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Saturday 24 February 2018

Abuse victims voice support for controversial memorial at hearing

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

TWO outspoken survivors of industrial school abuse have voiced their support for a controversial memorial for abuse victims at Dublin's Garden of Remembrance.

An Bord Pleanala is holding three days of oral hearings after an appeal was lodged against the Commissioner of Public Works plans to erect a €500,000 'Journey of Light' memorial to honour the childhood victims of physical and sexual abuse at State-run industrial schools and reformatories.

The memorial, designed by Dublin-based Studio Negri, includes a covered passageway that is illuminated at night, surrounded by fossilised limestone walls and waterfalls that would be located behind the 'Children of Lir' monument to the heroes of the 1916 Rising at the Garden of Remembrance off Parnell Square.

But objectors, including the Irish Georgian Society, Irish Survivors of Child Abuse and Dublin city councillor Mannix Flynn, who is also a survivor of industrial school abuse, claim the structure is inappropriate for the Garden of Remembrance and is out of sync with the Georgian-era architecture in the vicinity.

During the opening day of hearings this morning, abuse survivor, author and counselling psychologist Bernadette Fahy said there is "unquestionable robust support for the project from many of the survivor groups."

She said she believes it's a "symbolic acknowledgement and a place of remembrance and of potential healing" and a place where former industrial school residents and their families can come to acknowledge the suffering of the victims and "mourn the pain of the victims to whom the memorial is dedicated."

Fellow abuse survivor and author Paddy Doyle said the majority of abuse survivors favour the project as a "fitting testament" to the children who were abused as well as a memorial for their children and grandchildren.

Both Ms Fahy and Mr Doyle are members of the Memorial committee that was set up following the publication of the Ryan Report in June 2009 that found widespread abuse of children in 150  industrial schools and reformatories.

The erection of a memorial honouring the victims was among one of Judge Ryan's key recommendations.

The hearing continues this afternoon with more submissions from both opponents and supporters of the proposed memorial that was approved by Dublin City Council in May.

Irish Independent

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