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Clerics ‘Hung heads in shame’

By Paul Ainsworth

SENIOR Catholic clerics, including Cardinal Seán Brady “hung their heads in shame” upon hearing graphic details of the abuse suffered by children in Nazareth House on the Ormeau Road, a victims’ campaigner has said.

Cardinal Brady and representatives of various religious orders, including the Sisters of Nazareth who ran the South Belfast institution, were this week confronted with the “no-holds barred” accounts of abuse survivors.

The meeting between Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (SAVIA) and top clerics in the bishop’s resident in Armagh, was to seek cooperation for the upcoming abuse inquiry in the North which will investigate claims of abuse dating back decades.

The SAVIA delegation, which included Lower Ormeau woman Margaret McGuckin, was told that the orders would begin combing through archives to uncover evidence relevant to any investigation.

During the summit chilling details of abuse in the South Belfast home and elsewhere were revealed to the clerics. Margaret said the accounts prompted Cardinal Brady to say it was the most “profound” meeting he has had so far in relation to the child abuse which has rocked the church.

“We have been told that the work to uncover records is underway, but we told them our stories of exactly what happened to us in terms of sexual, physical and emotional abuse,” said Margaret.

“The accounts were very graphic, but they needed to be to get the message of what we went through across.

“Cardinal Brady and others hung their heads in shame as we told them what these so-called religious people did. He told me after that it was the most profound meeting he has ever had in regards to abuse. We were graphic, but it needed to be done, as lives have been destroyed by abusers within the church.”

Following the meeting Cardinal Brady thanked Margaret and colleagues for their accounts, and said: “The representatives highlighted a number of issues for our consideration and response. These included acknowledging and believing the truth of their experience, that an apology would be given, and that there would be full cooperation with the inquiry.”




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