October 17th 2012
Prison Chaplains have said any society which takes children’s rights seriously cannot continue to turn its back on the abuse and neglect of children in St. Patrick’s Institution.
Fr. Ciaran Enright, a priest of the Dublin Diocese and head of the prison chaplaincy team, said they are already seriously concerned that the Prison Inspector’s report from Judge Reilly, published last night, is slipping off the public agenda like so many reports before it, from Whitaker 25 years ago to their own just two years ago.
In their annual report published in 2010, Prison Chaplains singled out St. Patrick’ Institution for particular mention, describing it as a “warehouse for young people many of whom were broken by childhood experiences”. They spoke at the time of a “harsh punitive system” where young people had a “demoralising, destructive and dehumanising experience; (a system) with few redeeming features characterised by idleness and boredom for young people who are full of energy.”
Fr. Enright added “it is incredible to drive along our streets this morning and see posters urging a ‘Yes for Children’ while we seem content to quietly ignore the plight of one particular group of children. I sincerely hope that Judge Reilly’s report will have a lasting impact; I sincerely hope the Department of Justice will make all changes necessary. Our experience working in St. Patricks has unfortunately taught us to be less than optimistic this will be the case.”
Fr. Enright said the lack of general public concern regarding the treatment of these children was hard to comprehend. He said that too often it was easier for us all to ignore children’s voices if they only emerge in the pages of reports. He said Chaplains were committed to doing all they can in the coming weeks to ensure than promises made today will be followed up.