VICTIMS' HUNGER STRIKE OUTSIDE ARCHBISHOP'S HOUSE
Hunger Strike For Justice
Northside People Thursday, 27 May 2010
A NORTHSIDE man went on hunger strike last week to demand the arrest of Catholic clergy over abuse scandals.
Cabra man John Ayres took his dramatic action in the run up to the first anniversary of the publication of the harrowing Ryan Report.
Mr Ayres has been without food since Monday, May 17, to highlight the fact that no arrests have been made on foot of the damning report which revealed how the Catholic Church covered up almost four decades of sexual and physical abuse of children at the hands of priests and nuns.
Mr Ayres held his protest outside the Archbishop’s house in Drumcondra where children’s shoes lined the road outside to symbolise the victims of institutional abuse.
“I will go without food for as long as it takes to get an arrest in relation to the report,” he told Northside People.
“I would like something done to show that there is an actual criminal investigation into this.
“I feel that if people had been named and shamed in a report in relation to drug dealing that arrests would be made in a heartbeat.
“But for some reason institutional abuse seems to be not treated or considered as a criminal offence.”
Mr Ayres described how the publication of abuse impacted on him personally.
“When I was a young boy I was very badly physically abused,” he explained.
“I was abused by my parents and then I was put into various institutions where I got ferocious beatings.
“The publication of the report triggered everything I went through as a child and I’m sure the last year has been very traumatic for all those who suffered abuse as a kid.
“It is very undermining for the victims to know that there is a detailed and lengthy report naming and shaming those who perpetrated and covered up the abuse while little has been done to punish those involved.”
He added: “I’m standing here outside the Archbishop’s palace to let him and all other people know that victims of abuse haven’t gone away. We will keep up the pressure until the perpetrators of abuse are brought to book.”
Ballymun local Kevin Flanagan was due to join John on his hunger strike this week.
“We are stepping up our protest and we will continue until we are taken away in an ambulance,” he told Northside People.
“We have to do something to highlight just how little has been done in terms of criminal sanctions against the perpetrators of child abuse.
“It’s a scandal and many other people affected by the Ryan Report will join us each week in our hunger strike.”
Kevin’s brother Mickey was a boarder in Artane Industrial School in the 1950s where he was violently assaulted with a brush, sustaining concussion and a broken arm.
He was denied medical assistance for 60 hours while he was locked away in a shed. Mickey’s case is documented in the Ryan Report under a section titled ‘The Boy with the Broken Arm”.
Last week, a coalition of eight organisations involved in child welfare came out to strongly criticise the Government for failing to do enough to protect children.
The groups met to see what developments, if any, have been made in the year since the Ryan Report was published and whether survivors of abuse have been given access to the services and support they need.
Saving Childhood Ryan, the coalition of eight organisations, warned that the momentum for change in the wake of the Ryan Report has slowed considerably, with potentially dire consequences for children.
The Saving Childhood Ryan campaign involves Barnardos, CARI, Children's Rights Alliance, Irish Association of Young People in Care, ISPCC, One in Four, Rape Crisis Network of Ireland and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.
The group examined the 99 recommendations which were tabled in the aftermath of the report. It found that while some work is being done, overall it is “insubstantial, inadequate and too slow”.
Meanwhile, counselling services said they expected to see an increase in calls over the coming days as the subject is brought back into the spotlight.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is among a number of agencies offering a counselling service through its helpline number 1800-778888.