Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Child abuse victims "in the thousands"
Child abuse victims 'in the thousands'
Huge numbers still to come forward, say support groups

By Allison Bray
Wednesday July 22 2009

THE true number of victims of clerical sex abuse within the Dublin archdiocese is likely to number in the thousands -- not the 450 cited in the Commission of Investigation report, according to victims' group One in Four.

"We believe there's a large number of people who were abused in the Dublin diocese who haven't come forward," One in Four executive director Maeve Lewis told the Irish Independent last night.

For that reason, One in Four and other support groups for victims of clerical sex abuse are urging the Government to delay publication of the report to prepare for the anticipated onslaught of victims who will be coming to terms with its explosive findings.

The government-appointed Commission of Investigation into the handling of clerical sex abuse in the diocese was expected to hand over its long-awaited report to Justice Minister Dermot Ahern yesterday.

However, victims' support groups -- including One in Four, The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA) -- are all urging the minister to hold off on making the findings public until the autumn when they have sufficient resources in place to cope with the flood of calls they expect the report will generate.

The inquiry was established in 2006 to examine how officials in the Catholic Church and the State responded to widespread allegations of the physical and sexual abuse of children by the clergy between 1975 and 2004.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has warned that the revelations by some 450 victims will be both "shocking and horrific".

But independent support groups say they are already inundated with the unprecedented number of victims who have come forward since the publication of the Ryan Report into clerical abuse at church-run schools in May.

Ms Lewis said: "We know that only about 10pc of victims come forward so if Diarmuid Martin is talking about 450 cases it could be closer to 4,500.

"We've been completely inundated and we're concerned there will be a whole avalanche of new cases."

She and Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop, chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, have both written to the Justice Minister urging him to delay publishing the report until October.

Ms O'Malley-Dunlop said it is imperative that victims have somewhere to turn once the report is published.


It has requested emergency funding from the Government to hire additional counsellors.

In the meantime, it's believed the report will name 15 paedophile priests, including 11 who have already been convicted of abusing children.

They were among a representative sample of 46 priests who were accused of abusing children since 1975.

The first man to go public about clerical child sex abuse, survivor Andrew Madden, said the report represents a sea change in attitude.

Once the report is made public, it is incumbent on both bodies (Church and State) to do something about it, he told RTE's 'Six One News' last night.

"Even though these allegations have been coming out for years, not much has been done about it," he said. "This (report) represents the only justice many people will ever get."

- Allison Bray


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