Thursday, May 21, 2009

'Endemic' rape and abuse of Irish children in Catholic care, inquiry finds

“An official report into abuse – physical, sexual and emotional – in Catholic schools in Ireland produced a harrowing picture yesterday of ill-treatment which it described as endemic,” says the Independent this morning. The government-appointed Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse - which carried out a nine-year investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse in reform schools, workhouses, orphanages, children’s homes and other childcare institutions – found that “Catholic priests and nuns for decades terrorised thousands of boys and girls in the Irish Republic, while government inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rape and humiliation”, says the Guardian.

The commission’s original judge, Mary Laffoy, resigned from her post in 2003 over claims that the Irish department of education – which was in charge of inspecting the orphanages and industrial schools – was refusing to hand over documents to her. Judge Sean Ryan, who took over as chair the commission, said that when confronted with evidence of sex abuse, religious authorities responded by moving the sex offenders to another location, where in many instances they were free to abuse again.

One of the things we do in the NAC website is Expose church-state programmes. So far, we have exposed two such programmes: British child migrants and Magdalene laundries. In fact, one of our Action alerts is to the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Mercy – institutions run by the Sisters of Mercy were also part of the culture of abuse, the report found – to demand an end to Sisters of Mercy-run laundries; a 2003 Guardian article, titled “In God’s Name”, noted that “the same Catholic orders who operated Magdalene Laundries in Ireland ran laundries in North and South America, Australia, France and are now concentrating their efforts in Asia and Africa”.

We run on the site an incredible Channel 4 documentary on the Magdalene asylums in Ireland titled “Sex in a Cold Climate” (see below). The documentary is almost an hour long; unfortunately, I haven’t seen it in its entirety because I have less than three hours of computer time in our local council’s Idea Store Whitechapel library: we frequently run into trouble in this library; only last week I was bullied by two security guards into vacating the computer I had booked the previous day, which I refused to do (see blog of 13 May “Letter to the Leader of Tower Hamlets Council”).

I should perhaps add here that Declan and I get our breakfast from Monday to Friday - my food for the entire day - in the Sisters of Mercy Dellow Day Centre. We also frequently run into difficulties in this day centre (see blog of 14 May “Letter to Archbishop Vincent Nichols”).