Pope's visit

Anti-clerical abuse protests held during Pope's visit

Abuse victims campaigner Margaret McGuckin
Aoife Moore, Press Association

One of several protests against clerical child sexual abuse was held near Dublin Castle this morning.

The protest was organised by Margaret McGuckin, a survivor of historic child abuse who spent years in the Nazareth House children's home in Belfast and helped campaign for the introduction of the north's Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry.

Ms McGuckin says the protest is a symbolic gesture to the Pope and the church that victims have not gone away.

She said: "The Pope now needs to stand up to the plate and do something for the survivors. We need redress, we need the church held to account.

"We want the bishops, Christian Brothers, nuns and anyone else who was involved in the abuse of children or covering up the abuse of children brought before the courts.

"We need zero tolerance, they cannot be allowed to investigate themselves. It should be zero tolerance, nothing more and nothing less.

"It's not just Ireland, look what has happened in America, people fall away from the church because they don't practice what they preach."

 Pairs of baby shoes in Dublin's Sean McDermott Street in memory of the children who died at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby home in Tuam, Co Galway. Picture by Brian Lawless, Press Association

During her time in Nazareth House, Ms McGuckin says she was beaten, starved, neglected, emotionally, physically and mentally abused at the hands of nuns charged with her care.

Banners were unfurled at Dublin's Dame Street demanding redress for victims and an end to what they see as a Papal cover-up.

Many at the protest were from the global survivors network End Clergy Abuse who had baby shoes tied around their neck in protest for the children who died in the Mother and Baby Homes across Ireland.

Pope Francis speaking at Dublin Castle. Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association

Pete Saunders, a survivor who was abused in a Jesuit school in London, travelled from England's capital to attend the protest.

"I came to Ireland to give support to survivors here.

"If this was any other organisation in the world, the head of that organisation would be held to account to tackle the issue within his company.

"The people involved should be brought to justice. Words are very nice but we would like to see action."

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Pope's visit

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