20/05/2009

'Endemic' Abuse Report Published

The fate of thousands of children alleged to have been abused in state-run institutions across the Irish Republic was in focus today.

In the largest investigation of religious orders to date, the full extent of the emotional, physical and sexual trauma inflicted on youngsters by Catholic nuns and priests has been unveiled almost a decade after the Child Abuse Commission was set up by the Government.

Roughly 2,500 men and women who were said to have been abused in schools and institutions all over the country gave evidence to the Commission, led by Mr Justice Sean Ryan.

The inquiry found that sexual abuse was "endemic" in boys' institutions.

It also found physical and emotional abuse and neglect were features of institutions.

Schools were run "in a severe, regimented manner that imposed unreasonable and oppressive discipline on children and even on staff".

The nine-year inquiry investigated a 60-year period.

About 35,000 children were placed in a network of reformatories, industrial schools and workhouses up to the 1980s.

More than 2,000 told the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse they suffered physical and sexual abuse while there.

The report said that girls supervised by orders of nuns, chiefly the Sisters of Mercy, suffered much less sexual abuse but frequent assaults and humiliation designed to make them feel worthless.

The five-volume study concluded that church officials encouraged ritual beatings and consistently shielded their orders' paedophiles from arrest amid a culture of self-serving secrecy.

It also found that government inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rapes and humiliation.

Victims hope the publication of the long-awaited report will finally reveal the truth about the hidden torture they suffered as children.

(BMcC/JM)

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