March 28, 2003
Bishop welcomes terms of Murphy inquiry

from RTE News Online

Bishop Eamonn Walsh

Bishop Eamonn Walsh who replaced Dr Brendan Comiskey as Apostolic Administrator of Ferns has welcomed the terms of reference of The Murphy Inquiry.

Bishop Walsh reiterated that both he and the priests of the Diocese had pledged full co-operation to the Inquiry.

He said this determination to co-operate would help to establish the full truth and hopefully contribute significantly to the healing process of those who have been so dreadfully abused.

The non-statutory inquiry into the handling of allegations of child sexual abuse by priests from the Diocese of Ferns is to produce an interim report within a year, if it fails to produce its full findings by then.

The Minister for Health, Micheál Martin, made the announcement today along with nine other terms of reference.

The investigation will be headed by retired Supreme Court judge, Mr Justice Frank Murphy.

The foundations for this inquiry were laid by Senior Counsel George Bermingham who advised the Government on how best to investigate Ferns following Bishop Comiskey's resignation over his handling of complaints against the late Father Sean Fortune.

Mícheál Martin said George Bermingham's report had outlined the most effective way of carrying out the inquiry.

The inquiry will also identify what other complaints and allegations which were made against Ferns clergy prior to 10 April last and it will report on the response to them by the Church and any public authorities which received them.

It will get statutory powers if the Minister is advised that there is even a suggestion that Church or State authorities are witholding co-operation.

The Minister also revealed that two women will join Mr Justice Murphy on the inquiry team. They are Dr. Helen Buckley, a specialist in child protection who lectures in the Department of Social Studies in Trinity College Dublin; and Dr. Laraine Joyce, the Deputy Director of the Office for Health Management.

The Bishop of Ferns, Dr Brendan Comiskey, resigned last year amid criticism of the way he had dealt with child sex abuse charges against religious figures in his diocese.

The One In Four group, which represents victims of clerical sexual abuse, has welcomed the announcement of the Terms of Reference for the non-statutory inquiry.

Colm O'Gorman, Director of One in Four and one of the survivors of abuse, whose revelations on a BBC programme last year contributed to the establishment of the inquiry, welcomed the announcement as 'a groudbreaking and vital first step in determining the way Church and State responded to abuse.'

Listen to Colm O'Gorman and Bishop Eamonn Walsh react to the establishment of the Inquiry on RTE News at One

Posted by Colm at 06:50 PM
"A Legacy" by Liz

This piece, first appeared on this site in October 2002 and has since also been published in The Irish Times and The Furrow.

With all the recent fallout from the Prime-time programme, I am listening to what sometimes sound like hollow apologies, and people talking about “incalculable damage to victims” etc. and I am left wondering does anybody apart from those who have been actually abused really know what they are talking about. I have never seen an article about the legacy of, or the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse.

I have recently started visiting this website, which is run by people who have been sexually abused for people who have been abused. Apart from the personal support I find here and the validation for myself in hearing other people’s stories, what I have found most surprising is the similarity in the feelings of the people who visit and contribute to the site. I find it hard to imagine that a group of people who would experience any other traumatic event in common would have such an identical set of feelings. It seems sufficient to mention on the website that you are having a bad day and within a short time you are in receipt of a number of messages of support from people who can describe in detail, possibly better than you could yourself, how you are feeling and what you are experiencing. As someone said to me recently in an e-mail “when we read each other’s writing, it is like reading a page out of our own book.”

I do not presume to describe anybody else’s feelings because ultimately each person’s experience is unique. But I question the ability of people who have not been personally touched by abuse to really understand just how horrific is the legacy.

My next birthday will be my fiftieth. I was severely sexually abused when I was three and four years of age. Forty-five years later, I am still dealing with it. While I refuse to define myself by my abuse, it is a huge part of me, has had a monstrous affect on my life, and regardless of how determined I am to do otherwise, it sometimes does feel as if it is all that I am.

