Letters to the Editor

Incumbent upon Church to make reparation to abuse victims

Three senior care staff at Kincora were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys 

On March 15 the Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (Savia) presented a Report at Stormont – What Survivors Want from Redress.

This document, compiled by survivors, with the help of local and international experts, is a vitally important statement addressed to both Church and State.

I was privileged to be invited to Stormont to stand with the victims and survivors of institutional abuse on that important occasion. I too am a survivor of child abuse and I am one of the victims of former priest James Donaghy, a convicted paedophile and sexual predator.

Those represented on March 15 suffered at the hands of both Church and state in the north of Ireland. Those present included victims of Termonbacca, Nazareth House, Rubane, Kincora and Rathgael, to name but some.

The anguish of those abused in these Church and state-run institutions is similar. The devastation and ongoing trauma is the same. The Christian community and wider society has an inescapable obligation and duty, to address victims’ and survivors’ needs as outlined in the report.

The continuous attempts by the British establishment to cover up the evil perpetrated on young residents of Kincora Boys’ Home is shocking and must be persistently pursued, exposed and challenged until truth and justice prevail.

As a priest, however, I must speak particularly about those children who were brutally abused – sexually, physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically, in Catholic Church-run orphanages and other such institutions.

God has clearly revealed in the teaching of the Apostle Paul the truth that all the baptised are inextricably linked with one another. In St Paul’s enunciation of the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Holy Spirit declares that if any part – even the tiniest part – of Christ’s Body is hurt, all the other parts of the Body are also hurt and they suffer too. (I Corinthians 12:12-26).

In view of this Divinely revealed truth, there can be no excuse before God for any withholding by the Church of any redress, whatsoever, that is needed and sought by the victims and survivors of those establishments presided over by Catholic clergy and religious.

During this Jubilee Year of Mercy it is absolutely incumbent upon us, as the Church responsible for the horrific sufferings inflicted upon these lambs of the Lord’s flock to make reparation to them by providing, without any equivocation or excuse, every support, both monetary and in every otherwise.

It is the very least that we can do, as the Body of Christ, for those so brutally betrayed by those who were facilitated and afterwards protected  by a corrupt and dysfunctional ecclesiastical system.

Crossgar, Co Down


Make day centres’ campaign and election issue

Since November 2015 there has been a highly successful campaign to keep open three day centres at Whiterock, Everton and Ravenhill that provide vital support for people with mental health and learning difficulties.  These centres have been threatened with closure by the Belfast Trust as a means to cut costs and outsource the services currently provided by NHS staff to the community and voluntary sector.

The Belfast Health Trust plans have been thwarted by a very vocal and energetic group of service users, carers and supporters. The Belfast Health Trust hoped that they could have rubber stamped the decision at a board meeting on January 14. The trust board was forced to defer its decision by the tireless work of service users, carers, trade unions and supporters  who gathered thousands of signatures on petitions, handed out thousands of leaflets and organised numerous public protests.

There is a rising confidence by the service users and carers in the Save Our Day Centres Campaign as recent meetings with senior management have indicated it is likely the decision, if at all, will not be made until after the assembly elections. The trust board is rattled by the public campaign that exposes how they are willing to put at risk the mental health and physical well being of more than 200 service users, carers and families.

Service users are gaining confidence they are winning this campaign but understand it is critical now to turn up the heat on the board. The trust board has made it very clear the decision lies with the health minister and the assembly. The  health minister may change after the elections, so it is essential this becomes an election issue.

The Save Our Day Centres Campaign now demands all assembly parties must now state openly if they will halt this consultation if it comes to the assembly after the election.  

Nipsa, Belfast


Refugee poker

Turkey is blackmailing Europe by looking for billions of Euros to support the refugees in camps in Turkey, therefore obviating the need for the refugees to come to Europe.  

The bleeding heart liberals (including President Higgins) are in favour of this, but a little reflection gives a different perspective.

Turkey has long supported the Isis terrorists in Syria and Iraq, as part of (Sultan) Erdogan’s mad plan to create a new Sunni Muslim Ottoman empire. Turkey has attacked Kurds in Syria, Iraq and also in Turkey itself. The south east of Turkey (Kurdish area) has become a war-zone with war-crimes committed daily against the local Kurdish civilians by the Turkish military. In other words Turkey has been partly responsible for creating the refugee problem, and has the chutzpah to ask Europe to pay for the problem that it has created.

Europe can show leadership by supporting Syria and Iraq in its quest to rid both countries of the Isis Sunni Muslim terrorists; support the peace process in Syria so that the refugees can return home; kick Turkey out of Nato because of its support of Isis; stop supporting Saudi Arabia  militarily because of its support for Isis and its war-crimes in Yemen; sanctioning (Sultan) Erdogan for profiteering from supporting Isis.

The €6bn would be better off spent in Syria rehousing refugees  rather than supporting the fascist Erdogan regime.

Belfast BT6


SDLP’s rearguard action

John Manley (March 14) clearly wasn’t impressed by the SDLP’s party conference in Derry.

However, I’m surprised that he didn’t see the irony of it all.

Faced with a challenge from Martin McGuinness to their party’s hegemony in Derry the SDLP retreated behind the city’s walls and slammed the gates shut to keep the ‘Fenian hordes’ at bay.

In a scene reminiscent of the Belfast flag protest where a woman’s defiant scream was filmed from behind the door of Belfast City Hall, the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and his comrades trooped onto St Columb’s Hall to render their own version of ‘No surrender’ at Sinn Féin as they circle the city’s walls.

I half-expected to see the Lambeg drums wheeled out to summon the massed ranks of the Apprentice Boys in defence of the city and the SDLP.

In truth I think everyone knows that the SDLP is valiantly fighting a rearguard action in Derry while they desperately await a Fianna Fáil relief column led by that other Martin; yes, Micheál.

Micheál says the ‘soldiers of destiny’ will put up candidates for the Northern Ireland Assembly after 2019 but the overriding question is can the besieged SDLP hold out until 2019 while Micheál hums and haws in Cork?

Belfast BT9


Historical documents online for free

Anyone unable or unwilling to spend £300 on the Sinn Féin ‘Rebellion Handbook under the hammer’ (March 24) a PDF copy is available online at gcd.academia.edu/NiallMeehan/Teaching-Documents.

There are other items of historical interest available, including Ourselves Alone in Ulster by Alice Stopford Green; GB Kenna’s Facts and Figures of the Belfast Pogroms; Hugh Martin’s Ireland in Insurrection, an Englishman’s Record of Fact.

Griffith College Dublin

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Letters to the Editor