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Press Release

Friday 16th January 2004

Ryan Report contains the ingredients needed to move investigation forward

Having had time to reflect on the substantive report issued by Mr Justice Ryan yesterday, Thursday January 15th 2004, One in Four wishes to take this opportunity to comment further.

One in Four believes that the report of Mr Justice Ryan published yesterday contains the ingredients necessary to move this process forward in a constructive, realistic and appropriate way.

What is clear is that the model of investigation put in place in the original legislation has not worked and requires substantial reform. What also appears clear is that there is no formula that will satisfy the wishes of all involved in this process. Whilst the ideal would be to establish in detail what happened in every institution and to every child abused in “care” we must accept that this ideal is simply unachievable. Passage of time, the deaths of victims, offenders and witnesses means that such an investigation will be impossible. In order to achieve any meaningful sense of justice a more realistic model must be adopted.

One in Four believes that the recommendations put forward by Mr. Justice Ryan may provide a way forward. We do not believe that his proposals are simply sampling by another name. Indeed we recognise that he has recommended ideas proposed by groups supporting those who have experienced abuse as part of his report.

The proposal that ensues that each case would be examined, even if this took place at joint hearings is, in our view, a sensible approach. It is a fact that in many cases the only real evidence of historic abuse exists in the evidence given by victims. This is accepted in our criminal courts where similar fact evidence is accepted as evidence of “system”, where each case supports an entire prosecution by establishing a pattern of abuse beyond reasonable doubt. Far from denying victims of abuse justice One in Four believes that this model could help victims to achieve justice.

As ever, the devil is in the detail. In order to establish whether these new procedures will work it essential to first clarify what criteria the Commission will adopt in deciding which cases it can properly investigate. One in Four will now seek to consult with Mr. Justice Ryan in order to represent the views of those survivors of institutional abuse that it supports. We welcome Mr. Justice Ryan’s intention to consult with the parties to the Commissions work. We further recognise the particular skill and experience that Mr. Justice Ryan brings to this role and look forward to the Investigation Committee of the Commission recommencing its work.

One in Four particularly welcomes Mr. Justice Ryan’s recommendation that the Commission should continue to publish interim reports. Such reports should work to make the entire process of investigation more transparent and also evidence the approach adopted by the Commission in deciding which cases it can investigate. We await the publication of Ms. Justice Mary Laffoy’s interim report which is due in the coming weeks. We hope that this report on the work of the Commission to date will both clarify what has been achieved to date and help to illustrate the best possible way forward.

 
 

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