Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE – 2nd March 2020

REDRESS: Breaking The Silence

RTÉ 1 – 9.30 Monday & Tuesday, 2nd & 3rd March 2020

The RTÉ programme makers have said they would like to thank William Gorry and all those in RISN who so generously took time to talk to RTÉ and tell RTÉ about their experiences. This information was invaluable and RTÉ couldn’t have made the programmes without their help.

Mick Peelo – Reporter
Máire Kearney – Producer

Apologies from RTÉ were included for not having sent this information to RISN and CEO Mr William Gorry till the last minute. Hopefully it will not be reflected in the way RISN may be included in any discussion of the program on RTÉ radio and TV or in newspaper coverage.

Overview: These two programmes include interviews with seven RIRB survivors, four men and three women, of Residential Institutional abuse who gave evidence to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and also made applications to the Redress Board. Through the experience of survivors the programmes examine the issue of justice for the people who suffered such terrible abuse in Irelands Industrial schools.

“Breaking The Silence”

The Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002, essentially placed a ‘gagging order’ on the press from reporting on the experiences of RIRB survivors as follows:

Section 28.— (6) A person shall not publish any information concerning an application or an award made under this Act that refers to any other person (including an applicant), relevant person or institution by name or which could reasonably lead to the identification of any other person (including an applicant), a relevant person or an institution referred to in an application made under this Act.

Taken in conjunction with Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), it was quite clear what the prohibition consisted of in Section 28(6). It was an instrument which ‘gagged’ the press in reporting on the experiences of survivors in Residential Institutions and the Redress process, as had the NDA’s personally gagged survivors from reporting on their experiences.

The more recent Retention of Records Bill aimed at locking away CICA and Redress Board files and records is only part of an extensive campaign to hide a scandal on a scandal.

Breaking Section 28(6) gives voice to those gasping for air to be heard. It has been the goal from many RIRB survivor-campaigners and supporters from different perspectives. The gagging order, Section 28(6), and the non-disclosure agreement, are names written on the damn of injustice where reinforcement was sought in sealing the Redress Board and CICA records for 75 years in the Retention of Records Bill.

Any attempt to seal what still requires further inquiry and investigation as a matter of urgency in detailed analysis of the ‘systemic’ nature of such abuse by Irish authorities, both Church and State, is reason not to do so.

As Mr Bertie Ahern, the Taoiseach who issued the State Apology in 1999, is now saying that ‘we have to look far more deeply at this’ in his (statement) given on the commemoration of 20th Anniversary of the Irish State apology – transcript.

Quote from Mr Bertie Ahern, Former Taoiseach of Ireland suggesting where to next from the appalling insanity of the past in Ireland:

“I think what my advice now is that we have to look far more deeply at this. Resources have to be put in. Otherwise, somebody will have to do it all over again, in another period of time, and that would seem to be a bit insane. What is required is, looking at the facts, looking at the statistics, trying to learn from the experiences, the good things that were done, the mistakes that were made, the bad things that were done, and try to turn that into a coherent sustainable policy that deals with the totality of the difficulties of Irish life and abuse of children in every form. That is an exercise still to be done. It is an exercise that requires resources.

It is therefore not a time to be hiding away the very documents and details that can provide the greatest opportunity to deal with scandal of such depravity and devastation committed in such a ‘systemic’ manner in Ireland, especially where the ‘systemic’ abuse of boys was found to be the case in the Ryan Report.

In 34 citations throughout the Ryan Report, it is noted how there was abuse ‘often described as endemic within institutions where there was a systemic failure to provide for children’s safety and welfare’. … ‘It was systemic and not the result of individual breaches by persons who operated outside lawful and acceptable boundaries.’ … Sexual abuse was endemic in boys’ institutions. … Although girls were subjected to predatory sexual abuse by male employees or visitors or in outside placements, sexual abuse was not systemic in girls’ schools.’

RISN’s call for RIRB consultation talks is even more important now.

William Gorry has also advocated and achieved same in his promissory letter from the Minister of Education in November 2017.

Maybe this RTÉ program might open the damn and free so many more in this dark space of scandal and child sexual abuse from whom we have never heard.

We must learn the lessons from the past, not only to address the needs of RIRB survivors but to address the needs of those children who will be failed by the very best of child protection policies, procedures and practices.

Sadly, it is inevitable that child sexual abuse will not be stopped, but we can learn how to better take care of those who are, in learning more about how we need to take care of survivors starting with RIRB survivors and their families.


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