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Laffoy Report highlights shameful role of Department of Education

3 February, 2004


Speaking during statements on the Third Interim Report of the Commission to Enquire into Child Abuse Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe TD described as shameful the role of the Department of Education in dealing with the Commission.

Deputy Crowe said, "I would like to begin tonight by joining other members in saying that full credit is due to Justice Laffoy for her role in both the work of the Commission and in bringing the negligence of the Department of Education to light. Her report is a terrible indictment of both the Department of Education and of the religious institutions, who have been allowed, and it is only barely a figure of speech, to get away with murder.

"The Department has failed to provide the support the Commission needed. Instead of being an ally in finding the truth, the Department has been an obstacle, whose files have to be torn from the hands of civil servants. Where there should have been co-operation, there was outright opposition. The Government wasted €650,000 in preparing what was deemed to be an inadequate response last June to the committee's order for discovery.

"Reading the reactions from the survivors lobby groups to the most recent report they seem to be unanimous on one issue, they all believe that the Department‚s position is no longer tenable. The conflict of interest between the Department and the Commission is something members on this side of the House have repeatedly pointed to. It must surely be clear by now that the Department cannot continue to be the body that provides the funding while at the same time fighting the Commission every step of the way when its own role and conduct in the investigation has been such a disgrace.

"The role of the religious orders in this is, with few exceptions, no less shameful than that of the Department. They have fought the Commission every single step of the way, contesting every fact, disputing even what Justice Laffoy refers to as matters 'of indisputable historical fact.' If some religious orders are prepared to co-operate I do not see why the rest cannot when the Government has already made them exempt from paying any more than €128 million.

"Between the religious orders and the Department of Education we have what almost appears to be collusion in making it as difficult as possible for the Commission to arrive at the truth in this matter.

"It is time for Minister Dempsey to go, time for the Department of Education to be taken out of this process. Whatever shards of credibility it had left when Justice Laffoy resigned, it has none now. While the Department remains involved, the Commission will proceed without the confidence of the victims, the body politic or the people." ENDS

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