To those who do not know me very well, and I include here my family, I probably appear to be a very normal person experiencing the usual ups and downs of everyday life. But inside me is a very different reality.

I sometimes feel that the inevitable end to my life will be suicide; the only things to be decided are the how and the when. How many people could you say that to without frightening them? Yet this for me is normality. I am not depressed. But I need to know that if the pain of my experience ever gets to an unbearable stage, I have a way out. I repeat, I am not depressed. I am upset today because of all the media articles on the subject of abuse, but I don’t feel any nearer suicide today than I did a month ago.

I live alone because I find safety in my aloneness. I could not imagine myself other than living alone. I need safety. Apart from the immediate trauma of my sexual abuse, one of the things I lost was my ability to trust. Through my experience as a child, the world became an unsafe place. All my ideas of protection and safety were shattered and have never been repaired. I have had counselling – excellent counselling – and have gained hugely from the experience. I certainly would not be thinking this never mind writing it if I had not had counselling. I even considered becoming a counsellor – and haven’t dismissed the idea completely. But I find the intimate contact with people that counselling entails difficult to deal with.

In fact, I find any type of intimate contact with people difficult to deal with. Actually it doesn’t have to be intimate contact at all. Contact with people is difficult – full stop!!! If I were to look for a diagnosis, I probably have social phobia. The idea of going out socially terrifies me. I do have some very good friends who know my story and fully accept me as I am. I found myself recently unable to go to a fiftieth birthday party for a very good friend. But she understood that meeting for lunch was much more comfortable for me and that’s what we did, and enjoyed it. While I don’t want a hectic social life, it would be nice to have a real choice. Yes, I’m sure there is probably help available out there for this particular problem, and I may well look for some, but I mention it merely as part of my story.

I have never felt able to tell any of my family about my abuse. To my knowledge my parents were not aware of it at the time. Certainly it was never mentioned. My mother is still alive, as are my brothers and sisters and we have a superficially okay relationship. But in reality I feel extremely isolated and excluded from my family. It is as if they all belong to a club that I am not allowed to join. This is in no way to place any blame on them. How could I expect them to understand or support me in something of which they are completely unaware? Why don’t I tell them? We are back to fear again. In order to talk to any of my siblings, I would need to feel strong enough myself to take any possible reaction they might have - disbelief, rejection or whatever. Given that I don’t feel close to them anyway, what have I got to lose? I don’t know. Perhaps superficial contact is better than no contact at all. Do I know that that is what would happen? No, but I am afraid it might. Recently I have been thinking that perhaps my fiftieth birthday present to myself might be to talk to some of my family about my abuse, but who knows?

There is inside me an anger, a rage that frightens me sometimes. Outwardly I am extremely placid, but believe me I am angry. Do I have a focus for this anger? No!! In the past I directed it at myself and have hurt myself in various ways. Always very subtly so nobody ever knew. On a couple of occasions I was hospitalised, but again always had a plausible story to explain the injuries. Looking back on these episodes, apart from the self-loathing which they portray, I think sometimes the emotional pain was so bad that if I could inflict a greater degree of physical pain on myself, it somehow overshadowed the emotional pain and was more bearable. Now I can rationalise this anger more easily and haven’t hurt myself for a few years. I think that having told my counsellor about the self-harming, the shame was so great that it
has kept me from doing it recently as I feel that I would have to disclose it.

The fact that I do not have children is a source of great sadness to me. I doubt that I could have sustained a relationship with a man, so I probably would have been a single parent. Would I have been a good mother? Who knows? Would I have damaged children of my own? I don’t mean sexually, because if I even conceived of the notion that I could possibly harm even a hair on a child’s head, I would kill myself immediately. And I mean that sincerely. ……..But would I have inflicted emotional and psychological harm on my children? Would I have behaved in such a way as to cause them to resent me, or even hate me? I don’t know. Sometimes I tell myself that this might have happened but I think perhaps that it is just a way of consoling myself for the fact that I don’t have them.

