Text of President Mary McAleese's speech
Remarks by President McAleese at a reception for Survivors of Institutional Abuse, Áras an Uachtaráin, 28th June 2009
Dia dhíbh go léir, agus céad míle fáilte romhaibh chuig Áras an Uachtaráin. Good afternoon everyone, and on behalf of Martin and myself, let me offer each one of you a warm, heartfelt welcome to Áras an Uachtaráin.
There are moments in a life when words simply fail as a means of expression. No amount of them, no matter how heartfelt, can seem adequate to the moment. The publication of the Ryan Report was one such moment in the life of this nation.
The horrible lives endured by thousands of our children, over so many years, as a result of abuse inflicted by those who cared for them in the name of the State and often in the name of the Christian gospel, were laid out graphically in that Report. It calls for responses at many levels official and unofficial and I know that many of you are actively involved in discussions on those responses.
There is an important human response to overwhelming grief and that is to gather as community, to rally around one another and simply be together in solidarity.
The invitation to Aras an Uachtaráin today is an expression of the massive public wish to let you know how deeply your stories have struck a chord. For so long your suffering seemed to make strangers of you in your own land.
Today, we simply seek to be family to each other, to assert our common care for one another and to acknowledge that what was done to those of you who are survivors of abuse in institutional care, not only damaged your precious lives but diminished our society.
Those who switched off the light of love and hope in your lives, plunged our country into a terrible darkness. I know that one day in the Phoenix Park cannot hope to restore to your lives all the things that were taken from you. There is no magic potion to put right the things that were made so deliberately to go wrong. Nor is it possible in one event to reach out to everyone affected.
Cherish our children
I hope this day, though, does send a message that your lives and the lives of all those damaged by such abuse are our care and that most important of all we stand together in our determination to ensure that our country will honour the ambition set out in the Proclamation in 1916 to be a Republic which cherishes its children equally.
Your experiences are monuments to our failure to cherish our children. Our most precious monument to you has to be our determination to be that Republic where children are cherished equally not just in lofty words but in everyday deeds.
The people of Ireland are desperately sorry for the many ways in which you were not cherished, in the abuse itself, in the silence, in the failure to act, in the failure to listen, hear and believe in time. In their name I offer every one here and all those whose little lives were robbed of the joys of childhood our heartfelt sorrow.
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