Ballybunion man James Sugrue said he is ‘desperately disappointed’ at Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman’s recent announcement on RTÉ Radio that no plans are in place to pay redress to boarded-out survivors of abuse under the mother-and-baby homes financial redress scheme.
James suffered years of physical and sexual abuse when fostered out to a couple in Kilgarvan when he was just eight years old. His brothers, Michael and David also suffered horrendous abuse after they were abandoned by their mother at the County Home in Killarney in 1959.
In an interview with The Kerryman last February, James gave a devastating account of the treatment he and his siblings received at the hands of their abusers. Since telling his story, James has campaigned with two other boarded-out survivors to be included in the mother-and-baby homes financial redress scheme.
James, along with survivors Eddie McEntee and Gerry Devaney, met with Minister O’Gorman earlier this year to state their case. Despite recognition of the awful ordeal they endured, this announcement comes a major blow. But James is determined to carry on the fight.
“I was desperately disappointed. Not totally shocked but shocked enough the way he actually put it while being interviewed on morning radio. He just bluntly said there was no redress for us, he didn’t give any other explanation,” said James.
James also feels the Minister’s revelation is ‘callous’ given he had been so sympathetic to his plight when they initially met to discuss his story.
“I felt it was very callous. He kept his word when he listened and spoke to us. He was very disturbed by the content of my account. He asked why I didn’t do a criminal investigation. I did but it didn’t get anywhere. Every survivor I know who has tried criminal proceedings, the DPP said no further action,” said James.
James explained that his story was validated by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in the Dáil in July when a question on his behalf was put to the Tánaiste about redress.
“He [Tánaiste] acknowledged that boys like us were used as farm labourers and girls as domestics. He said the treatment was something the government can’t ignore. He said that both he and Mr O’Gorman felt the same,” James said.
“The fight has probably begun now more than anything. I hope people come forward and we can form some kind of a group that will present themselves and be seen and heard, even if we have to go and stand outside the Dáil and protest.
“They have to look at this again. It is totally unfair to boarded out children who suffered just as badly as children in the industrial schools. We have to be one voice. At the end of the day it is our elected parliamentarians who must stand up for us.
“I don’t know why they are so reluctant not to include us and ignore us. We have never been given the opportunity to give our account on what happened to us. I think we need to be given some platform to be given our account,” he said.