The Christian Brothers have been accused of censoring debate about a damning major report on child abuse due to be published today.
The order has told the heads of its 97 schools not to make any comment to the media and to refer any queries to the Edmund Rice Schools Trust which now runs them.
The move was condemned last night by Barnardos chief exectuive Fergus Finlay who accused the trust of trying to “stifle” debate into the report.
The report’s five-volume catalogue running to 2,500 pages and cosing an estimated €70m, will document the scale of emotional, physical and sexual trauma suffered by innocent children by Catholic nuns and religious priests.
The report is expected to strongly condemn the Catholic Church and the Department of Education for the abuse of children in religious run institutions.
The abuse, spanning from the mid-1930s to the mid-90s, took place in industrial schools and reformatories run by the Christian Brothers and Sisters of Mercy. The Christian Brothers were accused of trying to stifle comment after the chief exectuive of the Edmund Rice Trust, Gerry Bennett, sent an email to principals and secretaries of boards of management.
It said that: “We would encourage you not to make a response from your individual school, but that you refer any queries to the Edmund Rice Schools Trust.”
The Government-appointed Commission heard testimony from more than 1,000 victims, many of whom suffered physical or sexual abuse.