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Falsely Accused Families Seek Inquiry

Irish Examiner, 6th February 2002, by Evelyn Ring

NOTHING short of a full public statutory inquiry will satisfy the families falsely accused of child sex abuse who insist the State must be held accountable. Eddie Hernon of VOCAL Ireland said people like him had their lives destroyed by Dr Moira Woods in the 1980s when she headed the Sexual Assault Trauma Unit in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin.

Mr Hernon said he got closure from the Medical Council's decision to censure Dr Woods, but felt the State must be held accountable for her actions. "People like me were put through a mangle and left like that. Its outrageous." Liam Ó Gogáin, chairperson of Parental Equality, is now leading the campaign for the statutory inquiry. "Openness and truth is what we want. The facts are good enough," he said.

Mr Ó Gogáin knew Mr Hernon for 10 years and admired how, with very little resources, he took on the might of the Medical Council to try and get justice for all of the families involved. "That man spent the last 16 years on disability benefit and living as a vilified person in the community. He is an obsessed man because no one could survive that without being obsessed."

The tribunal they want would be along the lines of the Lindsay Tribunal that investigated how haemophiliacs contracted HIV and hepatitis C from infected blood products. "Dr Woods carried out 600 evaluations in one year and that level of productivity defies all sorts of logic," said Mr Ó Gogáin.

Parental Equality, which has been campaigning since 1992 for equal treatment for fathers and mothers, particularly in relation to shared parenting and joint custody, said it had received a phenomenal number of calls from fathers who said they had allegations of false sexual abuse made against them. Mr Ó Gogáin said some were even threatened with an allegation of abuse if they continued to try and develop a relationship with their children. Mr Ó Gogáin said it was only by having a public statutory inquiry that the veil of secrecy from the in-camera courts would be lifted. "The families involved are so destroyed they cannot get back together again because the memory will haunt them forever."

He intended to release a CD within the next four to six weeks outlining the child abuse controversy and those involved. Copies of the CD will be sent to various statutory bodies, including the Medical Council and health care professionals.

"The Medical Council spent more than €952,000 on a five-year investigation into the conduct of Dr Woods, a fraction of that money is what we need to tell the truth."