So how do I live my life? As I said earlier, I live alone and in my aloneness I find safety. For me safety is paramount. If you met me would you realise all this about me? NO! I would probably appear perfectly normal.

I write this to try to portray in some kind of concrete way what is part, and I mean just part of the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse. I do not presume to speak for anybody else apart from myself. But I feel that the potential damage done by abusers needed to be portrayed in some sort of a tangible way. Do those who are apologising have a clue of what they are apologising for? It is not something that happened back then. Childhood sexual abuse is NOT an event. It is an ongoing life experience.

Can I say that my life would be different if I hadn’t been sexually abused? No, I cannot. I can only say that this is a part of my life AND I was sexually abused. Do I know that my life would not be like this had I NOT been abused?
NO, I do not. Because I do not know, cannot know, Nor will ever know what it is like NOT to have been sexually abused.

Posted by paul at 05:38 PM
Terms of Reference for The Ferns Inquiry into Clerical Sexual Abuse

The full Terms of Reference for The Ferns Inquiry into Clerical Sexual Abuse are:

a) To identify what complaints or allegations have been made against clergy operating under the aegis of the Diocese of Ferns in relation to alleged events that transpired prior to 10 April 2002 and to report on the nature of the response to the identified complaints or allegations on the part of the Church authorities and any public authorities to which complaints or allegations were reported.

b) To consider whether the response was adequate or appropriate judged in the context of the time when the complaint or allegation was made and if the response to the complaint or allegation appears inadequate or inappropriate when judged by those standards to identify if possible the reason or reasons for this and report thereon.

c) To consider the response of the diocesan and other Church authorities and the State authorities to cases where they had knowledge or strong and clear suspicion of sexual abuse involving priests of the Diocese of Ferns and to consider whether that response was adequate or appropriate judged in the context of the time when the knowledge was acquired or the suspicion formed.

d) Insofar as responses are seen to be inadequate or inappropriate and, insofar as it may be possible to identify explanations for that inadequate or inappropriate response, to consider whether those factors remain applicable and to what extent they have been addressed subsequently.

e) To examine and report on the levels of communication that prevailed between diocesan and state authorities, to consider whether more appropriate norms of improved communication between the diocesan authorities and the state authorities is are now desirable or practical.

f) To identify and report on any lessons which might usefully be learned from how complaints or allegations were handled in the past which will result in improved child protection.

g) To identify and report on any difficulties or shortcomings in current laws and regulations and to make recommendations as to legislative or regulatory change that would remedy these.

h) In the event of the withholding or withdrawal of full co-operation from the Inquiry by Church authorities or any State authorities, or any suggestion that co-operation is being withheld, to report that fact immediately to the Minister for Health and Children. In the event of the Minister for Health and Children receiving such a report he will then grant the Inquiry statutory powers.

i) At the conclusion of their inquiries, to deliver a Health and Children who will lay it before the Houses of the Oireachtas and publish the report in full subject to legal advice.

j) In the event of the Inquiry not producing a final report within 12 months of the date of appointment by the Minister, the inquiry will publish an interim report and indicate a date for the Inquiry's final report.

Posted by Colm at 03:29 PM
Martin announces the Inquiry into the Handling of Allegations of Child Sex Abuse in the Diocese of Ferns.

Press release from The Department of Health and Children announcing the Ferns Inquiry


The Minister for Health and Children, Mr. Micheál Martin, T.D., announced the establishment of the Inquiry into the handling of allegations of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Ferns today.

"The Foundations for this Inquiry were laid by the Report of Mr. George Birmingham, SC, who outlined the most effective way of conducting the Inquiry" the Minister said. The Inquiry will be chaired by the retired Supreme Court Judge, Mr. Frank Murphy. In line with the recommendations contained in Mr. Birmingham's report two other specialist members have been appointed to assist the Inquiry.

