Michael Corry’s letter to the Irish Times 19 May 2005

Madam,
The skewed view of evidence referred to by Mary Raftery at the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Irish Times, 12 May) pales in significance compared to the activities of the Residential Institutions Redress Board. A place of secrecy, exclusion and bewilderment.
I have given evidence to the board on three occasions on behalf of three patients, all victims of layers of abuse, in particular sexual. Two of these have been under my care for over 10 years. All will bring their pain and suffering to the grave.
I was not allowed to be present when they gave their evidence, nor indeed were their partners, a friend, an advocate, no one of personal significance.
They were alone. Alone in attempting to articulate their exposure to regimes of unbridled rape and violence which lasted for years, at the hands of sadistic sexual perverts answerable to no one. Alone in telling about how their chance of a normal life was diminished from the beginning. About how they learned to place no value on themselves, and with their lives totally derailed following their release at 16 years old, drifted from one crisis to another for the rest of their lives.
One patient was left alone, on the verge of a panic attack due to the intensity of his fear, to tell the board of a past littered with criminal behaviour, prison records, substance misuse, dysfunctional relationships, mistrust of authority, and family breakdown.
yoursilences1 [click on picture to enlarge]

I found the discomfort of waiting in a side room to give evidence, aware of my patients’ fears and worries, unbearable. They dreaded getting a panic attack, a flashback to an incident of abuse, a rush of uncontrollable anger that would alienate the chairman and jeopardise the outcome.
In giving my sworn evidence I felt under time pressure, and worse, that I was an unwelcome irritation slowing down the proceedings. An atmosphere of minimisation prevailed. It was impossible to present a complete picture.

 
The “board” consisted solely of a judge and a medical doctor. On two occasions that doctor, having had no experience of working with traumatised or abused children, let alone a qualification in psychiatry, was nonetheless there for the purpose of contributing to a judgment on the compensation deemed appropriate for each victim.
Not being a court, it is held in secret, away from the eyes of the community, and no perpetrator of a crime is ever sentenced to a punishment.
No apologies can be offered as no one is there representing the religious orders responsible. Justice for the victim is not the purpose, only financial compensation, which is capped to a maximum of €300,000. (To date the average award paid out to 2,555 victims has been €78,000.)
The award is conditional on them signing a secrecy agreement and a waiver on taking further legal action. If the victims disclose the amount they were awarded or discuss the facts of their case in public, they face criminalisation.
The wronged now accused of a crime! They can be fined up to €3,000 and can face a summary jail sentence of six months. After a second disclosure, they face a fine not exceeding €25,000 and a two-year jail sentence. Why the secrecy? It’s certainly not for the benefit of the victim. There is emerging evidence that the Redress Board re-traumatises victims.
One patient of mine used this analogy. “An adult, man or woman, abuses a child. It is their ‘secret’. To make sure the ‘secret’ is kept the adult will give the child money or sweets. They buy silence. By making secrecy a condition upon payment, the board is doing exactly what an abuser does to a child.”
The elements of restorative justice which are required for the restitution of balance and healing are transparency instead of secrecy, formal apologies, the punishment of the wrongdoers, and supreme efforts to compensate for damage done.
The Redress Board embodies none of these. Its role makes a mockery of the legal system, and of the Goddess Themis, whose scales are the symbols of Right and Justice. It is my firm belief that the Redress Board contravenes the most basic of human and civil rights. In short, it represents a crime against humanity.
It should be abolished immediately and replaced by an open forum where the victim is not only properly monetarily compensated, but where they can have their perpetrators named, and the scales of justice balanced.

Yours, etc,
Dr MICHAEL CORRY,
Consultant Psychiatrist,
Dún Laoghaire.

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16 thoughts on “Michael Corry’s letter to the Irish Times 19 May 2005

  1. Yet another scandalous chapter in the abuse if Irish people surfaces today with the publication of the Report of The Magdalene Women and the slavery they endured while under the care of nuns and the State. All this information is available on my website http://www.paddydoyle.com down the right hand side of the index page under the heading of “Magdalene Women”

    For what my point of view is worth, I’d urge Australians not to look to the dreadful Redress Board set up here as a model to be used during your inquiries into child abuse there. Circulate as far as possible, that wonderful letter by the late Dr. Michael Corry.

