRAUMATISED ANYWAY. LIKE I SAID BEFORE WE WANT TOO LOOK AFTER OURSELVES IN OUR OLD AGE I WE DON’T WANT TO GO TO THE GROUPIE BULLIES FOR WHAT IS RIGHTFULLY OURS ANYWAY. ITS HARD ENOUGH GETTING A FEW QUID OUT OF THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE. COME ON SURVIVORS ON THIS SITE WE WANT THE SAME THING DON’T LET THEM WIN PLEASE WE MUST MAKE A STAND AND VERY VERY SOON.

  9. Christine Buckley, Michael O’Brien and John Kelly do not represent me and should not make decision’s on my behalf. I wish they would stop and think for one moment how upsetting it is for survivor’s this continuing of their self opinionated idea’s which may not suit the majority.

  10. Charles O'Rourke

    Miss Buckley, help the starving and send coffins.

  11. There is one thing for sure….

    ….Justice will be served on Judgment Day…..

  12. what are our rights, I mean legally as far as these people are concerned. what exactly can be done if anyone knows put the information on here . also these lists should be composed of survivors with whom these people have regular contact. since its not the case why do the government accept these business meeting in such conditions.who controls the whole thing.Is it the church.

  13. Hi Pauline well spoken gal i have written in paddy’s “survivors at loggerheads over denial of abuse”.
    isn’t it strange not one mention in these meetings regard children survivor’s children here is a clip from Christine Buckley’s statement

    ““How can we have people stating that they’re entitled to this money, when the same people do not see the importance of education and counselling, and the Barnardo’s tracing service for example?” Buckley said.
    They believe it is far preferable for education, health, housing and other counselling services to be provided on an “as needed” basis to the tens of thousands of survivors both in Ireland and abroad, regardless of whether they went before the Redress board.”
    notice something missing the most important thing?
    nothing about children who are either babies, infants, and so on.
    the very little ones have no say yet again and that is what is coming from the lips of survivors who have lost the focus calling themselves support groups.
    plus the disabled have not been mention either.
    IT IS DOWN RIGHT DISGRACEFUL OF HER AND OTHER GROUPS LOOKING FOR FAME AND FORTUNE FOR THEMSELVES.
    THANK GOD WE CAN AIR OUR VIEWS HERE BY PADDY’S SITE, THE NEAREST TO BEING OPEN TO TRUTH WE HAVE AS SURVIVORS. BUT THIS SITE AND PADDY’S WORK IS BEING IGNORED BY
    1. THE GOVERNMENT
    2. THE RELIGIOUS
    AND FINALLY 3. THE VERY SURVIVOR GROUPS WHO ARE JUST PROVING THEMSELVES NOT TO TAKE NOTICE OR IF THEY DO THEY ARE NOT HAPPY WITH THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH OF SURVIVORS.

  14. It is the people who took part in the Ryan report who deserve the credit, As many travelled from all over the world. The impact, is thanks to them , it took courage.

  15. Victims haven’t gone away, nor are we about to. It’s likely many of our abusers are dead and buried but it’s also a sure thing that the rest of our abusers are still under the protection of Judge Ryan, the Government AND the Religious Orders. In fact it’s plain from the Religious Orders ‘Wealth Submissions’ that much of their wealth is being withheld from victims in order to give our abusers a comfortable retirement!

  16. These people are not talking about the real problem, what has been done for individual survivors, its been years and no attempt has been made to deal with us as if that was the case we would know, they are all using office language, no mention off getting to know us or our needs , no mention of change either so why are they still there or do we have to go to the police because they robed our names

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