Dr. Helen Buckley has been appointed as a specialist in child protection issues. Dr. Buckley is a Senior Research Fellow and Senior lecturer in the Department of Social Studies, Trinity College Dublin. She is also the co-ordinator of the Postgraduate Diploma in Child Protection and Welfare. She was a member of the working group to review the child abuse guidelines which led to Children First, National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children. She has 15 years practical experience in this area.

Dr. Laraine Joyce has been appointed to assist in reviewing the structures and management of the organizations coming within the scope of the Inquiry. Dr. Joyce is the Deputy Director of the Office for Health Management. She joined the Office for Health Management from the Institute of Public Administration (IPA). Dr. Joyce was Executive Director of the IPA with responsibility for their management development services to the health and semi-state sectors. Before that she worked in the IPA's research division where she carried out many research and consultancy studies in personnel and organisational issues for the public services in Ireland and overseas.

She has an MA from the University of Texas and a PhD from the University of Lancaster. She is the co-editor of A Healthier Future? Managing Healthcare in Ireland, published in 1998. In 1999 the Minister of Health and Children appointed her Chairperson of the Nursing Education Forum.

The Minister went on to say that "the terms of reference (see below) will facilitate a focused and effective Inquiry".


The full Terms of Reference are:

a) To identify what complaints or allegations have been made against clergy operating under the aegis of the Diocese of Ferns in relation to alleged events that transpired prior to 10 April 2002 and to report on the nature of the response to the identified complaints or allegations on the part of the Church authorities and any public authorities to which complaints or allegations were reported.

b) To consider whether the response was adequate or appropriate judged in the context of the time when the complaint or allegation was made and if the response to the complaint or allegation appears inadequate or inappropriate when judged by those standards to identify if possible the reason or reasons for this and report thereon.

c) To consider the response of the diocesan and other Church authorities and the State authorities to cases where they had knowledge or strong and clear suspicion of sexual abuse involving priests of the Diocese of Ferns and to consider whether that response was adequate or appropriate judged in the context of the time when the knowledge was acquired or the suspicion formed.

d) Insofar as responses are seen to be inadequate or inappropriate and, insofar as it may be possible to identify explanations for that inadequate or inappropriate response, to consider whether those factors remain applicable and to what extent they have been addressed subsequently.

e) To examine and report on the levels of communication that prevailed between diocesan and state authorities, to consider whether more appropriate norms of improved communication between the diocesan authorities and the state authorities is are now desirable or practical.

f) To identify and report on any lessons which might usefully be learned from how complaints or allegations were handled in the past which will result in improved child protection.

g) To identify and report on any difficulties or shortcomings in current laws and regulations and to make recommendations as to legislative or regulatory change that would remedy these.

h) In the event of the withholding or withdrawal of full co-operation from the Inquiry by Church authorities or any State authorities, or any suggestion that co-operation is being withheld, to report that fact immediately to the Minister for Health and Children. In the event of the Minister for Health and Children receiving such a report he will then grant the Inquiry statutory powers.

i) At the conclusion of their inquiries, to deliver a Health and Children who will lay it before the Houses of the Oireachtas and publish the report in full subject to legal advice.

j) In the event of the Inquiry not producing a final report within 12 months of the date of appointment by the Minister, the inquiry will publish an interim report and indicate a date for the Inquiry's final report.

Posted by Colm at 03:27 PM
One In Four welcomes the start of the Ferns Inquiry into Diocesan Clerical Sexual Abuse

Press Release

One In Four, the national charity working to support people who have experienced sexual abuse, today welcomed the announcement from the Minister for Health and Children, Minister Micheal Martin confirming the start of the Ferns Inquiry into Clerical Sexual Abuse.

Colm O'Gorman, Director of One In Four, who called for the inquiry following the broadcast of the BBC documentary “Suing the Pope” almost one year ago called the inquiry “a groundbreaking and vital first step in determining the way in which Church and State authorities responded to suspicions, allegations and complaints of clerical sexual abuse.”

