Taoiseach apologises on behalf of the state and its citizens to the victims of institutional child abuse.
The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced the establishment of a Commission of Enquiry into Childhood Abuse with the primary focus of providing victims with an opportunity to tell their stories of the abuse they suffered.
On behalf of the state and all the citizens of the state, the government wishes to make a sincere and long overdue apology to the victims of childhood abuse for our collective failure to intervene, to detect their pain and to come to their rescue.
The commission will then establish a complete a picture as possible of the causes and extent of physical and sexual abuse of children.
The Christian Brothers, who ran many of the state's industrial schools, are already the subject of the biggest Garda inquiry ever into child sex abuse. Commenting on the establishment of the new commission, Brother David Gibson said,
We would hope from the commission that the good and the bad would be seen and we would also hope that brothers who were involved in these institutions would come forward to tell their story.
A nationwide professional counselling service is also to be established at a cost of around £4 million a year. The Taoiseach also announced that the government is to extend the time limit for victims of child sexual abuse wishing to take court action for compensation.
Jacinta Madden of Lavelle Coleman Solicitors explains that people can now make claims beyond the previous three year restriction.
These announcements coincide with the broadcast of the three part documentary 'States of Fear', the final episode of which was broadcast on 11 May 1999. This episode reveals that children at Madonna House in Dublin complained of sexual abuse for eight years before anything was done.
The Report on the Inquiry into the Operation of Madonna House referred to the Sisters of Charity who ran the home as incompetent. States of Fear also details several cases of sexual abuse of boys by three convicted paedophiles at Saint Joseph's Industrial School in Kilkenny.
Ahead of the broadcast of the final episode, Sr Una O'Neill of the Sisters of Charity says,
As a congregation, we are increasingly appalled and angered as each new case of abuse emerges.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 11 May 1999. The reporter is Joe Little.