Northern Ireland: Amnesty calls for public inquiry into clerical child abuse ahead of Pope's visit to Ireland
Amnesty International has called for a public inquiry into clerical child sex abuse in Northern Ireland, ahead of a visit to Ireland by Pope Francis this weekend.
Amnesty has said that clerical child abuse has been so widespread in Northern Ireland, and the apparent cover-up so consistent with patterns found elsewhere in Ireland and other countries, that only a public inquiry can deliver truth and accountability for victims.
Reviews by the National Board for Safeguarding Children, the Catholic Church’s own safeguarding body in Ireland, have revealed that more than 100 priests in Northern Ireland have been accused of child abuse since the mid-1970s.
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:
“Ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland, and with the spotlight once again on the Church’s response to the sexual abuse of children by priests, a public inquiry into clerical abuse and its cover-up in Northern Ireland should be established without further delay.
“We already know that Church leaders have repeatedly failed to report criminal activity to the police in Northern Ireland, have sworn child victims to secrecy, and moved abusive priests across parish lines and across borders, allowing them to evade justice and free to abuse more children. But only a public forum equipped with sufficient powers to get to the truth, can reveal the full extent of the problem.
“For years, victims and survivors have called for an investigation into the scale and circumstances of clerical child abuse in Northern Ireland.
“With no devolved government in Northern Ireland, it is now the UK Government’s responsibility to see that justice is done.”