Ireland's Child Care Institutions during the 20th. Century. Fo'T: The most vivid and passionate stories - banished babies, cruel orphanages, old abuses of power - have concerned things that went unnoticed, or at least unarticulated, at the time. News has often had to be redefined, not as the latest sensation but as that which everybody knew all along yet could not say.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Ferns Inquiry 'spin' should stop, says O'Gorman

SPECULATION about the content of the imminent report into clerical sexual abuse in Wexford is not just inaccurate, it is also unhelpful, according to one of the support groups for victims involved in the probe. A series of newspaper reports in the past few days and increasing speculation as to the nature and content of the final report of the Ferns Inquiry due to be published shortly are "spin" and could well detract from the ultimate findings of the report, according to One in Four director Colm O'Gorman.

In a letter to newspapers today, Mr O'Gorman, a victim of the late Fr Sean Fortune in Ferns, asks people to stop speculating about the report's content.

"Whilst the significant and pressing interest of all is, in the context of the report, understandable, it may prove to be both inaccurate and unhelpful. In the absence of the final published report of the inquiry there can be little value in speculating as to its content and findings. Our purpose in seeking the establishment of this inquiry, indeed my primary purpose when I wrote to the then Minister for Health and Children Micheal Martin in March 2002, was to seek an examination of how these issues were responded to by both Church and State authorities and to lay the evidence of those facts before the public. The point of any inquiry of this nature in setting out the detail of such responses must be to both name and respond to past failures and work to ensure that such appalling failures are never again permitted to happen," he said.

Its purpose cannot be to provide salacious headlines in the press or to feed any "public appetite for scandal", he added. "It is my hope that the final report will focus on the evidence presented and detail that evidence in a clear, objective manner." It is believed that up to 200 victims of clerical sexual abuse gave testimony to the inquiry. Among them were victims of Fr Sean Fortune, Fr Jim Grennan and boys abused at St Peter's College in Wexford. The inquiry sought to identify what complaints have been made against clergy in the Diocese of Ferns and whether the response to those complaints was adequate. It also considered the response of the diocesan, Church and State authorities to cases of sexual abuse involving priests of the Diocese of Ferns.

* March 2002: BBC screens Suing the Pope, documenting the abuse in the diocese of Ferns.
* April 1, 2002: Bishop of Ferns Brendan Comiskey resigns.
* April 4, 2002: Then Health Minister Micheál Martin appoints senior counsel George Birmingham to compile a preliminary report on clerical sexual abuse in the diocese. It is completed in August.
* July 2003: Ferns inquiry begins.
* October 2005: Report due to go to the Tánaiste and the DPP.

By Neans McSweeney, South East Correspondent, Irish Examiner


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