Abuse victims: Overhaul justice system

THE Irish criminal justice system is “not fit for purpose” when it comes to dealing with sexual crimes, an abuse survivors group has claimed.

Speaking after the publication of a previously redacted chapter of the Cloyne report, One in Four executive director Maeve Lewis said it was time to examine the failure of the state to allow victims of sexual crime access to effective remedy.

Chapter 9 of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation focused on Fr Ronat, a guidance counsellor and priest against whom 11 complaints of child abuse were made regarding sexual abuse, rape and anal rape.

Removed from ministry in 2005 and put before a canonical tribunal in 2009, he has not been convicted by a court of law.

Ms Lewis said last night: “It is perhaps time that we now admit that the criminal justice system is not fit for purpose in sexual crimes as it consistently fails victims.

“While the right to a fair trial must remain a cornerstone of Irish law, the low reporting rates, high attrition rates and the re-traumatisation of the very small numbers of victims whose cases go to trial have to be addressed.”

Ms Lewis said publication of the redacted chapter again highlights the “catastrophe” which was allowed to take place in the diocese over a period of decades.

“Instead, ‘Fr Ronat’ was protected and supported over many years, allowed to retain his good name and clerical status while continuing to pose a risk to children,” she said.

One of the victims, known as Fenella in the report, said: “I’m not giving up on getting justice”, while another, known as Donella in the report, said this is “far from over”.

“This report shows how the victim was of no interest to the diocese . . . And even today I just get so angry at the thought that that evil man walked out of court a free man,” she said.

The Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne, Archbishop Dermot Clifford, said he accepted the report’s findings into how the diocese managed the Fr Ronat case.

“It is deeply regrettable that the procedures for handling such cases as clearly outlined in the framework document of 1996 were not carried out,” he said.

“As a result, further hurt and distress was caused to complainants. They were also denied the justice they deserved.”

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the publication of the redacted portions of the report again detailed the failure of the Church to comply with its own child abuse guidelines.


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