29 April 2005

Daily Ireland

‘Help all Church abuse victims’

Victims of child abuse have called for an Irish government compensation scheme to be extended to the North.
The call comes after Daily Ireland revealed last week that up to 12,000 people who suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse in church and state-run institutions from the 1920s until the 1970s have yet to come forward to seek compensation.
In the late 1990s, several religious orders and organisations paid large amounts of cash into a fund which was then redistributed to the victims of abuse throughout the Redress Board.
A legal firm representing Irish victims who now live abroad says those who qualify for compensation should make themselves known before December this year or risk losing out on compensation.
Last night a victim of abuse at a church-run facility in Derry City called for the Irish government’s Redress Board’s remit to be extended to cover those who suffered in church-run facilities north of the Border.
For decades, thousands of children were cared for in Catholic Church-run facilities across the North. Many of the religious orders who were forced to contribute cash in the Republic also ran facilities in the North.
The Derry-based abuse victim, who does not wish to be named, suffered a horrific catalogue of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of several nuns and older residents over an 11-year period at Sisters of Nazareth-run Termonbacca care home outside Derry City.
“I contacted the legal firm that is calling on victims to come forward and they told me they could not represent people who were not in institutions within the Republic of Ireland.
“I was a bit surprised because this order was an all-ireland order. These religious groups were forced to pay into a fund to help compensate people who suffered at their hands but it all seems to end at the Border. I think the remit of the Redress Board should be extended north to cover the victims of abuse here.”
The man, who is now in his 50s, was resident at the notorious Termonbecca centre for 11 years from 1953 until 1964.
“I know of four men who were there when I was there who have taken their own lives in the years since.
“It wasn’t just the nuns who physically abused us but they appointed prefects, usually older boys to look after the younger ones, and they also abused us.
“The abuse I suffered was both physical and sexual and we couldn’t tell the nuns what the people they had appointed to take care of us were doing.
“I still see one of my abusers walking free around the streets of Derry.
“It’s not really about the money it’s as much about letting people we know exist.”
Director of the One in Four support group Colm O’Gorman says it is unlikely that the Southern government will extend the remit of the Redress Board.
“The biggest problem here is that the Irish government has no responsibility for homes in the North of Ireland,” said Colm.
“When someone was placed in residential care they became a ward of the state which meant that the state had responsibility for them. But the point that this man raises is very important. The industrial school system was established when the Republic was under British rule and the British abolished them long before they were abolished in Ireland.
“This issue has not been dealt with in the North of Ireland. At one point in 2001 over 90 per cent of British police forces were carrying out investigations into care homes but this did not happen in the North.
“There are a number of other avenues the victims of abuse can take in the North. Although based in Dublin we are happy to help anyone on either side of the border.”
To contact One in Four call (00 353) 16624070 or visit their website www.oneinfour.ie.

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