Amnesty to report on clerical abuse

ARCHBISHOP Diarmuid Martin will face tough questions today on clerical child sex abuse scandals, with a major human rights report which compares some of the acts perpetrated to torture.

The Amnesty International Ireland report also includes Red C surveys of the public and their reactions to revelations contained in previous investigations into clerical abuse reports.

Dr Martin will attend the launch of the 400-page dossier on clerical abuse, as will Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

A key part of the report asks where the responsibility of both Church and state failed, resulting in the neglect and physical and sexual abuse of children.

The research, In Plain Sight by Dr Carole Holohan, will examine the institutional abuse documented in the Ferns, Ryan, Murphy and Cloyne reports from a human rights perspective.

More than 80% of respondents expressed anger at the state and society in general for not doing more to prevent the abuse. Half found the Ryan report on institutional abuse too overwhelming to know what to think. One third said they found the subject too upsetting to engage with.

A section of the study will also examine how children from impoverished backgrounds were more likely to be victims of abuse perpetrated by religious orders.

Colm O’Gorman, Amnesty’s executive director, himself a victim of sex abuser Fr Sean Fortune, is understood to have taken a personal interest in the study.

He is expected to outline concerns over the lack of prosecutions of clerical sex abusers at the launch.

The report will ask whether wider society turns a blind eye to child abuse, and how important children from different backgrounds, such as Travellers or those with mental health problems, are to society.

The report will say much of the abuse described in the Ryan Report meets the legal definition of torture under human rights law.

It will also say those who failed as guardians, civil servants, clergy, gardaí and members of religious orders have avoided accountability.


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