Amnesty support calls for Northern Ireland clerical abuse probe

Responding to the publication today of reports by the National Board for Safeguarding Children's rights in the Catholic Church, Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International said:

"What we can see today is barely a glimpse into the horror of abuse suffered by Children's rights in parishes in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The internal reviews published today are no substitute for a proper, independent investigation into clerical child sex abuse throughout Northern Ireland, whether in the dioceses of Dromore and Derry or in Down and Connor, Armagh and Clogher.

"While we do not yet know the extent, we know that clerical child sex abuse happened in Northern Ireland over many years. The abuse knew no borders and, indeed as we 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, on both sides of the border, by their actions and inaction, helped to cover up that abuse decade after decade. Whether or not the response by the authorities in Northern Ireland was adequate remains in question and we will not know whether there were failings in law, policy and practice until there has been an appropriate investigation of the facts.

"Clerical abuse survivors in Northern Ireland have been in touch with Amnesty and have told us they wish to see a proper, independent public inquiry into clerical child abuse in this jurisdiction. Survivors of clerical abuse in the Republic of Ireland 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. In Northern Ireland, to date, there has been no such examination.

"The Northern Ireland Executive has an obligation to ensure a thorough investigation of child abuse within this jurisdiction, regardless of when that abuse took place and regardless of the occupation of the alleged abuser.

"The victims of abuse in Northern Ireland deserve nothing less than a full investigation into the harm that was perpetrated against them as Children's rights.

"Amnesty International supports the calls of victims for the Northern Ireland authorities to ensure that independent and thorough investigations are carried out into allegations of clerical child abuse past and present, as well as the response of both church and State authorities to such abuse."

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