Barnardos deplores Brother’s remarks
SEARCH FOR JUSTICE: THE CHIEF executive of Barnardos, Fergus Finlay, has criticised remarks by a Christian Brothers spokesman that abuse victims seeking justice should seek it from the relevant authorities.
Christian Brothers communications director Br Edmund Garvey said that preserving the anonymity of alleged perpetrators in the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse would not prevent victims from getting justice.
“What I do hope will happen is that anybody who still wants to seek justice in relation to this can go both to the authorities of the State, our own congregation, can go to the police, can go to the courts, can go to the social services and those other authorities and seek the justice that they want,” he said on Newstalk’s Breakfast show.
Mr Finlay said he was “almost tongue-tied” at the suggestion that the onus should be on the victim of crime to seek justice.
“This is not ever, and cannot ever be a situation where the onus must be on the shoulders of people who were grievously sinned against,” Mr Finlay said.
Br Garvey said that as people sought justice and came to the order for help, “I absolutely agree with him and believe that it is our obligation and duty to be with them and support them in that”.
He again apologised for the order’s handling of complaints and expressed regret that the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse found that denial was often the congregation’s first response.
“If position No 1, in the perception of the commission, was denial, then I deeply, deeply regret that. I apologise for that. However, today I want to say that I accept what Judge Ryan and his commission have found in the report.”
He said the report that a child was told to lick faeces from the shoes of a Brother was “appalling and abhorrent. It’s unbelievable. Words don’t describe it and really and truly there is no way as a congregation we will turn around and deny that today.”
It was also “totally unacceptable” to knowingly move an abuser to another location where they could abuse again.
“And certainly again we have to accept responsibility for that . . . and yes we acknowledge that it was a total systems failure,” he said.
“It should never have happened, and particularly it should never have happened in the name of Christ.”
Br Garvey said the order had learned “a huge lesson”.
“And I do believe there have been significant changes in the approaches, particularly, I would say, over the last 10 years. If somebody approaches us now, I hope and pray that there’s a very different atmosphere, a very different climate and a very different series of actions whereby we’ll support them in whatever they want to do.”
He said that, for more than a decade, the order had been asking itself what had dehumanised clerics so much that they carried out these activities. “We really have been asking ourselves what kind of life do we lead . . . and what kind of humanity do we grow and develop in ourselves as we seek to serve others.”