April 10, 2003
One In Four founder settles High Court action

from RTE News April 9, 2003

The founder of the One in Four organisation, Colm O'Gorman, has settled his action for negligence against the Diocese of Ferns. Mr O'Gorman has said the settlement was for €300,000.

This morning the High Court was told that the action had been settled and a statement was read on behalf of the Apostolic Administrator of Ferns, Dr Eamon Walsh.

In the statement, the Bishop acknowledged and sincerely regretted the distress, trauma and hurt caused to Mr O'Gorman by the acts of sexual abuse on him by the late Fr Sean Fortune.

The Bishop also acknowledged the failure of the bishop at the time to recognise and act on the threat posed by the late Fr Fortune to Mr O'Gorman.

Colm O'Gorman received an unreserved apology.

Mr O'Gorman was sexually abused by the late Fr Sean Fortune between 1981 and 1983.

He sued the diocese of Ferns for negligence claiming that the then Bishop, Donal Herlihy, knew at that time that Fr Fortune posed a risk to him.

After the High Court was told that settlement terms had been agreed with Bishop Walsh, Mr O'Gorman - who is now 36 - spoke to journalists at the Dublin headquarters of his One in Four Organization which works for survivors of sexual abuse.

He said that today, for the very first time, the Catholic Church had acknowledged what many Irish people had believed for a number of years: that the Church authorities were negligent in how they handled and responded to cases of clerical sexual abuse.

He hoped the admission would mark an end to what he called 'the adversial and legalistic approach by church authorities' to victims.

He also criticised the Papal Nuncio for forcing him to drop his action against the Vatican by claiming diplomatic immunity.

He accused Archbishop Lazzarotto of refusing to answer questions about what the Vatican knew about the abuse perpetrated by Fr Fortune - who took his own life four years ago as he was about to face criminal charges.

Earlier this year, Dublin man Mervyn Rundle received over €300,000 and an apology from Cardinal Desmond Connell. He was sexually abused by Fr Thomas Naughton, a curate in Donnycarney in the mid-1980s.

Statement from Dr Eamon Walsh

This is the statement from Dr Eamon Walsh, read out in court by counsel for Mr O'Gorman:

'The matter has been settled on terms that Bishop Eamon Walsh as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Ferns, admits negligence and agrees to pay Colm O'Gorman compensation and costs.

'He acknowledges and sincerely regrets the distress, trauma and hurt caused to Colm O'Gorman by virtue of the acts of sexual abuse perpetrated on him between 1981 and 1983 by the late Fr Sean Fortune.

'He further acknowledges the failure of the Bishop at the time to recognise and act on the threat posed by the late Fr Fortune to Colm O'Gorman. Bishop Walsh wishes to apologise unreservedly to Colm O'Gorman for these failures and for the harm which he suffered in consequence.'

Watch Joe Little report on RTE's 9 o'clock news

Posted by Colm at April 10, 2003 04:07 PM

hello Colm,

firstly let me say how pleased I was reading todays Independent, you probably are not aware of the great feeling of satisfaction that your brave actions have achieved to people like us who live our lifes as 'anons'and will never have the courage to speak out because of the fear that to this day still exists.To have been abused for a period of 13 years in the 'industrial' schools-taken from our family's-and the most cruel of all-deprived of love that to this day severly effects our lives is a sore that will fester until we achieve hopefully a better life.

anyway Colm I wont go on and maybe im in the wrong forum anyway just to say thank you.


Posted by: anon on April 11, 2003 12:16 AM

Colm, I just wanted to say how happy I am for you. Way to go. Arianna

Posted by: arianna on April 11, 2003 06:16 AM

Congratulations to you Colm. Everybody in this country owes you a debt of gratitude (including those of us luck enough to have escaped abuse). I'm glad your bravery has been recognised. The apology seems the more important bit, although I'm sure you must have suffered fincanially as well having to seek therapy and so on. All the best to you for the future.

Posted by: on April 11, 2003 12:06 PM

Hi Colm

Glad to hear the good news and that you got an appology at last. Thanks for all your help.


Posted by: maire coffey on April 13, 2003 03:45 PM

About bloody time!

Posted by: susan on April 24, 2003 04:15 PM
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