“If we are ever to get to the truth of how the Catholic Church and the State at all levels have dealt with such cases, not just in Ferns but in all the dioceses of Ireland it is vital that this inquiry be focused and committed to uncovering the truth of what the Church and State authorities did, or failed to do, in response to the many complaints and allegations made about Priests from the Diocese of Ferns. Such a clear and focused inquiry will then act to inform future inquires into sexual abuse elsewhere, for example, the proposed inquiry into clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin. This Inquiry is very much a ‘first step’ in a process that should lead to a final acknowledgement of the level of systemic failure on the part of the Catholic Church to respond appropriately to the rape and abuse of children by its priests.”

One In Four particularly welcomes the robustness of the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry in that they address many of the issues raised by One In Four in consultations with the Minister and his officials in the lead up to the Inquiry. O’Gorman said “Given that the Inquiry is non-statutory it is imperative that it should not be an impotent mechanism of investigation.

What it is clear is that while the inquiry seeks the cooperation of all parties subject to investigation, if such cooperation is in any doubt or if cooperation is withheld the Inquiry will be granted full statutory powers. Whilst the expressed commitment of the Church and other authorities to cooperate fully with the inquiry is to be welcomed, it is of grave importance that they understand that their cooperation is not in any way ‘gifted’, if they fail to cooperate in any way they must be compelled to finally and fully disclose the way in which they have responded to the scandal of clerical abuse. This is a final chance for the Catholic Church to act with some overdue integrity, the time for spin and hiding behind Canon Law and legal advise is now past.”

One In Four is committed to playing an active part in this Inquiry and will to work to provide an effective voice for victims of sexual abuse. The organisation is dedicated to ensuring that any person abused in such circumstances will be able to access the support and information to which they are entitled in coming forward to give evidence to the Inquiry. We urge any victim who wishes to seek such support from One In Four to contact our office on 01 662 4070.


Posted by Colm at 03:24 PM
Man given three more years in jail for child sex abuse

by Orlaith Delaney in The Irish Independent

A MAN already serving a six-year sentence for sex offences has been given a further three years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for sexually abusing another girl.

Judge Yvonne Murphy suspended the final two years of the new sentence. The judge also imposed imposed seven terms of two years to run concurrently for his sexual abuse of seven other girls.

The 41-year-old defendant's six-year sentence was imposed last June for unlawful carnal knowledge and sexual abuse of two female cousins.

Judge Murphy noted that although some of the girls were as young as 11, it was clear he never threatened any of them.

Detective Sergeant Matt Murphy told prosecuting counsel, Mr Paul Burns BL, that the girls said they had to "pass a test" before the defendant would let them into his flat and the abuse would stem from there.

One girl said he would slap girls "on the arse" and if they did not say anything he would go further. In some cases the abuse included digital penetration.

In their victim impact reports, many of the girls said they had problems trusting or being close to people, particularly men.

They all said they never wanted to see the defendant and they just wanted to put the abuse behind them and get on with the rest of their lives.

Det Sgt Murphy said the defendant would buy gifts for his victims and told one of them he would take her on a holiday.

He agreed with defence counsel, Mr George Birmingham SC, that the defendant had been abused himself as a young child.

He had had a troubled upbringing and had spent the majority of his childhood from the age of ten in care.

Posted by Colm at 07:43 AM
March 27, 2003
Cabinet to modify restrictions on access to personal information

by Mark Brennock in The Irish Times

The Government is to modify its proposals to restrict access to personal information held by public bodies but will press ahead with plans to limit the release of Government and other official records.

The Minister for Finance, Mr McCreevy, is today expected to signal his intention to make some changes to his controversial Bill to restrict the Freedom of Information Act.

