Call to address past child abuse
Published 20/10/2010 | 16:12
Legal failings which allowed institutional child abuse must be addressed, the head of Amnesty International in Ireland has warned.
The impact of the abuse continues to be borne by those who experienced it and their families in Northern Ireland, said Colm O'Gorman.
He will be in Belfast on Thursday to deliver the Amnesty International annual lecture.
The executive director said: "Tackling past human rights violations has enormous value, not only because it allows us to respond to the ongoing plight of those who have been victimised but because it also exposes the failures in law, social policy and attitude that made them possible.
"As such addressing past abuse is also about preventing abuse in the present and into the future."
Thousands of people have petitioned the Assembly to take action on the abuse. The damning Ryan Report in the Republic of Ireland uncovered decades of endemic abuse in some institutions.
Officials in Ireland's Catholic Church shielded paedophile staff from arrest to protect their own reputations despite knowing they were serial attackers, according to the 2,600-page report from Judge Sean Ryan's commission, which took nine years to complete.
Irish government inspectors also failed to stop the chronic beatings, rape and humiliation, it found.
About 35,000 children and teenagers who were orphans, petty thieves, truants, unmarried mothers or from dysfunctional families were sent to Ireland's network of 250 Church-run industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages and hostels from the 1930s up until the early 1990s.
A total of 1,090 men and women who reported having been abused as children in those institutions gave evidence to the Ryan commission. Abuse was reported in 216 schools and residential settings, including industrial and reformatory schools, children's homes, hospitals, national and secondary schools, day and residential special needs schools, foster care and a small number of other residential institutions, including laundries and hostels.