from RTE News September 12, 2002
(22:35) The Laffoy Commission has said it is not prohibited by law from making public the names of dead or elderly persons responsible for child abuse.
It will first apply a test to establish whether it is unsafe to make any finding where a significant period has elapsed since the alleged abuse occurred.
The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was responding to objections from two religious congregations that dead and elderly alleged offenders should not be named.
Today's provisional ruling by the Commission's investigation committee follows four days of public hearings at the end of July.
Three people were accused of abuse at those hearings. Neither the religious congregations, the alleged offenders nor the accusers were named. Two of the accused, a brother and a nun, are dead, while a third nun is elderly.
Counsel for the religious objected to the Commission publicly naming both the dead or their institutions. They also argued that the living accused was gravely hampered in her ability to defend herself because of the lapse of time since the alleged events.
In a 57-page ruling, the Commission says it is not prohibited in law from making public a finding or determination.
It also said it is not banned from identifying a person responsible for abuse but who is absent from the Commission process. It is also allowed to name the institution in which the abuse occurred.
However, the Commission says that it will first apply a test to establish whether it is safe to make any individual determination of a claim where a significant period has elapsed since the alleged abuse occurred.
It says this will be applied against the clear statutory mandate that it should make determinations and findings which identify parties and institutions.
It says the issue of prejudice, arising from a significant lapse of time, will be considered at the end of the evidence-gathering phase on the issue as to whether abuse occurred in a particular institution or was perpetrated by an individual.
Finally, the ruling says that where a determination or finding of abuse is made which identifies a person, persons and/or an institution, they will be made public during the second phase of the Committee's hearings and through the Commission's published report.
Audio and Video
6.01 News: Joe Little, Religious and Social Affairs, reports on the Commission's claims that it can make public the names of dead or elderly persons responsible for child abuse28k - 56k
9.00 News: watch the video56k