€500,000 budget for memorial to honour victims of institutional child abuse

A €500,000 budget has been made available by the Government for the memorial promised in honour of the victims of institutional child abuse.

Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe yesterday announced the membership and terms of reference of a committee set up to oversee the memorial. The group will take the views of survivors on where the nature of its design.

The report published in May of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, chaired by Mr Justice Sean Ryan, recommended the memorial be put in place as a permanent recognition of the suffering that took place in state-run institutions.

It also recommended that the memorial be inscribed with the words of Bertie Ahern, exactly a decade earlier, when as Taoiseach, he apologised to the victims: “On behalf of the state and of all citizens of the state, the Government wishes to make a sincere and long- overdue apology to the victims of childhood abuse for our collective failure to intervene, to detect their pain, to come to their rescue.”

Mr O’Keeffe said the memorial will be a permanent reminder of a dark period in Irish life when we collectively failed the most vulnerable members of society.

“As a responsible and caring society, we must fully face up to the fact that wrong was done, that hurt was caused, that we must learn from the mistakes of the past, and that we must never allow those horrific events to visit our people again,” he said.

The minister said a budget of €500,000 is being set aside which will be managed by the OPW. The committee will be chaired by former OPW chairperson with representation for abuse survivors by Bernadette Fahy and Paddy Doyle. It will also consider the views of survivor groups on its location and nature. The remit announced by Mr O’Keeffe also gives the committee power to recommend where it should be built based on those views, and to consider arrangements for a national day of remembrance and solidarity.

The other committee members are Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland president Seán O Laoire, Arts Council official Monica Corcoran and former Cork county architect Billy Houlihan.

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