He will do so during his closing speech on the second-stage Dáil debate on the Bill, which was severely disrupted yesterday and on Tuesday by Labour deputies claiming the changes are being rammed through the Oireachtas without proper consultation.

While the key restrictions on the release of information relating to Government will be retained, Mr McCreevy is expected to respond to pressure on the issue of access to personal information.

He is expected to alter the plan to give members of the public access only to records that "contain" personal information about them. Under existing law they can also receive records that "relate to" such personal information.

A group representing victims of sex abuse, One in Four, has objected strongly to this restriction, saying it will hamper victims' ability to gain access to all relevant documents concerning their past treatment.

The Oireachtas Committee on Finance and the Public Service accepted this point when it held hearings on the Government's plans a fortnight ago.

As well as this change, other minor amendments are expected which will allow for the charging of lower fees for Freedom of Information requests to certain categories of requester, such as disadvantaged people.

Mr McCreevy also said on Tuesday that he was considering an amendment to allow relatives of minors and people with disabilities to have personal information amended where it was incorrect, incomplete or misleading.

Such persons should also have the right to have reasons for certain decisions affecting them explained, he said.

However, Government sources said last night that despite these changes, Mr McCreevy was determined to retain the central elements of the Bill restricting the release of official documents.

These include the extension from five to 10 years of the period during which Cabinet records cannot be released, as well as keeping secret advice given to ministers and letters between ministers.

Mr McCreevy signalled this in his speech on Tuesday night in which he defended all of the key elements of the Bill.

These included the extension from five to 10 years of the period before Cabinet papers can be released; the exemption from release of documents prepared by committees and individuals advising ministers; the exemption of communication between ministers, and the granting to secretaries general of the power to certify that a "deliberative process" is ongoing and that certain documents should therefore be kept secret.

He dismissed the concerns expressed by the Information Commissioner, Mr Kevin Murphy, in his recent commentary on the issue.

"I am fully satisfied that any concerns raised in this report about the Government's Bill are not justified," he said, while saying the report had been a "useful contribution to the debate".

In the Dáil debate yesterday, PD deputy Ms Fiona O'Malley sharply criticised the way in which the changes had been made, saying they had been "sprung on an unsuspecting parliament and on an unsuspecting public".

She said she did not believe the assurances from Mr McCreevy that the changes would not curtail access to personal information.

The case for the amendment to be abandoned had been made by the One in Four group, she said, and she believed it would deny such people information which was important in the redress process.

She was also concerned about the proposed new definition of "Government" which would serve to conceal many documents produced by advisory committees and individuals that were previously released.

This change "would permit a very wide and somewhat arbitrary net to be cast" and would exclude much information from the provisions of the Act.

Posted by Colm at 12:57 PM
March 26, 2003
"Who Understands?" by M

Lost in this aloneness,
Who understands this world within?
Yes, this life’s secret shared,
Ah, they care but do they really understand?
Who knows what he has done
To destroy this life and make me seem so weak.

Who understands that my heart is breaking?
Who understands this prison within,
Where so many gates await to be opened.
Who understands the fear of Now?
For too much pain comes in.

Who understands the shame felt?
In all this filth and years of abuse.
Who understands that Abuse is Death
For life has been taken from this child within.
Who understands the anger now felt
At him who has done all this.

Who understands the confusion within?
Who can give the answers to all this ?
Who Understands?

Posted by Colm at 03:14 PM
March 25, 2003
His innocence 'was ripped out' that dark night

by Patsy McGarry in The Irish Times

He is a young 38. He must have been a very young 13. Peter asked, for family's sake, that his surname not be used. He doesn't mind about a picture.
Away from Ireland since 1986, he feels few will recognise him now. He has suffered depression and anxiety and is on four separate medications daily. He attempted suicide at 16. He has been in therapy for 10 years and, since "taking responsibility" - a favourite phrase - for his suffering, has regained a more positive attitude.

