What should happen following the revelations of institutional child abuse?

On 11 May 1999, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern apologised to the victims of institutional child abuse on behalf of the state and its citizens.

The apology was made along with the announcement of a number of measures relating to institutional child abuse including the establishment of a commission of inquiry and a professional counselling service for victims. 

For some victims, these measures may be too late.

Following the apology, 'Morning Ireland' asks will the commission of inquiry have the powers to investigate what really happened. Presenter Richard Crowley is joined by Richard Bruton of Fine Gael, Róisín Shortall of Labour, Micheál Martin Minister for Education and 'States of Fear' series producer Mary Raftery.

Mary Raftery welcomes the government's apology and the establishment of the inquiry into abuse which she describes as "alarmingly widespread".  

Rósín Shortall also welcomes the government's announcement but believes that the scale of the abuse is so widespread that she finds it difficult to see how the commission will be able to deal with it. Instead, she is calling for an investigation on an institution by institution basis. 

Richard Bruton highlights the need for independent inspection and scrutiny of the institutions, and the establishment of an Ombudsman for Children. 

It took three very powerful television programmes and the public's revulsion at what they saw to get the action that was necessary.

Micheál Martin acknowledges the failings of successive governments in not dealing with the issue and says that the Taoiseach is committed to the issue. He points to previous revelations from other documentaries such as 'Dear Daughter' (1996) documenting Christine Buckley's experience at the Goldenbridge orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy.  Micheál Martin says that having met some of the victims and listened to their stories, their needs should be central to the inquiry. 

The commission will have whatever powers they require to pursue their work.

This episode of 'Morning Ireland' was broadcast on 12 May 1999. The presenter is Richard Crowley.