Reading Nick's blog today I learned of the chapter of this massive document dedicated to the abuses perpetrated in Special Needs Schools and residential services. A table is used to show the 11 combination of types of abuse the witnesses endured. It is a long list of heart breaking tales, examples of hurts, lives destroyed, families torn apart. To pick a random example:
"I was locked in the washroom overnight. ......( named religious staff member)... would walk out and close the door, you’d have your ...night clothes... on and you could stand at your basin and do what you liked but you had to stay there, no blankets, mattress, sleep on the bare floor. We used to get together in a corner and try to keep each other warm, it was scary, you’d hope that nothing would happen, you could also be there on your own. ... You could be there for more than a few nights in a row, freezing cold."For these disabled children, the report describes how they;
"generally reported having great difficulty in finding ways of disclosing their abuse to anyone. In all instances the witnesses’ particular disability was described as a barrier to communication and disclosure, both at the time and subsequently. A number stated that this difficulty was particularly highlighted when addressing such a sensitive topic as sexual abuse."The report also details ways in which the appalling start these people had in life has affected them as they've grown up. I do not excuse or forgive this brutalisation of the vulnerable. I cannot. I want to see a revolution. The people who did this and the others who colluded in the cover up cannot be allowed to continue to wield the power and influence over so much of Irish life any longer. We ,must stay away from their churches and ceremonies. We must freeze them out. We must take back control of our schools and hospitals, care homes and residential facilities. They cannot be allowed to get away with this. They have bullied and impeded our lives for long enough. The children who suffered in the Irish gulags are owed a duty by all citizens to stand up against the vile creatures who harmed them. It is no longer good enough to point to all the good some of the clergy and others in the religious orders have done and to say that many of them are not abusers, that the majority are decent men and women of faith. That is true, at least I think so, but then I haven't read the full report. But the leaders are up to their necks in their culpability for allowing this to happen and as such have tarnished the whole show.
There must be trials and prison sentences. The guilty must be named and sent down for their crimes. The incoming leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales was wrong when he described the people who have admitted some portion of their crimes (and only when absolutely forced to do so as their cloak of concealment was finally dragged away) as "courageous".
I remember being a child and how powerless I was, and I had a very safe and happy childhood. I can’t imagine living in fear every day like generations of my country people have. I look at my own children, exasperating, joyful, vulnerable, hopeful and the idea that little people like them can be harmed for the perverse pleasure and convenience of religious orders fills me with fear and anger and unfortunately, hate. I am ashamed of my nationality and of my abandoned religion.