Thursday, November 26, 2009

Paedophile priests 'will be brought to justice'

Paedophile priests 'will be brought to justice'

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Republic's government today vowed to bring paedophile priests to justice, branding their reign of terror a systemic, calculated perversion of power and trust.

As a long-running Commission detailed the extent of cover-ups by Catholic hierarchy, the Government apologised, insisting dark days of abuse and secrecy were gone for good.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern pledged to bring offenders to court regardless of the time that has passed.

"On a human level - as a father and as a member of this community - I felt a growing sense of revulsion and anger," he said.

"Revulsion at the horrible evil acts committed against children. Anger at how those children were then dealt with and how often abusers were left free to abuse.

"But the white heat of our anger should not for one moment deflect us from what needs to be done.

"The persons who committed these dreadful crimes - no matter when they happened - will continue to be pursued.

"They must come to know that there is no hiding place. That justice - even where it may have been delayed - will not be denied."

Mr Ahern praised the courage of victims who gave evidence to the Commission.

It is the second time this year the Irish Government and the Catholic Church has been rocked by the extent of child abuse and the cover-up in the clergy and state institutions.

In May the Ryan Report detailed decades of abuse in schools, borstals and reformatories run by Religious Orders. Thousands of children were affected.

Mr Ahern said: "There is no escaping the cruel irony that the Church, partly motivated by a desire to avoid scandal, in fact created a scandal on an astonishing scale.

"In many cases, the welfare of children counted for nothing and abusers were left free to abuse - to visit evil on the innocent."

The Garda Inspectorate has been called in to review how officers deal with allegations of child sex abuse.

Children's Minister Barry Andrews will examine the Commission's report to establish what actions are necessary in addition to 99 action points from the Ryan report.

In a statement the Government said: "The perpetrators must continue to be brought to justice, and the people of Ireland must know that this can never happen again.

"Whatever the historical and societal reasons for this, the Government, on behalf of the State, apologises, without reservation or equivocation, for failures by the agencies of the State in dealing with this issue."

Mr Ahern said: "It is not now - nor has it ever been - acceptable that institutions behave or are treated as being above the law of the State.

"This is a Republic - the people are sovereign - and no institution, no agency, no church can be immune from that fact."

Mr Ahern insisted the cover-ups of the past would not be repeated.

"The era where evil people could do so under the cover of the cloth, facilitated and shielded from the consequences by their authorities, while the lives of children were ruined with such cruelty, is over for good," the minister said.

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