Missing NZ Claimants Urged To Come Forward
1 November 2004
Son Of Irish Abuse Survivor Urges Missing NZ Claimants To Come Forward
Cut Off Point For Claims In Ireland Expires 2005
Hundreds of Irish-born New Zealanders who suffered abuse at the hands of the Church and others, while resident in orphanages and industrial schools in Ireland as children, are eligible to apply for redress from the Irish Government. Abuse includes: neglect, under nourishment, being used for child labour, lack of education, physical, psychological and sexual abuse.
Approximately 150,000-plus children and teenagers went through orphanages, industrial schools and centres for young offenders in Ireland between the 1920s and the 1980s. Many of these experienced abuse and it is estimated that as many as 100,000 of those fled Ireland and went abroad, of which only a fraction seem aware of the compensation and education grants which are available for abuse survivors.
New Zealand based abuse survivors can apply to the Residential Institutions Redress Board (RIRB) for redress before the closing date of December 2005. To date, the Board has received just 4,633 applications in total, most of which are from the Republic of Ireland. The awards made by the Board range in value from NZ$19,712 to NZ$397,111. The average award is NZ$165,701. A New Zealand toll-free number (0800 111 705) has been established for survivors to leave their details in strictest confidence.
An Irish-based legal team, Peter McDonnell & Associates, will then contact them to provide advice and assistance regarding the application process. "We want to tell survivors that the Irish Government has apologised and that survivors have a right to financial redress," Peter McDonnell said. "Every one of those thousands of people who were institutionalized has a right to make an application for redress because all of them were starved, all of them were subjected to child labour and all of them were deprived of an education. In the majority of cases there was also physical abuse and, in too many cases, sexual abuse."
Mr James Murphy who is applying for redress on behalf of his deceased father is leading the campaign to alert New Zealand survivors of abuse to the existence of the RIRB.
"My father recently died of stomach cancer after a life spent battling with social difficulties, severe mood swings, and alcoholism; a legacy of his time spent in an industrial school as a child. We now understand that his symptoms are consistent with post-traumatic stress and we believe his treatment at the hands of the church and the Irish Department of Education severely affected the quality of his life up until the day he died," said Mr Murphy
"My father was 73, and dying, before he told us about his past and he was not aware of the RIRB before he passed away. I hope that, with this media campaign, other New Zealand abuse survivors will know that there is an opportunity to have their story heard and that compensation is also available but only before the closing date of December 2005."
Mr Murphy's father, Denis Murphy, was sentenced to three years and nine months in St Josephs Industrial School for Senior Boys in Cork at the age of twelve after stealing some chocolate from a warehouse to give to the neighbourhood children. Mr Murphy (Snr) remained there for three years before being released early when his own father discovered he was being sexually abused at the School.
While resident at the School, the boys were given basic food rations of one and a half slices of bread in the morning and evening, and were allowed a cup of tea and a piece of meat on Sundays only. It is believed that the School sold the boys' remaining food rations on the black market. Mr Murphy's family believe that the consequences of this malnutrition predisposed him to stomach cancer.
"I am speaking to the media because there needs to be a much greater level of awareness of a survivor's right to counselling, education, compensation and assistance in tracing their records," said James Murphy. "My father's life was destroyed by the time he spent in the industrial school and had he known about the redress available, maybe the last few months of his life might have been more peaceful. I believe anyone who has been abused while under the care of the religious orders and Department of Education should claim for redress simply to have their abuse acknowledged if nothing else." New Zealand Survivors can contact free-toll number 0800 111705 for further information. Alternatively go to: www.petermcdonnell.ie