Northern Ireland: Clerical child abuse victims call for public inquiry
Child abuse campaigners in Northern Ireland have reacted angrily to a Belfast court judgment today which reduced the four year sentence given to priest Fr Daniel Curran for abusing two young boys and have called for the Executive to set up a public inquiry into clerical abuse in Northern Ireland.
In February 2012 Curran was convicted of child sex abuse offences for the fourth time and was given a four year prison term, which he subsequently appealed, leading to today's court decision.
Margaret McGuckin of SAVIA (Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse), who was in court today, said the court's decison was just the latest example of abuse victims being let down by the authorities and called for the Northern Ireland Executive to establish a public inquiry into all cases of clerical child abuse.
Margaret McGuckin of SAVIA said:
"Daniel Curran abused countless Children's rights. So did Fr Brendan Smyth and dozens of others over the years in Northern Ireland. The abuse was organised, widespread and systematically covered up by church authorities. The state too has let down victims in Northern Ireland time after time. Today is just the latest example of that. Clerical abuse victims are not covered by the institutional abuse inquiry being set up the Northern Ireland Executive. They deserve the truth and justice too and want to see a separate inquiry focused on clerical abuse victims to discover the extent of the abuse and the cover-up."
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International said:
"Victims of clerical abuse in Northern Ireland are crying out for justice, but feel their calls are falling on deaf ears. The Northern Ireland Executive decided that the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry now getting under way, would not deal with clerical abuse cases and it is clear that their must be a parallel process to establish the truth about clerical abuse, whether carried out by priests from the Catholic Church or clerics from any other faith tradition where the abusers, like Daniel Curran, gained access to Children's rights through abusing their position of trust as religious leaders.
"Amnesty 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."