Statement by Bishop Leo O’Reilly on the publication of the report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry

20 Jan 2017

I welcome the publication today by Judge Anthony Hart of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Report.

From the outset I wish to apologise to everyone who suffered abuse perpetrated by a priest or religious.  To abuse a child is a most abhorrent act, is evil and to be condemned unreservedly.

Today I am thinking in particular of the survivors of abuse and the long and difficult journey that they have travelled in order to achieve justice and official recognition of the pain and trauma visited upon them as children.

From what I have seen of the report the evidence contained in it is at times heart-breaking to read.  It is clear that many adults who, in the place of parents, were meant to provide love and care to children, failed in a catastrophic manner to protect and nurture their precious charges.

Judge Hart’s report reminds us again of  the appalling crimes against children committed by Father Brendan Smyth.  It also  reveals new information highlighting awareness by some in authority of Brendan Smyth’s criminal actions much earlier than had been previously understood.  It details the many opportunities of preventing further abuse that were missed along the way and the repeated failures that enabled him to continue abusing.

The Church cannot be, and should never have been, a safe harbour for anyone responsible for abuse.  I am acutely conscious that the Church has a moral responsibility to be demonstratively vigilant in the area of child safeguarding, both in order to ensure the wellbeing of children, and also to earn the confidence of parents and of children alike.

Equally, the Church cannot be found wanting in its support for the healing of those who have suffered abuse from adults purporting to embody its mission.  As a minimum we owe to those who lost their childhood through abuse the highest of safeguarding standards along with a commitment to assist them in every way possible to find healing and freedom from the abuse and pain so cruelly inflicted on them in their childhood. On behalf of the diocese of Kilmore I am committed to engaging with other bodies in  implementing the recommendations in the report to the best of our ability.


Notes for Editors 

  • Bishop Leo O’Reilly is Bishop of Kilmore.
  • Support for survivors of abuse: Towards Healing, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, and Towards Peace constitute the pastoral service response to survivors of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Ireland.  Please see their contact details below for your use:

Towards Healing Counselling & Support Services is available to survivors of Church, Religious and Institutional abuse.  The Towards Healing director is Mr Michael Lyons and the service provides lay independent and fully accredited counsellors to support survivors. Towards Healing may be contacted by:

  • Freephone (UK & NI) 0800 096 3315 or (RoI) 1800 303 416
  • Mobile number for Hearing Impaired Clients  +353 (0) 85-8022859

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland provides advice on all aspects of case management, including notification of allegations and support for the complainant.  It’s chief executive is Ms Teresa Devlin.  If you are concerned about a child or young person or wish to report a child safeguarding suspicion, concern, knowledge or allegation you should contact the statutory authorities.  As the Catholic Church in Ireland has a mandatory reporting policy you can also contact the NBSCCCI by:

Towards Peace is a service offering spiritual support to survivors of physical emotional or sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic Church personnel in Ireland.  The director of Towards Peace is Ms Una Allen who can be contacted by:

  • Telephone: + 353 (0) 1 5053028 and on +353 (0) 86 7710533
  • [email protected]

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444