Irish Child Abuse Report: 'People Know The Truth'

Report unveils decades of Catholic Church abuse affecting thousands of children.

ByABC News
May 21, 2009, 12:56 PM

LONDON, May 22, 2009— -- Tom Hayes' first memories are those of the physical abuse he suffered in a school run by priests of the Christian Brothers' congregation in Limerick county, Ireland.

More than 50 years after Hayes, 62, was sexually abused by an older monitor in his school, the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse in Ireland's reform schools has released its final report. Now Hayes told ABC News that he's "glad the report was published in his lifetime."

More than 3,000 abuse victims sent applications to the Commission to have their stories heard. The report chronicles "endemic and repeated" sexual, physical and motional abuse by Catholic priests and nuns to children in the period from 1930 until the Catholic Churchchurch-run institutions were closed in the 1990's.

Cardinal Sean Brady, leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland responded to the report, saying, "I am profoundly sorry and deeply ashamed that children suffered in such awful ways in these institutions. Children deserved better and especially from those caring for them in the name of Jesus Christ.''

Tom Hayes was among the 30,000 children placed Ireland's network of industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages and other state-run institutions, after his single mother was deemed unsuitable to raise him. Hayes went through his life believing he was an orphan until the government's Freedom of Information Act allowed him to access his family files in 2003. Unfortunately, Hayes never got a chance to meet his mother, who died in 2001.

As secretary of the Alliance Support Group giving access to legal and psychological support to other victims, Hayes believes the Commission's report is lacking in that "it doesn't make a strong enough distinction between orphans and the majority of children who were placed in these institutions as a result of petty crime and truancy."

He explains that the report does not accurately portray the role played by the Irish Justice System, as children age 2 and up were criminalized simply because they were illegitimate.