Friday 18 October 2019

'It is our holocaust'

The emotions differed in each individual who marched but all were there to show solidarity, says Geetha Nicodemus

THEIR knees hurt and some were frail. Walking from Parnell Square to Leinster House was too far for some. But they wanted to show their solidarity with the victims of clerical abuse last Wednesday, and they wanted to fight for a safe future for their grandchildren.

So they stood at different spots along the route at distances they knew they could manage to walk. As the crowd approached they held hands to support each other and walked up to join the march. Their emotions ranged from quietly sombre to anger, to tears, and their voices choked as they spoke.They expressed disbelief at the callous way the issue of child abuse had been handled all these years, and they walked in the hope that God was walking with them this day for justice.

"Ours is not a country of dancing leprechauns, shared laughter and of thousands of smiles. This story is our genocide. It is no different from the 1890 story of Indians in Canada where 50,000 kids died in institutions," said Damien Moore who spent seven years at St Vincent's Orphanage, Glasnevin.

Frances McEnroe walked with a little boy in one hand and a placard which listed four victims in the other, all of them her family members: father, grandmother, and two uncles. Only one of her uncles is alive, and she was hoping he was participating in the walk so she could catch a glimpse of him. She grew up listening to her father's stories of the abuse he had to endure at an institution but the depth of its cruelty was clear to her only now that it is has come into the open with the Ryan report. "My father died in 1994. If he were alive today he would have been very pleased to know that this has been brought out into the open", she said.

Aidan Kearney, a concerned citizen walking in support of the victims, said: "It is the worst thing that has ever happened in our country, it is our holocaust. It is a shame on the Constitution and the Church, two pillars of our society who have failed us. "

Susan Moran a student from UCD also walked simply in solidarity. "I am not afraid of Catholic institutions anymore" she said. Her colleague Adrienne Hawley from the US expressed her shock at what has been learnt about abuse in state institutions and believes that this could be an issue all over the world.

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss