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UN Vatican child abuse report: Northern Ireland victims 'being ignored' by executive

Amnesty International has welcomed today’s United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child report on The Holy See and children’s rights, saying that it should prompt action from Stormont on behalf of victims in Northern Ireland currently being denied inquiries into decades of clerical child abuse and abuse suffered in Magdalene Laundry-type institutions

The UN report has expressed the “deepest concern about child sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic churches who operate under the authority of the Holy See, with clerics having been involved in the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children worldwide”. It also criticised the “practice of offenders’ mobility”, referring to the transfer of child abusers from parish to parish within countries, and across borders.

Last May, Amnesty published research briefings into clerical child sex abuse and abuses in Northern Ireland’s Magdalene Laundry-type institutions, and launched a campaign with victims for independent and effective investigations into the alleged abuse. However, despite bringing abuse victims to meet Ministers at Stormont Castle last June and repeated follow-up letters to politicians, Amnesty has still received no commitment from the Executive to carry out an investigation.

Meanwhile, last summer the UN’s Committee Against Torture recommended that the Northern Ireland Executive should establish inquiries into clerical child sex abuse and abuses in Magdalene Laundry-type institutions in the region. However, once again, no such commitment has been given.

Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director Patrick Corrigan said:

“This new UN report throws a spotlight back on the abuse suffered by children and young women at the hands of clerics in Northern Ireland.

“We know that the practices criticised in this report - the sexual abuse of children, the moving of abusive priests from parish to parish and across borders, and the removal and forced adoption of babies of young women in Laundries - have all happened in Northern Ireland.

“The First Minister and deputy First Minister must respond to the calls of victims for proper inquiries into the abuses perpetrated in this jurisdiction.

“It ought to be unimaginable that Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness would ignore UN recommendations - yet that appears to be what’s happening.”

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