Society 'turned a blind eye' to abuse
'PERHAPS THE greatest human rights failure in the history of the state'.
This was the verdict, Monday, of Wexford man Colm O'Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International, at the publication of a new report ' In Plain Sight' carried out on behalf of the Irish branch of the human rights organisation.
Amnesty commissioned the report to explore the reasons for the abuse which was detailed in the Ferns, Murphy, Ryan, and Cloyne reports. In his address to those present at the launch in Dublin yesterday, he explained that the reports ' tell us what happened to these children, but not why it happened.
'We commissioned this report to explore that question because only by doing so we can ensure this never happens again,' he said. ' This abuse happened, not because we didn't know about it, but because many people across society turned a blind eye to it. It is not true that everyone knew, but deep veins of knowledge existed across Irish society and people in positions of power ignored their responsibility to act.'
Amnesty International also commissioned a Red C poll which suggested that the vast majority of Irish people believe wider society should have done more to protect children from abuse.
'People realise that this is not just about the crimes of the clergy or the failures of the State, but it is a much bigger problem: the institutionalised lack of accountability in the Irish State,' he said. 'Attempts to achieve real reform in how this State functions will be meaningless unless we learn from what must be our greatest collective failure, one which resulted in the abuse and torture of tens of thousands of children.'
In his preface to the report which is available on the amnesty.ie website, Colm O'Gorman said that the State 'failed to investigate and prosecute allegations of child sexual abuse made against priests and religious with the same rigour that it investigated and prosecuted others accused of the same crimes.'