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Press Release

Friday 30th January 2003

One in Four comments upon the publication of the third interim report of The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

The publication of the third interim report of The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse marks the end of Ms. Justice Mary Laffoy’s tenure as Chairperson of the Commission. It, together with the report of Mr. Justice Ryan published recently, must be used to best determine the way forward in an investigation that has encountered near terminal difficulties in its efforts to determine the facts surrounding child abuse in care in this country.

The report runs to some 400 pages and must be examined carefully and objectively. It is essential that there be no “knee-jerk” responses to the substance of this report. It is to be hoped that all concerned accord Ms. Justice Laffoy and her team the respect and careful consideration that their work deserves.

On preliminary examination there appears to be one clear finding with regard to respondents to the Commission. That is that those subject to investigation have either failed to discharge their responsibilities and statutory obligations or have acted to do the minimum required of them to discharge such responsibilities. What seems clear is that the main respondents have not acted in any way to facilitate the successful working of this inquiry. It is difficult to reconcile past public statements of regret and apology with the position that the Commission has found the respondents to have adopted. The Department of Education and Science, together with the Religious Congregations owe those abused as children whilst in their care more than the minimum that they feel inclined to give. They owe them the truth: truth acknowledged through open, full and transparent co-operation with this inquiry.

It now seems clear that if the Commission is to be successful in its remit there must now be a change in the approach adopted by respondents to the Commission. It is not enough for respondents, State and Church alike, to simply do what is necessary to discharge their statutory obligations; they must discharge their moral obligations and work to facilitate the speedy and effective completion of the Commission’s work. 

It is also in our view now clear that the role of the Department of Education and Science as sponsoring department for the Commission is untenable. The independence of this investigation must be, in so far as possible, beyond question. It is now essential that The Department of An Taoiseach assume responsibility for the Commission. 


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