THE SEX-abuse victim support group One in Four has confirmed that it received allegations in recent years concerning girls and young women in care who were abused by lay people.
One in Four director Colm O'Gorman was reacting to the news, reported in yesterday's Irish Independent, that the Archdiocese of Dublin has passed on to gardai new sex-abuse allegations involving members of a religious order and lay people.
The Archdiocese's Child Protection Service has told gardai of an allegation that men - including individuals prominent in society - had access to girls and young women in several residential institutions.
Responding to the allegation, Mr O'Gorman told the Irish Independent: "Among victim support groups, people are aware of sex-abuse allegations concerning prominent people connected with the State and also from civil society."
He mentioned the allegation made by TD Phil Hogan in the Dail in 2002 that a retired senior official in the Department of Education had been involved in a child-sex ring.
Christine Buckley of the Aislinn Centre, another victim support group, said she was "not remotely surprised" at the news that lay people are also alleged to have abused girls in institutional care.
"I wondered when this would come out. I have heard stories like this going back 20 years."
She said that on one occasion she was taken out of Goldenbridge orphanage for the day by a man and his wife.
"They took me home and when the wife went out for a walk with her daughters I woke up to find myself stripped from below the waist. "He was stripped off from below the waist as well.
"I managed to get away and lock myself in the bathroom until his wife came back.
"She saw my clothes thrown in a pile but didn't confront her husband about it."
(2) Gardai to Get File on Sexual Abuse of Girls in Care
Irish Independent, 17 May 2004 by Nicola Anderson and David Quinn
THE ARCHDIOCESE of Dublin will today pass on to gardai details of explosive claims that young women in care were victims of systematic sexual abuse by "prominent lay people".
Church authorities have been told that men were given access to girls and young women in three Magdalen laundries and two other institutions as recently as the 1970s. It is alleged these men physically and sexually abused them, while other workers within the care system turned a blind eye.
The Child Protection Service of the Archdiocese of Dublin confirmed last night that it will be passing on a report based on a former resident's allegations to both the Health Board and the gardai later today.
A woman who has detailed the claims last week became the first abuse-survivor to meet with the new Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin. The woman, who has spoken to the Irish Independent, had gathered together a file of evidence, including official reports, testimonies from former Magdalen girls and photographs.
She told of witnessing the gang rape of a 14-year-old girl in a Magdalen laundry by five men "who were not priests". It is understood the investigation will attempt to uncover details of this girl's identity and to discover why she subsequently disappeared.
Although the allegations do not accuse any diocesan personnel of carrying out abuse, Phil Garland, director of the Child Protection Service, said the Archdiocese had nevertheless taken on the case: "We didn't want to turn her away; someone has to take an interest in her story."
He said the report of the allegations would also be passed onto the provincial of the religious order named by the woman.
He also confirmed that a meeting took place between the Archbishop of Dublin and the woman. Dr Martin is currently out of the country and was not available to discuss details of the meeting.
The Archdiocese will also be undertaking its own investigation of the case.
(3) Woman's Abuse Claims Spark Probe
Irish Independent, 17 May 2004 by Nicola Anderson
Archbishop told of horrific treatment of girls inside institutions
A DUBLIN woman who spent over 13 years in Church and State institutions has sparked a major investigation with her account of the shocking and systematic abuse of girls by religious and lay people.
The new Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, last week held a two-hour meeting with the woman, who told of rapes, beatings and torture she said she had witnessed some 30 years ago.
One of the most disturbing claims is that a number of men appeared to have easy access to the girls and women in at least one of the institutions.
The woman, who wishes only to be known as Kathy, was committed to a mental institution at the age of seven on the advice of doctors, who claimed she had a "troubled mind".
At the age of 10, she was transferred to a Magdalen laundry. For the next decade she spent her time there, in various hospitals and in other institutions for adolescent girls in Dublin.
She told the Irish Independent that she and the other girls in care were subject to regular abuse at the hands of religious members and lay people in the laundries. She herself was regularly beaten.
One night, she said she watched in horror as a 14-year-old friend was repeatedly raped by five men.
She claimed that, because of the situation in which the girls were placed, they were raped, sexually abused, beaten, battered and left for dead.
She claimed several "top people" knew what was going on and were intent on covering it up. Almost 30 years ago, she told a priest of the abuse she had suffered and was shocked when he sat back and laughed and said nobody would ever believe her.
But she remained in contact with other girls from the laundries, and is now confident that, with the help of Archbishop Martin, the truth will be told. "When I saw him on Wednesday, a feeling of great relief came over me. I could see the compassion and pain on his face," she said.
Kathy met with members of the Child Protection Service of the Archdiocese some days later. She said they are happy with the file of allegations and testimonies furnished by her.
Archbishop Martin has no responsibility to direct an investigation into Kathy's claims since the allegations do not concern priests. However, the Child Protection Service said it could not turn her away: "Somebody has to take an interest in her story."
The Archbishop has also promised her he will back her in another matter - the replacing of a headstone in Glasnevin cemetery over the mass grave of former Magdalen laundry women who have died, which bears the legend: "Penitents".
Funding will be provided by the Archbishop to replace the cross with three headstones.