Northern Ireland: Church child abuse reports are 'inadequate'
Recent reports published by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, have been dismissed as inadequate and are no substitute for a proper independent investigation into clerical child sex abuse throughout Northern Ireland.
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International, supports calls for a thorough independent investigation, whether in the Dioceses of Down and Connor, Armagh or elsewhere. He declared “clerical child sex abuse happened in Northern Ireland over many years. The abuse knew no borders and, indeed as we now know, in some instances the abusers were moved across that border from parish to parish, abusing children's rights as they went.”
The Church hierarchy has been implicated in the cover-up of child abuse cases and allegations of an inadequate response by the authorities in Northern Ireland continue to surface. However, the full extent of the abuses and the clear identification of those complicit in such crimes, along with allegations of serious failings in law, policy and practice, will not be known until there has been a thorough and appropriate investigation of the facts.
Unlike survivors of clerical abuse in the Republic of Ireland who have seen the State institute inquiries in the dioceses of Dublin, Ferns and Cloyne, and have seen the Taoiseach speak out on behalf of victims, those in Northern Ireland have had no such examination and have apparently been forgotten.
Michael Connolly, a victim of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Clogher from 1968 to 1974 sums up the feelings of many victims of the abuses. He explains "I and others who were repeatedly abused as children know how the Church and the State failed to protect our innocence. The National Board for Safeguarding Children reports are welcome but fall far short of what is really required - a fully independent investigation by the State to establish the extent and facts of the child abuse which was allowed to take place over many years in this jurisdiction.”
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