75 years: Abuse files to be secret

A child abuse survivor has criticised the Government’s decision to lock the personal witness statements victims gave to state investigations away for 75 years as “very extreme” and “odd”.

Andrew Madden made the remarks after the Cabinet confirmed it is to withhold the evidence for privacy and legal advice reasons.

The decision not to make the files publicly available is based on recommendations in the Ryan report. It was put forward yesterday by Jan O’ Sullivan, the education minister, and will see the files withheld for almost twice as long as State papers are normally kept.

The Labour TD is now due to draft legislation based on the decision to keep the records private for 75 years, although she has stressed she is open to making some of the information more readily available if reasons are given.

Mr Madden told the Irish Examiner last night that he does not understand why the information would not be released until 2090 as the facilities involved are indemnified from legal action.

He also questioned why the Government believes that those who spoke to the Ryan report about their personal experiences would be against making the information public, as they have previously criticised arguments that if they accepted a settlement they could not speak about what happened.

“It is really a personal decision, but 75 years is a lot of time to not publish this. I find it quite odd that the records would be withheld for this long,” he said.

In a statement last night, a spokesperson for Ms O’Sullivan said the move is based on the Ryan report recommendations. “Certain records of archival value will be sealed for 75 years from this year.

“The legislation will relate to records held by Commission to Inquiry into Child Abuse, Residential Institutions Redress Board and the Residential Institutions Review Committee,” said the spokesperson.

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