|Solicitor Horrified by Deluge of Abuse Tales
By Maria Herlihy
September 8, 2011
A CHARLEVILLE based solicitor, who is representing a deluge of clients who are claiming to have suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse while children in residential institutions, said he has been left "horrified" by the stories his clients have told him.
Declan Duggan told The Corkman that listening to the very sensitive stories is something that he finds "difficult to get used to". "You are, in essence, never ready for it. "I am quite often the first person that a victim has spoken to, and that person can be worried that their families will look at them differently. These emotions and fears are shared by the victims highlighted in the recent Cloyne report," he said.
In the last two years, Mr Duggan has handled, and is presently handling, cases for past pupils of residential institutions who are now living in Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, China as well as Ireland and the UK.
However, he warned this week that there's a legal deadline of September 16 looming fast for those who can seek redress.
"Many people have held off from claiming as they are unaware of the Redress Board because of medical difficulties, illiteracy, isolation or addiction. In addition, a person may assume that Redress claims only apply to a person who was sexually abused. "That is not so. "Their claims cover all other forms of abuse, including beatings and other punishments - such as lack of food, clothing, education as well as emotional abuse," he said. This week, one victim told The Corkman: "The man who raped me even took me on the train to visit her [a female relative].
"He warned me on the way down that if I opened my mouth, then I knew exactly what I would get. There were four sick bastards because that is exactly what they were who used to rape boys in the orphanage." GARDAI and the Health Service Executive (HSE) are conducting separate probes into allegations of abuse including sexual at the former Colaiste Chroi Naofa boarding school in Carraig na bhFear.
It is understood that at least 500 former students at the boarding school will be contacted over abuse allegations that have triggered three major investigations. Abuse allegations by five individuals have come to light over the past five weeks.
The new fresh complaints were lodged since Senator Mark Daly used Seanad privilege in July to disclose how the order had failed to properly supervise Fr Donnacha MacCarthaigh, former principal of the Sacred Heart College in Carrignavar. Fr MacCarthaigh was on restricted ministry after seven complaints of abuse were lodged against him between 1986 and 2008.
The religious order than once ran the school, the Order the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (OMSH) is also being looked at by the church's own watchdog body. The National Board for the Safeguarding of Children (NBSC) is auditing how it handled complaints lodged over the years.
The school stopped taking boarders in 1995 and is now under new management, totally separate from OMSH.
In the last number of weeks since Senator Daly's allegations, garda sources have outlined that stations nationwide have been contacted by former pupils with concerns about past abuse.
Gordon Jeyes, the HSE's director of children and family services has said he is to investigate child welfare at the former boarding school. On Wednesday, August 31, principal of the school, Eamon O Donnabhain wrote a letter to parents of children of the now co-educational day school.
"As we approach the beginning of the new school year let me assure you of our continued commitment to provide the best education and pastoral care for your children," he said.
Former principal at the school, Fr MacCarthaigh has denied the allegations. He stepped aside from his principal duties to work as a career guidance teacher and he was placed on restricted ministry in the 1990s.
A second former Carraig na bhFear teacher, Fr Tadhg Daly was convicted of ten sample counts of indecent assault of a 12-yearold former pupil in 1999 and sentenced to three years in prison.
The HSE launched a freephone number 1800 742 8000 for victims and those affected by child sex abuse.
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