In a 20-minute address to the court yesterday he remembered writing a story, The Sorrowful Mysteries, six or seven years ago. It was about a small boy being sexually abused in the dark while he said the rosary. He was that boy.

He was a boarder in Newbridge College, Co Kildare, in September 1977, at considerable sacrifice to his working-class family. It was a cold, sparse place. Away from home for the first time he was in a dormitory with 60 other boys. He had rosary beads given him by his grandmother, who believed all would be taken care of if you said it regularly. He did.

One night in his first six weeks there, the priest in charge of the dormitory made sure everyone was in bed and lights were out. Soon Peter heard someone walking around in the dark. He was frightened. Under the bed covers he said the rosary. A weight sat on his bed. "I could smell his breath, he was that close," he said. Neither spoke.

A hand embedded the beads into his hands and chest. It touched him beneath his pyjama top and moved down to fondle his genitals. His innocence "was ripped out". He remembered the moment as "a really, sad, dark place to be". It still affected him 25 years later. He became withdrawn, wanted to be invisible. Through a Morse of signals he let his parents know. Another boy he knew who was abused by the priest also told his parents.

The parents went to Father Brennan, the college prior. Next day a note on a noticeboard said that, due to illness, Father Mercer was leaving. Peter was taken out of there the following year and sent to Clongowes, "a warm, safe, nurturing place to be". He left at 18 and, when 21, went to the US where he runs a catering firm in Manhattan.

In 2001 his brother-in-law contacted him about applying to the Laffoy Commission. He had to fill in details in a form about his abuser. Through the Internet he located Father Mercer. He spoke to him by phone. The priest did not remember him. They spoke of why he left Newbridge, and the rosary beads. And the priest remembered. He admitted abusing him. At a meeting later with the priest numbers for other possible victims ranged from "7 to 11 to 13", Peter told the court, adding: "What's a victim here or there? What's an abused child here or there?" He had hoped the priest would be more forthcoming, so other victims could be helped. But Father Mercer acted on his solicitor's advice. Which was why Peter went to the gardaí.

He praised Father Gearóid Manning, Prior Provincial of the Dominican Order in Ireland, who had been "extremely helpful". He was less impressed with the order's provincial council.

The Dominicans made a substantial financial gift to him, to help with his therapy costs and as compensation. He had not sought it, nor were there conditions. It was incorrectly referred to in court by Father Mercer's solicitor as "a settlement of civil proceedings".

Afterwards Father Manning apologised "unreservedly for the pain caused" to Peter and his family.

Posted by Colm at 03:53 PM
Priest sentenced to six months for sexual abuse

by Patsy McGarry in The Irish Times

Fr. Vincent Mercer

A 56-year-old priest of the Dominican order and a former headmaster at Newbridge College in Co Kildare was sentenced to six months' imprisonment at Naas District Court yesterday on child sex abuse charges.

Father Vincent Mercer pleaded guilty to four counts of indecent assault on a 13-year-old boy in a dormitory at the school in 1977. The victim, Peter (38), who asked that his surname not be used to protect his family, travelled from New York to pursue the charges.

At the request of Father Mercer's solicitor, Mr Robert Eagar, the court was cleared of all not involved in the case before proceedings began before Judge Murrough Connellan. However, the press was allowed to remain.

Sgt Kevin Lavelle told the court the offences took place in September and October 1977 and involved fondling of the victim's genitals underneath bedclothes. When contacted by gardaí in July 2002 the priest made a full statement admitting the offences, he said.

Dr Patrick Randall, principal clinical psychologist with the Granada Institute in Dublin, which treats child sexual abusers, said the priest had begun treatment there in 1996 following referral from a similar centre at Wolvercote, near Epsom in the UK, where he had been sent in 1995.

He expected Father Mercer would be attending the institute for another year. He had shown significant elements of remorse where his victims were concerned and identified with them when he reflected on his own abuse as a child, Dr Randall said.

