Six decades of victims of sexual and physical abuse took to the streets this week after the recent Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA) report came to light in Ireland. After nine long years of hearings and investigation, an enormous five-volume, 3,000-page account of these sadistic practices in Irish religious schools now bears witness as proof of the horrors thousands of children have undergone at the hands of those they were supposed to be able to trust.
Despite this victory, much more needs to be done, as this report does not hold those responsible in any of the 216 institutions accountable; nor does the Catholic church itself. In fact, Judge Sean Ryan, who presided over the investigation, personally promised anonymity to the perpetrators of these crimes.
And without the closure needed–the justice that should be enforced–survivors are left feeling empty.
“There is nothing by way of justice in any means significant in this report, nothing… We were encouraged by this commission to open our wounds. We did this and they’ve been left gaping open,” says John Kelly, coordinator of the Survivors of Child Abuse campaign.
On Wednesday, thousands of people gathered at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance to stand in solidarity with these child-workers who, despite the much-delayed acknowledgment of their suffering, have yet to find real justice. Marchers wore white and walked in silence, leaving wreaths and children’s shoes at the Dáil entrance to symbolize the loss of innocence at the hands of the Church and government.
Some marchers described the abuse as Ireland’s “mini Halocaust.” Participants also signed petition which read, “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.”
Though this act of solidarity between victims and those who are simply enraged at the injustice provides a moment of solace in a very dark situation, it is up to everyone to keep the pressure going in the call for true justice for these crimes.