Friday, May 29, 2009

Will anyone ever learn?

Two things about the report into child abuse that came out last week. Firstly, I was struck by everyone's indignation about the deal done between Church and State that limited the congregations' contribution to re-compensation payment. That was a sneaky deal done for the Church's benefit, at the cost of the State. We have a right to be pissed off by it. But it's almost like this got people more agitated than the contents of the Ryan report itself. It's as if this angle on the story was easier to get a handle on than the reported instances of abuse, the number of children involved, the number of abusers involved (we can put the "few bad apples" argument to rest now), the nature of the abuse, the moneys involved, the complicity of doctors, judges, police, ISPCC and so on. And now that it looks like the 18 congregations involved are finally being coerced into doing the right thing, the heat of this issue has quickly lessened. For the first time since Thursday last week, this story hasn't made the front page of The Irish Times. It'll be quickly forgotten and something else will come along and get us all up in arms. Remember swine flu? That seems ages ago now.

The other issue from all this is a story by Carl O'Brien in Saturday's Irish Times (click here) where he tells us:

IT MAKES for shocking reading. The State knew that 20 deaths – many as a result of State neglect – took place within the space of a few years. Many vulnerable children were in accommodation that was not subject to any form of independent inspection. And all the while, the State was aware that 6,500 children were at risk of abuse or neglect.

These are disturbing findings. But they aren’t the conclusions of a State investigation into historical abuse of children in institutions. They are facts about children in State care today, where vulnerable young people continue to be failed by a system under severe strain.

So nothing's changed then.