Dublin - A long-awaited report into child abuse in Ireland has found that until the 1970s sexual abuse was "endemic" in boys' institutions run by religious orders, Irish media reported Wednesday. The report published by the Child Abuse Commission states that sexual abuse of boys in the Artane Industrial School in the Dublin suburbs and Letterfrack in the west of Ireland was a chronic problem.
Abuse was also "chronic" in institutions where girls were placed under the care of the state, according to report published by the Child Abuse Commission.
The commission, which was set up a decade ago by the government to investigate abuse, examined over 100 institutions and industrial schools, chiefly run by religious orders and the Department of Education.
The commission received thousands of complaints of emotional, physical and sexual trauma inflicted on children by Catholic priests, brothers and nuns who ran the industrial schools until they were closed in the 1960s and '70s.
The advocacy organization, Irish Survivors of Child Abuse, welcomed the report which comes after a long wait for "the victims of the cruel industrial school system operated by Catholic religious orders and the Department of Education."
The report said the Catholic Christian Brothers Order was "defensive" in the way it responded to complaints and claims the order fails to accept any congregational responsibility for such abuse, Ireland's national broadcaster RTE reported.
More allegations were made against the Christian Brothers than all of the other male orders combined. According to the report, physical punishment in Artane, run by the order, was "excessive" and children "constantly felt under threat and were fearful."
Letterfrack, the report says, was an inhospitable, bleak, isolated institution in which physical punishment was "severe, excessive and pervasive."
For two thirds of the period investigated at Letterfrack, there was at least one sexual abuser present, according to the report. Two abusers were present there for 14 years and the congregation offered no explanation of how they remained there undetected and unreported for so long.
The report describes how at St Joseph's Industrial School in Tralee, also in the south-west, a brother terrorized children for more than seven years after being moved there from a day school where his violence towards children was causing severe problems with parents.
Industrial schools were set up in Ireland in the 1860s, supposedly to care for orphaned or neglected children, but were often used as dumping grounds for so-called wayward boys as well as girls who became pregnant outside marriage.
The inquiry, believed to have cost some 70 million euros (95.58 million dollars), was announced in 1999 by then Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who apologized to the victims of abuse.
The apology followed revelations made in States of Fear, a documentary series made by the national broadcaster RTE on the abuse suffered by children throughout the childcare system up until the 1970s and 80s.
The commission's interim report, published in 2003, described the abuse and neglect endured by boys in the Catholic-run Baltimore Industrial School over 60 years ago in the south-west of the country.
Hundreds of those interviewed described "being beaten on every part of their body" and many said "beatings were administered in public" and that "they were sometimes made to remove all their clothing" for public beatings, the Irish Times newspaper reported.
In 2003, it was revealed that the Christian Brothers' internal files in Rome showed that 30 brothers had sexually abused in its industrial schools in Ireland.
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