The report from an official inquiry into widespread child sex abuse has delivered “a day of justice long overdue for those who suffered in these institutions run by church and state”, according to a priest who was also a victim.
Fr Patrick McCafferty was speaking after the report was published on Friday from the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry.
It studied allegations of abuse in 22 homes and other institutions from 1922 to 1995.
He said: “They are vindicated at last and the report’s recommendations must be speedily implemented, including financial compensation, a small gesture by church and society towards recognition of the losses and sufferings endured by victims and survivors.
“My own experiences of abuse, in childhood and young adulthood, perpetuated by church and non-church related persons, has always given me a sense of solidarity with all survivors of sexual abuse – whether as children or vulnerable adults.
“As a priest, I have always felt deeply affected by the sufferings of those abused in the institutions named in this report and been inspired by their courage in facing, in my own life, what needed to be faced, for the sake of justice and for the protection and safety of others from former priest James Donaghy.”
Donaghy is serving time for dozens of sexual abuse convictions.
The HIA report found an investigation by the former head of the Catholic Church in Ireland “effectively silenced” a victim of notorious paedophile Fr Brendan Smyth.
Although allegations about Smyth were investigated by church officials, including retired Cardinal Sean Brady, as far back as 1975, it was almost 20 years before he was jailed.
Instead he was moved between parishes, dioceses and even countries to prey on more and more children.
Mr McCafferty said there was no way to explain why the church did not try to isolate him from children for so long.
“There is no point in trying to get your head around it because there is no rhyme or reason to it. It was, quite simply, a catastrophic dereliction of duty by those in positions of responsibility in the church at the time.”
Retired cardinal Sean Brady, then a priest, was part of a church investigation into Smyth which saw child victims sign oaths of silence.
“Once again too, Sean Brady’s role comes under scrutiny. Why, for the rest of his career, did Brady neglect to keep an eye on Smyth, to make sure that he wasn’t a danger to children?” he asked.