Irish Times - May 30, 2011
No charges two years after Ryan report into child abuse
by JAMIE SMYTH, Social Affairs Correspondent
NO ONE has been prosecuted over the discoveries made by the Ryan report into child abuse in residential institutions, which was published two years ago, the Government has revealed.
In a written submission to the United Nations Committee on Torture, the Government says 11 files have been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to prosecutions on the basis of evidence provided by the Ryan report.
The DPP has directed no prosecution in eight of these abuse cases and decisions are still pending on the remaining three case files.
The report found “sex abuse” was endemic in State-run children’s institutions over a period of five decades. It was published on May 20th, 2009, following a 10-year inquiry.
In the wake of the report’s publication, the then government and President Mary McAleese said the report could be used to bring perpetrators of child abuse to justice.
One in Four, the campaign group which works with victims of abuse, said yesterday it was very disappointed at the lack of prosecutions arising from the report.
“It is very disappointing and distressing for the survivors of abuse who have been waiting a long time for justice. One of the main reasons some of the survivors gave evidence to the Ryan commission was in the hope that it would result in successful prosecutions of abusers,” said Maeve Lewis, executive director of One in Four.
Ms Lewis said the lapse in time since the abuse took place, a lack of witnesses and a lack of evidence probably hampered the ability of the State to take prosecutions.
No information is provided in the Government’s submission to the UN on why no prosecutions have so far been sought in relation to the files sent to the DPP. But the submission says a further five files will shortly be forwarded by the gardaí to the DPP.
A Department of Justice spokesman said it had “nothing to add at this juncture” about the lack of prosecutions.
Speaking in May 2009, Mrs McAleese said: “Insofar as the Ryan report catalogues acts of criminal neglect or violence that were perpetrated by people who are still alive, then I think we have to say, absolutely, without any fear of contradiction that they remain amenable for those crimes”.
Then minister for justice Dermot Ahern urged people with evidence of abuse to come forward to help secure convictions.
New evidence has also emerged about delays to the State’s multimillion-euro plan to respond to the Ryan report and “a lack of clarity” on spending on measures by the HSE.
The Department of Health has strongly criticised the HSE for mis-reporting the amount of money it spent in 2010 on the State’s plan to respond to the Ryan report.
In late 2010 the HSE told the department it had spent €14.27 million of its €15 million allocation for responding to the report. In 2011 it told the department it spent €4.68 million on Ryan report measures.
“It is important that we have clarity and consistency as to the position with regard to the application of development funding for this specific purpose,” wrote Michael Scanlan, secretary general of the Department of Health, in a letter to HSE chief executive Cathal Magee in March.
The misreporting of spending occurred because the executive initially included money spent on recruiting social work staff on an agency basis. This occurred due to delays in the recruitment of 200 additional full-time social workers, as promised under the Ryan implementation plan in 2010.
The plan also promised to provide funding for counselling services for victims of abuse. But One in Four said yesterday it had to wait until January 2011 – 1½ years after the Ryan report was published – for the promised funds.
The Children’s Rights Alliance, a coalition of more than 90 NGOs advocating on behalf of children, said it was “extremely concerned” about the misreporting and “disappointed” with the Government’s fulfilment of the Ryan report implementation plan.
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