Ahern: Plot to ‘silence’ apology for State care abuse

FORMER Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has revealed efforts were made to silence his apology on behalf of the State to survivors of institutional child abuse.

Mr Ahern said people had put pressure on him because of legal and financial concerns not to say sorry when the apology was made nearly 10 years ago.

Speaking at an event for survivors of abuse yesterday, Mr Ahern said: “There was a reluctance to admit that as a state and as a society that we failed many of the children of a nation by allowing them to be incarcerated in places where they were not cherished but poorly treated.

“There were plenty of people telling me not to do it then. And there were compelling reasons; there were financial arguments, there were legal arguments that we should say nothing.”

Mr Ahern made the apology in May 1999, which led to the setting up of an inquiry and redress board. Figures suggest the cost of compensation for abuse victims could exceed €1 billion.

Survivors of institutional abuse gathered yesterday at the Aislinn organisation’s support centre in Dublin to receive educational awards. The group, run by co-founder Christine Buckley, has helped 7,000 former institution residents and survivors of abuse.

Mr Ahern admitted the move, which had led to a commission of inquiry as well as a redress board had been a “costly decision”.

The amount agreed in compensation contributions from religious orders, €128 million, might not have been enough in some people’s minds, he said.

Speaking of our economic crisis, Ahern said Ireland could turn it around by next year.

The worldwide recession had started on February 15, when the US had allowed the Lehman Brothers bank to go under, he said.

“The United States led us into this and the United States will lead us out of it. Anyone who thinks otherwise is not on this planet... I still hope that what I said six months ago, that this will be a difficult recession until this time next year and turned around.”

He also warned against cutting infrastructure projects in the emergency budget as better building deals could be got and would boost the economy.


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