UN torture committee voices "serious concern" over State response to historical abuse

The committee said the State had failed to fully investigate and prosecute allegations of abuse

UN torture committee voices "serious concern" over State response to historical abuse

Flowers hang on the gates of the site of the former Magdalene Laundry in Donnybrook, 09-03-2017. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews

The UN Committee against Torture has voiced "serious concern" over the lack of information provided by Irish State regarding investigations into historical abuse outlined in the Ryan Report.

The committee has published its final report on the Irish Government’s performance on issues including historic institutional abuse, detention and healthcare.

It has warned that its call for the State to investigate all allegations of ill-treatment of women at the Magdalene Laundries have not been implemented.

It said the state has also failed to prosecute those responsible and ensure that victims get redress for their suffering.

It has urged the Government to collect data on all criminal investigations undertaken by the gardaí into allegations of abuse at religious run institutions.

Automatic response

It comes after the Irish delegation that attended the committee in July received sharp words from vice-chair Felice Gaer.

"It is time the Irish State stopped its automatic response to every scandal being to first deny, then delay, then lie, cover up and eventually of course throw some money at it and hope it goes away," she said.

Just one prosecution has stemmed from the Ryan report nearly nine years after it was published - despite 15,000 people reporting that they had suffered abuse.

Today the committee said it remains "seriously concerned" that the delegation had failed to provide further proof to back up its claim that authorities have carried out “a sizeable number of investigations” into allegations of abuse at institutions that have resulted in prosecutions and convictions.

It also voiced concern that the State had not provided information on the steps taken to encourage victims of abuse to come forward.

The committee also took aim at the Government's plan to dissolve the State Redress scheme in 2019.

Redress scheme

Solicitor Fiona Fox, who represents victims of institutional abuse warned that only 15,000 people out of the 170,000 that passed through the institutions received redress.

She said the redress scheme must be reopened.

"The State always talks about how much money was spent on redress," she said. "That is not a reflection on how much money the individuals got - they got very little."

"It is a reflection of how many individuals were damaged and affected so it wasn't enough because only a very small proportion of survivors got any help.

Transparent response

She said the only way for the State to move forward is to release the information requested by the committee immediately.

"In order for the State to avoid criticism that they are being uncooperative or maybe trying to hide something, they should just be up-front and find that information, obtain that information and release that information," she said. "This issue won't go away."

She said there remains a question mark as to whether the people who carried out the abuse are still at large in Ireland or elsewhere.

Read the report here