Thursday, November 26, 2009

Garda apologises for failures

Garda apologises for failures

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has apologised for An Garda Siochána's failure to protect victims of clerical child sexual abuse.

The commissioner was speaking following the publication of the Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin.

"It makes for difficult and disturbing reading, detailing as it does many instances of sexual abuse and failure on the part of both Church and State authorities to protect victims," he said.

"The commission has found that in some cases, because of acts or omissions, individuals who sought assistance did not always receive the level of response or protection which any citizen in trouble is entitled to expect from An Garda Síochána. I am deeply sorry that this occurred.”

He said inappropriate contacts and relationships between gardaí and the Archdiocese of Dublin, had taken place at a time when a "misguided or undue deference" was often shown to religious institutions by society. He acknowledged that such relationships could have no place in a criminal investigation.

“The ugly reality is that there are still people in our society who seek to hurt and abuse children. Protecting vulnerable children must always be a priority for us in An Garda Síochána and we will continue to work together with the HSE and other agencies to ensure children’s safety," he said.

Mr Murphy said the work of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit at Harcourt Square was being supplemented by initiatives aimed at bringing the force into line with best international practice in dealing with cases of sexual offences, including specialist training for officers.

Other measures include the training and appointment of specialist child interviewers throughout the country; the establishment of dedicated child interview suites in each region; and the implementation of a Youth and Children Strategy 2009-2011.

He appealed to victims of sexual abuse and their families to contact gardaí and report the incidents.

"These are despicable crimes which we have the expertise and determination to investigate and I want to assure victims that when they ask for our help they will receive it,” he said.

A dedicated telephone line has been established at the offices of Assistant Commissioner for anyone who wishes to provide information in relation to the report or want to report the commission of a criminal offence arising from the report at (01) 6663066.

People can also write to the Offices of the Assistant Commissioner, National Support Services, Harcourt Square, Dublin 2, marking the envelopes Dublin Archdiocese Report.

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