Updated at 22.50pm
CHRISTINE BUCKLEY, AN abuse survivor who went on to found the Aislinn Centre, has passed away.
Today, a member of staff at the Aislinn Centre told TheJournal.ie: “We are all devastated. It’s a huge loss.”
She said they are in “shock” over Christine’s death after a battle with cancer:
She is such a survivor that you don’t even believe it. That she is going to be taken before her time.
Christine was brought up in Goldenbridge industrial school, after being born to a Nigerian medical student and a married Irish woman.
At the industrial school, she was subjected to physical and mental abuse. Christine went on to campaign on behalf of others who had survived institutional abuse.
She also co-founded the Aislinn Education and Support Centre, for survivors of abuse and their families.
Her story was told in the 1996 RTÉ documentary Dear Daughter.
Christine passed away just after 6am this morning after having been in hospital for a short period of time.
Christine Buckley is survived by her husband Donal and three children.
Bernardos Chief Executive Fergus Finlay called her “a fighter, a survivor, an advocate, a charmer, a hero among heroes”.
“Her legacy will live on in our collective recognition of the need for a better child welfare and protection system”, he said.
“That system needs to live up to the hope and vision that she and other survivors hold for future generations of children in Ireland.”
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said Christine Buckley’s work was “pivotal in changing Irish perceptions of institutional abuse and led to a new era of child protection in this State.”
Through her courage and bravery Christine Buckley made a most important contribution to Irish society. By telling her story about institutional abuse, she lifted a veil on the horrors of childhood experiences in the Ireland of the past.
“Her campaign for truth opened the door for other survivors of abuse to come forward with their own stories.”
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams told TheJournal.ie when informed of the news of Christine Buckley’s death:
I am very shocked by that. She did wonderful work, very brave courageous work highlighting the abuses that affected her and shone a light on very, very dark places and she will be remembered for that.
Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” to learn of Christine Buckley’s death.
Christine was a tireless campaigner for survivors of abuse. As Minister for Education, I had the privilege of working closely with Christine and other survivors from Goldenbridge. They made a personal impact on me that remains with me to this day. Her unwavering courage and her singular determination to uncover institutional abuse was a catalyst in my decision to establish the Lafoy – Ryan Commission.
He said he believes she “will have a lasting place in Irish history as someone whose bravery and commitment to justice led to significant and permanent change”.
Martin extended his condolences on behalf of himself and the Fianna Fáil organisation to Christine’s husband Donal and their children Darragh, Conor and Cliona.
The HSE has said that the CONNECT helpline, which provides counselling and support to survivors of abuse, will be available this evening from 6pm to 10pm. You can contact them on 1800 477 477 from the Republic of Ireland and 00800 477 477 77 from Northern Ireland and the UK.
First published 11.17am. Additional reporting Hugh O’Connell.