Irish Examiner, 12 March 2004
I TAKE issue with Paddy Doyle (Irish Examiner letters, March 3) and his unjustified attack on Florence Horsman-Hogan, co-founder of Let Our Voices emerge LOVE).
In the first instance, Ms Horsman-Hogan never made the statement that 30% of the allegations of abuse against religious orders are false. In fact, she stated that 30% of accusations of child sexual abuse turn out to be false. Mr Doyle goes on to say that if LOVE or the British False Memory Society (BFMS) have a single shred of evidence to prove that there are false accusations of child sexual abuse, they must immediately hand it over to the police. Well I have news for Mr Doyle. Recently, the Department of Health saw fit to release the national statistics (taken from the eight health board areas) on figures for alleged or reported cases of child abuse/child sexual abuse for the period 1998-2001. No figures are available for the years 1990-1997 and the figures for the period 2002-2004 have not been collated to date.
What the statistics released by the Department of Health reveal is that for the four-year-period 1998-2001, 33,843 cases of all forms of alleged child abuse were reported to the eight health boards. Of these, 11,630 were confirmed as child abuse, 3,844 were deemed to be false accusations of child abuse and 967 were deemed to be false accusations of child sexual abuse. The remaining 22,213 reported cases of child abuse were deemed as inconclusive or ongoing. While these figures relate to the eight health boards they do not include statistics for the two dedicated units, St Louise’s in Crumlin, Dublin, and St Clare’s in Temple Street, Dublin.
Regarding St Louise’s, the hospital released (under FOI) statistics for the period 1987-1999. The unit received a total of 3,470 alleged cases of child sexual abuse. The unit confirmed that 1,273 were genuine cases of child sexual abuse. The unit also confirmed that 335 of these 3,470 cases of alleged child sexual abuse were false accusations. The remaining 2,225 alleged cases of child sexual abuse reported to the unit were deemed as unconfirmed or closed.
Regarding St Clare’s unit, they say they have no statistics!
Regarding the statistics released by the Department of Health, how many of these 33,843 cases reported to the health boards were reported to the gardaí? How many of the 3,844 cases of false accusations of child abuse were reported to gardaí? How many of the 967 cases of false accusations of child sexual abuse were reported to the gardaí? In recent times Pat Kenny, on his morning radio show, stated that false accusations of child abuse were small in number.
Colm O’Gorman, director of 1-in-4, publicly stated that false accusations of child sexual abuse were a rarity. The ISPCC have publicly stated that false accusations of child abuse are a myth. Clearly, the statistics released by the Department of Health indicate that false accusations of child abuse/child sexual abuse are not few in number, a rarity or a myth. What the statistics clearly indicate is that there is an epidemic of false accusations of child abuse/child sexual abuse and thousands of innocent Irish citizens are being falsely labelled as paedophiles, incestuous fathers and unfit mothers or parents.
Although there have been many complaints to the gardaí regarding false accusations of child sexual abuse, to the best of our knowledge no one has been prosecuted or convicted.
Finally, Mr Doyle asks what percentage of those accused of abuse might be making false protestations of innocence? In our modern society there will always be those who protest their innocence of alleged criminal offences. Unfortunately, there are no statistics for false protestations of innocence. So I would say to Mr Doyle, wake up and smell the coffee: innocent people have been, and will continue to be, falsely accused of child abuse, particularly child sexual abuse.
Edward P Hernon,
Letters to the Editor, Irish Examiner. Published.