A religious order has issued an unconditional apology to all the children who suffered abuse in its orphanages and industrial schools throughout Ireland.
The Sisters of Mercy, who ran the notorious Goldenbridge Orphanage in Dublin, issued a statement admitting that past apologies had been “less than complete” for those “hurt and damaged while in our care”.
“Now without reservation we apologise unconditionally to each one of you for the suffering we have caused. We ask forgiveness for our failure to care for you and protect you in the past and our failure to hear you in the present,” the order said.
Previous statements by the order had attempted to blame a lack of resources for the suffering experiences by children in its institutions.
Christine Buckley, whose experiences at Dublin’s Goldenbridge orphanage, run by Mercy nuns, featured in RTE’s 1996 programme Dear Daughter, said last night the Sisters of Mercy “should be congratulated” on the apology and for accepting they had caused suffering to former residents. “Most importantly, they have believed us,” she said.
Ms Buckley, the unwanted baby of a Nigerian medical student and a married Dublin woman, was abandoned at three weeks and raised in Goldenbridge where she suffered regular beatings and humiliation.
There was “a great sense of pride” that what former residents had been saying all along about what they had suffered in the institutions was being acknowledged.
The One in Four group also said it wanted to acknowledge and commend the courage and vision of yesterday’s statement and the unambiguous nature of the apology.
Meanwhile, a hunger strike undertaken by a victim of institutional abuse outside the Dublin parliament for over three weeks, has ended after 22 days.
Dublin man Tom Sweeney’s dramatic campaign on the steps of Leinster House over his alleged mistreatment by the redress system for abuse victims in the 26 Counties led to growing concern over his health.
Sinn Féin’s Sean Crowe said “many, many people” were not happy with the procedures of the redress system, particularly around the issue of recounting their experience.
The unease over state handling of the issue was reflected in the North, where the publication of proposals for services for the survivors of sexual abuse was this week controversially postponed until June 2005.
“This delay will do nothing to alleviate the ever growing waiting list of survivors of such abuse who wish to access proper counselling”, said Sinn Féin Assembly member John O’Dowd.