Micheal Martin: Inquiry will investigate abuse at schools run by the Spiritans

An inquiry is to examine allegations of abuse at schools run by religious order the Spiritans.

Irish premier Micheal Martin confirmed there would be an inquiry after the Spiritan Congregation, formerly the Holy Ghost Fathers, gave a public apology to victims, and announced that an independent group would engage with survivors of abuse at schools and institutions decades ago.

It recently emerged in an RTE Radio Documentary on One programme that the religious order had paid five million euro in settlements towards abuse and supports services since 2004.

At least 233 men have made allegations of abuse against 77 priests from the Irish Spiritans.

British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the inquiry would be victim-led (Liam McBurney/PA)

Speaking on Saturday, the Taoiseach said there will be a victim-led process.

“I think we’ll spend the next week engaging with victims to get their perspective on this and the type of approach they would want Government to take,” he said.

“It is sickening and it is shocking what has happened in terms of the scale and nature of the abuse, terrible trauma visited on so many people in their early lives when they needed protection, and when their parents were putting them into a place of care and protection which did not transpire.

“We have to identify the best way forward in a victim-led way, and I think inevitably that means some form of inquiry will have to be established here.

“We have to take on board the views of victims and also identify the most effective way to conduct an inquiry.”

The abuse allegations go back as far as the 1970s and involve schools that were managed by the Holy Ghost Order, including Dublin’s prestigious Blackrock College.

Asked whether it would be limited to Blackrock College and schools run by the Spiritans, Mr Martin responded: “These are the issues we will have to examine – a module-based approach might be the most effective and timely in terms of an effective type of inquiry that would be time-limited because victims would be conscious of that, and very anxious that whatever we do will have the best interests of victims in mind, and that does mean inquiries that are timely, that can conclude in a reasonable time frame.”