  2. Thank you for posting such important information. It is truly shocking that the criminals who head the catholic church in Ireland with their corrupt influence have managed to subvert attempts to offer help to victims.

    It is indeed a crime against humanity.

    It is very instructive for us in Australia to see how truth, justice and healing has been stolen from Irish victims, so that we can ensure the same does not happen with our Royal Commission.

    And if we are able to do better, and avoid the re-abuse of the Redress Board, hopefully we can then shame Ireland into improving the way it treats victims.

    All the best,

    VV

  3. Dr. Michael Corry’s letter is a very powerful indictment of the Redress Board. He had the courage to speak out when nobody else would. I’m sure you’re solicitor will advise as to what’s the best course of action for you to take. As far as I’m concerned, the Redress Board and the way it operates flies in the face of what I would consider to be all forms of natural justice.

  4. Paddy,

    As regards to the Redress Board, M Corry’s letter spoke volumes. I showed this to my now ex solicitor as to why I would refuse to sign the clause when in receipt of the monies offered by them. I always thought it was a gagging clause.

    Well my case is in the limbo with a new solicitor with the option of going to the Redress Board or the high court. My preference is the high court. Any advice please and thanks. Student.

  5. I don’t have the answers to all your questions but I will make inquiries on your behalf. Watch this space or a space near it.

  6. Paddy

    If we end up in Prison, do you think we can get Tipperary water? Do they have computers in Prisons in Ireland Paddy? Can’t live without my Tipperary Water and Computer. Can I get a grant for the water? Would you ever ask one of the Group Leaders Paddy, are there any Grants for Tipperary Water?

  7. And what made me laugh,Paddy, yes laugh was, when I was in the room at the Redress Board, sitting at the top of this long board room table, surrounded by the high and mighty. Everyone had a bottle of Tipperary Water in front of them including me. BUT…………..I was the only one who had a ” BOX OF TISSUES” put in front of me. When I came out I was thinking, it should have been them with the Box Of tissues in front of them, listening to my story, not me
    Yes, Paddy, You really need a sense of humour dealing with all this.

  8. You realise that by publishing this information you and I could well end up in prison. It’s time people spoke out on the miserly payments made to them by the Redress Board for terrible abuse and suffering.

  9. Most survivors did not know about the Gagging orders until they received the form saying they agreed to the tiny amount of money offered for their pain and suffering. Others could not read or write and were told to put their X here.sign here XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    Try throwing me in prison. Go on try
    70K for 11 years in High Park. works out at a few Euro a day. Some of the others got as low as 25K for a whole lifetime in High Park, yes 25K and I have heard of people getting as low as Euro 5000.00. Now 5000.00 is fine and a very good price for a day spent in one of these institutions. If I received 5000.00 a day for 11 years I would shut up and never say a word. That’s why I became an Accountant after I signed the X on the line

  10. It sure is a paradox. Perhaps it’s because we were criminalised at such a young age that we’ve learned to become so law abiding!

  11. Did the survivors of the industrial schools who went before the Redress Board not know about its Terms & Conditions, e.g., the gagging clause, before they went in there? If not, why not?

  12. Dr. Michael Corry is not a man to mince words. His letter is a damning indictment on the Redress Board and the secrecy that it operates under. Who decided on that gagging clause? Why was it put into the Act and when will it be removed? These are just some of the questions that need to be asked and answered as a matter of urgency.

  13. Still buying the silence of the human beings whom they abused.!

    Enough to make Themis VOMIT.!!!

  14. Nothing has changed then.

    So, we must be the change.

    If everyone speaks out and the people rally around to support them, then there will no room in the jails for all.

    And like in Vendetta movie, the worm will turn, but we the people must do it for the sake of the children of the past, present and future.

    Lady Justice is alive and well and watching.

    The evil ones have no escape.

  15. I sent the following letter to The Irish Times in response to Dr. Michael Corry’s.

    Letter to the Irish Times – 24th May 2005

    Madam
    I would very much like to comment on Dr Michael Corry’s letter concerning the Residential Institutions Redress Board. However, as one who gave evidence to the board, I am prohbited from saying anything under penalty of a €25,000 fine and/or two years’ imprisonment.

    Yours, etc,
    PADDY DOYLE,

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