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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Media and socio-cultural communication

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Article published in the Irish Communications Review, Vol. 11, 2009.


THE SEXUAL ABUSE OF children became a significant public issue in Ireland in the 1990s, with frequent media reports about the issue. In the main these focused on the issue of abuse of children by members of the clergy and religious orders. Headline cases included the abuse perpetrated by Fr Brendan Smyth, a priest of a religious order who was convicted of multiple counts of sexual abuse of children and subsequently died in prison, and Fr Seán Fortune, a diocesan priest, who committed suicide before his court trial for abuse. While child sexual abuse by clergy was widely exposed in the early 1990s, a subsequent additional scandal was the failure of the institutional Catholic Church to respond adequately to earlier complaints of abuse, and, in particular, to respond adequately to those who experienced abuse. As part of its response to the problem, the Irish Catholic bishops commissioned



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