October 30, 2005

Church and State respond

Irish Emigrant

In promising to quickly implement the recommendations contained in the report, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he was "appalled and overwhelmed at the nature and extent of the abuse". He said the Government would be writing to Church authorities to ensure that systems put in place in Ferns, by Bishop Éamonn Walsh, had been implemented in all other dioceses. Mr Ahern added that clerical abuse amounted to 3% of sexual abuse cases, and that the State aimed to tackle the other 97%.

Tánaiste and Minister for Health Mary Harney described the report as "very sad, very disturbing, very depressing". Minister for Justice Michael McDowell promised to amend the current Criminal Justice Bill to include a "reckless endangerment" clause. This will be similar to a new law in Massachusetts which makes it an offence for people in authority to fail to take action when they are aware that children are in danger.

It was Minister of State for Children Brian Lenihan who had most to say. Speaking on behalf of the Government, he condemned "in the strongest possible terms the repeated failure and gross dereliction of duties of those in a position of trust in the Diocese of Ferns, who engaged in acts of child abuse or failed to take effective steps to defend and vindicate the rights of the children concerned". He too promised legislation in line with the report's recommendations. Politicians of other parties all condemned the failure to protect the children of Ferns and called for a swift Government response. At some stage it was indicated that the report was in the hands of the DPP so further prosecutions are a possibility.

Posted by kshaw at October 30, 2005 07:03 PM