Survivors of clerical abuse 'regret' lack of consultation over event to commemorate State apology

Survivors of clerical abuse 'regret' lack of consultation over event to commemorate State apology
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina pictured this morning at Aras an Uachtarain when he received representatives from the Christine Buckley Centre on the 10th anniversary of the Ryan Report. Photo: Colin Keegan / Collins

Organisers of a large scale event in Dublin tomorrow to mark 20 years since the State apology to victims of clerical child sex abuse and a decade on from the publication of the Ryan Report have said they "regret" a lack of consultation with many survivors over the schedule and related issues.

The Christine Buckley Centre and friends will host an event in the Edmund Burke Theatre in Trinity College Dublin for a conference called Facing the future together – Ireland’s lifelong responsibility to the survivors of institutional abuse, while a commemoration event to mark 20 years after the state apology will also take place in the afternoon at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

It will mark two decades since then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern addressed the Dáil, stating: ‘I want to say to them (survivors) that we believe they were gravely wronged, and that we must do all we can now to overcome the lasting effects of their ordeals”.

However, the manner in which the event was organised and a perceived lack of consultation with survivors has led to criticism in the run-up to the event.

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina share a moment with Aidan Walsh, a survivor of Christian Brothers, Lota, Glanmire pictured this morning at Aras an Uachtarain when he received representatives from the Christine Buckley Centre on the 10th anniversary of the Ryan Report. P[hoto: Colin Keegan / Collins
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina share a moment with Aidan Walsh, a survivor of Christian Brothers, Lota, Glanmire pictured this morning at Aras an Uachtarain when he received representatives from the Christine Buckley Centre on the 10th anniversary of the Ryan Report. P[hoto: Colin Keegan / Collins

Among those to raise concerns was a former Caranua board member, Mary Lodato, who works with survivors in the UK.

She said issues included a lack of consultation, the selection of St Patrick's Cathedral as a venue, and a €21 entrance fee to the conference.

"I think we can find a consensus among survivors but we need to give them an opportunity to come to the table," Ms Lodato said.

In response to questions from the Irish Examiner, the Christine Buckley Centre said: "We understand that some survivors feel they have not been consulted about this event. We regret that the time frame and resources did not allow for a consultation process. Events of this kind are so important and we hope that people will understand our intentions and come together to mark these occasions."

Regarding the choice of St Patrick's Cathedral, organisers said: "On November 15 the Christine Buckley Centre wrote to the Áras an Uachtaráin asking the President to host a reception on the afternoon of May 11 on behalf of all survivors of institutional abuse outlining the importance of marking the State Apology. Unfortunately they received notification in February that the President’s diary was full and regrettably with his level of commitments it was not possible to schedule the event. "This left organisers with very little time to find a venue to host a commemoration.

"Dr William Morton the Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral heard of the need for a venue large enough to accommodate as many survivors as might turn up with little or no budget to put toward it and he invited us to use the event rooms at the Cathedral.

He assured organisers that no survivor would be turned away and given there was no other venue, limited resources and little or no time to find somewhere they thanked him and accepted the offer.

It added: "Three weeks ago the Christine Buckley Centre (CBC) received an invitation from Áras an Uachtaráin to visit with 50 survivors from the CBC. The invitation was specifically for CBC survivors."

As for the entry fee it said the events are being organised with no budget.

"The conference entry fee will be used to cover the costs of hosting the morning event. The afternoon event is being sponsored by an individual who is covering the cost of all of the refreshments and canapes free of charge as well as providing some music."

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