Northern Ireland executive to launch inquiry into clerical child abuse

Catholic Church in Northern Ireland to have official inquiry

Responding to increasing pressure from victims organizations, the North's power-sharing government will announce an inquiry into clerical child abuse in religious-run institutions there.

According to the Guardian the victims organizations recently met with the first minister Peter Robinson and deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, after campaigning for a full public inquiry into sexual, physical and emotional abuse in orphanages, schools and other institutions that were mostly under the control of the Catholic church.

The late Father Brendan Smyth, one of the most infamous clerical abusers in recent history, reportedly abused children in Belfast parishes, hospitals and church-owned properties across the border in the Irish Republic throughout the 1960's, 70's and 80's.

As well as individual priests, Catholic institutions run by the Church will also be examined in the inquiry including the frequently cited De La Salle boys' home in Kircubbin, County Down.

Conor Ryan, a former resident who lived at the home for two years from 1957 described it as 'A primitive place, run like a borstal. My time there could be best described as living hell.'

According to the Guardian Amnesty International has criticized the new inquiry's constrained terms of reference, expressing their concern that the Northern Ireland executive-run investigation might not have the power to summon members of the clergy to give evidence or compel the church to hand over documents about known abusers and the institutions they worked in.

In its annual Amnesty noted: 'In September the Northern Ireland executive announced proposals for the establishment of an inquiry to investigate institutional child abuse. There could, however, be a delay in providing the inquiry with a statutory basis, which might initially leave it without the necessary powers to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents.'

COMMENTS