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Tuesday 23 October 2018

Abuse victims 'furious' as Dail debate is pushed back

Children's shoes left on the railings of Dail Eireann yesterday ahead of today's protest by victims of abuse
Children's shoes left on the railings of Dail Eireann yesterday ahead of today's protest by victims of abuse

John Cooney

SURVIVORS' groups have slammed politicians for postponing a Dail debate on the Ryan Report into institutional child abuse to make room for a no confidence motion on the Government.

Christine Buckley, founder of the Aislinn support centre, said she was furious that the debate had been delayed and said it overturned a commitment given to survivors at a meeting with Taoiseach Brian Cowen last week that the Ryan Report would be given priority attention by the Dail.

The controversy comes as Catholic bishops, meeting in Maynooth, are to finalise their first full-scale study of the Ryan Report with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin expected to announce their response at a news conference this afternoon.

Meanwhile, thousands of silent protesters will march to the Dail today in solidarity with the victims of abuse in religious-run institutions.

The protest had been planned to coincide with the Dail debate on the report's findings of systematic abuse of thousands of children in 216 institutions managed by 18 religious orders.

Ms Buckley said she was angry that the debate has now been postponed until tomorrow and Friday morning on account of Fine Gael's tabling of the no confidence motion, which will be voted on today.

She said the alteration in the schedule was another instance of the use of "power" by the political system against survivors.

The march will start at the Garden of Remembrance at midday and pass down O'Connell Street on its way to the Dail.

"We are asking everyone to wear a white ribbon and bring one child's shoe. We think it very symbolic as we were very young children when we entered these hell-holes and now we are, for the most part, broken adults," she explained.

Once at the Dail, survivors' groups will present a "petition of solidarity" to Sr Marianne O'Connor, the general secretary of Cori and Br Kevin Mullan of the Christian Brothers.

The petition reads: "We the people of Ireland join in solidarity and call for justice, accountability, restitution and repatriation for the unimaginable crimes committed against the children of our country by religious orders in 216 institutions."

The names of all of the institutions will be read out before 108 white balloons and 108 black balloons, representing the living and the dead abuse victims, are released.

All of the 18 religious orders involved in the abuse scandal have been invited to attend the demonstration.

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