Abuse inquiry aims to reverse naming policy

THE Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse wants to reverse its policy on naming individual perpetrators.

It believes that only naming convicted perpetrators of child abuse will allow a worthwhile inquiry to be conducted within a reasonable time. At a public hearing in Dublin yesterday commission chairman, Mr Justice Sean Ryan, said the commission was also opposed to the holding of case-by-case investigations into allegations of abuse.

Mr Justice Ryan said hearing every single complaint would be impossible to achieve within a reasonable period. Many complainants would have died before their cases were heard. The commission has more than 1,700 complainants and reckons it will take the investigation committee more than 10 years to hear them, assuming that hearings were conducted six days a week without a break during that period. The commission’s legal team is proposing that the committee should hear as much evidence as required to establish whether abuse took place in any given institution.

Mr Justice Ryan said he hoped to announce commission policy on both issues after consulting with all the parties involved. His decision will be announced before the Supreme Court begins hearing a challenge by the Christian Brothers to overturn a decision by the commissions previous chairperson, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, to name and shame people who had not been convicted. Mr Justice Ryan said interested parties had three weeks to make their views known before a public hearing was held on Monday May 24 next.

Florence Horsman Hogan, founder of Let Our Voices Emerge Organisation (LOVE), who was brought up in a residential institution and wants to support priests, nuns and brothers who have been falsely accused, welcomed the commission’s proposals which she believed would be fair.

Prominent abuse survivor Christine Buckley said the proposals raised huge concerns and was not what abuse survivors envisaged.

Irish SOCA (Survivors of Child Abuse) representative John Kelly said the commission was effectively giving immunity to perpetrators of child abuse by not naming and shaming them.

One in Four director Colm O’Gorman believed that even if the commission wanted to name individual perpetrators it would be prevented from doing so.

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