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Religious Orders Need to Act Against Fraudsters

Life is Never What it Seems
The Kingdom (Co. Kerry), 15 September 2005

I’M not surprised to hear that a human rights group, Let Our Voices Emerge, or LOVE for short, is thinking of suing the State for the suffering and trauma caused to victims of false accusations of sexual, physical, emotional abuse in residential institutions. Real abuse victims deserve justice and redress. That goes without saying.

But the Residential Institutions Redress Board (RIRB) has blighted, besmirched, and destroyed the good names of many people who have been accused of abuse activities but have never been charged, let alone convicted of the alleged offences in a law court.

The Board works like this: A person who makes an abuse allegation in a situation where the sole evidence is his or her own “word of honour” account of what happened can be compensated for the alleged crime without any hint of a legal stain attaching to the character of the accused person.

Unfortunately, the accused person, though not publicly named and shamed for his or her unproven crime, or subjected to the normal judicial process, has to live with the appalling stigma of that unproven and legally untested allegation.

And the accuser has the right, enshrined in law, to total anonymity.

So small wonder that a group of concerned citizens appear set to challenge the Board’s Orwellian form of “justice”.

I am baffled, though, by the response of religious orders to the news that LOVE wants to take on the scam merchants. Instead of tackling false abuse allegations head on, the brothers, priests, and nuns prefer to speak of remorse, penitence, and of praying for their enemies.

Such attitudes, and the apologies these orders have made to real abuse victims, are commendable. We can admire all the good men and women who hope and pray that things will get better bye and bye.

Unfortunately, life is not always, despite what the prayer says, on earth as it is in Heaven.

This is not Heaven. Or anything like it. It’s bad old Mother Earth where money-mad fraudsters will do or say anything to get their greasy hands on some hard cash or a nice compensation cheque.

The religious orders need to really get their act together and present a united front against false accusers cashing in on the abuse-hysteria witch-hunt.

John Fitzgerald,
Lower Coyne Street,
Co Kilkenny.