Irish victims of clerical abuse are flooding helplines with phone calls

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Irish victims of abuse in Church-run institutions have inundated abuse helplines with phone calls since the publication of the Ryan Commission report of clerical abuse of children in Ireland.

Under-staffed and under-funded Irish support services are overwhelmed by the record numbers of child abuse victims seeking help, and are requesting emergency government funds to meet the demand.

Maeve Lewis, executive director of the One in Four support group, which helps abuse victims with prosecutions against offenders, told the Irish Examiner: “It’s been absolutely relentless. We thought it would calm down after a couple of weeks, but it hasn’t.

"The report has unleashed an absolute avalanche of people [seeking help]. The media coverage has re-triggered a lot of memories."

Lewis and her advocacy service are seeking a meeting with Ireland’s Children’s Minister Barry Andrews in search the aid they say they need to provide abuse victims with the support they need. The group has been contacted by 300 victims in the past weeks, more than half the calls they typically receive in an entire year.

Meanwhile, the Dublin Rape Crisis Center’s phones are constantly ringing off the hook with child abuse victims seeking help. The organization has had to endure the surge in public need while at the same time accepting pay cuts of between 3 and 10 percent.

Chief Executive Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop told the Examiner: "Money is extremely tight. Services are stretched. Our lines are just kept going. We’ve had a threefold increase in calls for this time of year."

The revelation of the need for increased funding for abuse support groups came as the Dáil (Irish Senate) wrapped up a two-day motion in which they promised to protect all Irish children.

Irish President Mary McAleese plans to meet with 250 abuse victims on June 28, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said he and other bishops plan to meet survivors to offer them help and support.