Are effective apologies for historical institutional abuse possible?

woman, desperate, sad

Professor Anne-Marie McAlinden looks at some of the possibilities and challenges of constructing and delivering effective public apologies for historical institutional abuse. It has been said that we are living in the ‘age of apology’ where apology has become the customary response by political or public figures in times of scandal or crisis. This is evidenced, for example, by the abundance of apologies issued in the wake of the global #MeToo or #TimesUp movements. This broader trend has also been …

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It seems the Irish Catholic Church can now add slavery to its list of scandals…

Just when you think the reputation of the Irish Catholic Church can’t get any lower the Irish Independent reports on what amounts to slavery: A notorious industrial school in Limerick was paid to send boys under the age of 16 to work for traders, merchants and big farmers, according to hundreds of documents that have remained hidden for decades. Experts say the find demonstrates local communities were involved in the industrialisation and exploitation of marginalised children. There is no record …

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Politicians and how we treat them online

“Politics is a rough old trade”, John Major noted in his concession speech in 1997. I suppose it comes with the territory of being a politician, you put your name out there and you should be willing to take some flak from the public. Now, this is not a piece defending politicians I have to stress. I read dozens of news stories everyday and lament the missed opportunities and failures of leadership that we often see on our TV screens. …

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The Taoiseach: “I will ask them the question that the Deputy will not answer.”

There was a clear attempt at political revisionism this week, as the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, TD, sought to, as Anthony McIntyre put it, “claw back lost ground” following an “unprecedented” Leaders’ questions in the Dáil on Wednesday 22 Oct – aided and abetted by interventions from the legal representative of four of those accused, and acquitted, in the Maíria Cahill case. [added in-line link] This is the position the Sinn Fein president attempted to end the week with “I further understand that Peter …

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Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín: “I have no doubt that in the IRA modus operandi of the time that people were moved…”

With the out-going MP for Newry and Armagh, Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy, declaring his ignorance of alleged abusers in the republican movement being moved out of Northern Ireland – BBC report “I’ve never heard that in all my life as a republican,” [Conor Murphy] said. …it’s worth extracting from the Fireman’s post some quotes from the interview on Newstalk Breakfast with Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín – who, according to the SF website, is a “current member of the Sinn Féin Ard Comhairle.”  Here’s …

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Gerry Adams’ ‘delinquent’ story on the Cahill case?

UPDATED Alleged ‘abuse’ victim Maíria Cahill took to Twitter to reject a statement issued by Gerry Adams via the Sinn Féin website. Adams was reacting to allegations made on BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight: In his statement Adams said: In the Spotlight programme, broadcast last night, Mairia Cahill made an accusation relating to a meeting with myself. I totally refute the allegations Mairia made about our conversation. I met Mairia in good faith, at the behest of her cousin and my …

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“Being in the public eye may make him step into the shadows”

Abuse is a difficult subject. Domestic, or as in the case of Domhnall Ó Lubhlaí, or institutional. According to the US Institute of Medicine, disruption of the behaviour is an effective means to change patterns. The trouble is that perpetrators like Ó Lubhlaí and Jimmy Saville are often adept at hiding their activities even whilst holding a prominent place in public life. It’s worth listening to the experiences of Jahmene Douglas and his mother Mandy Thomas (http://goo.gl/gW8Kb starts about 2.20 …

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The Brendan Smith case and the church’s strange relations with the power of law

Just caught up with the latest on the Cardinal Brady story. Whatever way you cut it, it remains deeply disturbing. All the more so for Catholics because of the explicit connection between their faith and the authority of the church. But, I suspect, given the grim detail, only just. One passionate caller to Nolan yesterday morning called Seamus recalled one of the most powerful passages of the New Testament: Matthew 18:6. Look it up in whatever version suits your Catholic …

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“If an allegation of sexual abuse is made against a Sinn Féin member…”

According to a BBC report A former Sinn Fein councillor and widow of one of the most senior IRA leaders in Belfast is to be charged with cruelty and sexual offences. The report doesn’t give a source – I’m assuming it was the Public Prosecution Service – nor an indication of when the charges will be put. The BBC report comes in the wake of a weekend report in the Irish News where the alleged victim, Mary Meehan, waived her right to …

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