Quoting tests applied to the priest he said the risk of his re- offending was at the lower end of the scale in two of the tests, and at medium to high in one other. On the lower scale it had been established that Father Mercer's likelihood of reoffending stood at 16 per cent within six years.

The priest had made "a candid and forthright disclosure" about the abuse, Dr Randall said.

Judge Connellan queried this, noting that in a phone call with the victim in September 2001 Father Mercer had denied abusing any other boys. Dr Randall said the priest would not have felt safe making such an admission to someone he had abused.

The judge noted that, while the offences were first reported to the college authorities in 1977, the first referral of the priest for treament was nearly 20 years later. "Where was the defendant during this time?" he asked.

Mr Eagar said that in 1977 the priest was moved from Newbridge College to a parish in Waterford. From 1982 to 1985 he was in a parish in Tallaght, Co Dublin, and in a Cork parish from 1985 to 1995, when he was withdrawn from ministry.

In November 1995 he was sent to Wolvercote and had been living in Dominican houses since then. He understood gardaí had interviewed two other men who had been abused by the priest but they did not want to press charges.

Father Mercer told the court he publicly acknowledged the immense pain he had caused Peter, his parents and his family. He was deeply sorry for breaching their faith and trust. He "publicly apologised" to them for all they had been through.

Judge Connellan said he had doubts about the priest's remorse, arising from the statement to the court about candid and forthright disclosures in the case.

The breach of trust in duty to parents and children could not be overemphasised, which was why, in the main, he was imposing a custodial sentence of six months.

See the RTE News report on the case.

Posted by Colm at 03:51 PM
"Just One Tear" by Colleen

Just One Tear

(To a very special person in my life, who was there, exactly when I needed

Just one tear
My heart beats stronger
Just one breath
That reaches my soul

Just one word
Not spoken in silence
Just one thought
From a moment of truth
Just one person
Not afraid to give
Just one life
Offered another chance to live
Just a little touch
That melts away some pain
Just an understanding
You may not be to blame
Just one prayer
Answered at last
Just one child
Released from her past
Just one voice
Loud enough to hear
Just one hope
Just one tear


Posted by Colm at 08:20 AM
Counselling at One in Four

by Allison

Without One in Four I wouldn't be alive. I would be walking around, but I wouldn't be alive. As each day passed, I was mentally breaking down more and more, and no one cared.

My fears were complex and abstract. Not only did I have the most horrific nightmares from which I woke up either feeling I'd been raped, or worse, believing I had raped someone, but I also thought there were demons in my bedroom. I thought they would grab my legs. I don't like people grabbing my legs. My stepfather built us a pool while we were overseas and when I was swimming he would grab my legs and hold me under the water while I struggled to breath.

I'm finding this impossible to write. I'm writer so this should be a walk in the park. I'm conscious of the time - this has to arrive by tomorrow. Even now I'm told I'm useless, worthless, so you'll forgive me if I still have a few bad days. This isn't a bad day, but I'm still finding it hard. I still have bad dreams. Sometimes I look at the clock and it's early evening. I ask what I did to-day, and I don’t remember. Perhaps I didn't do anything.

I don't feel stupid or weak anymore. I'm not saying this is the way forward, the new black, but I am saying I really do believe it's OK to hurt. Not the act, but the admittance that you feel vulnerable, angry, scared, tearful. I cried in front of my best friend for the first time a month ago. She put her arms around me and rocked me. My mum used to that, when she was a proper mum. I would sit on her lap and she would rock me, I found it very soothing. I've cried in front of Colm when I'm trying to use certain words, the ones that make me stutter. I don't like people seeing my face when I cry. Colm never rushes me. Re always gives me time. Remakes my crying a positive thing. Almost like it doesn't matter what language you use, as long as say what you need to. I say a lot and nothing at all, but he treats all my news with relevance. And he does that whole counsellor thing, where he picks up on a word or a sentence and asks me why I said it, or whether I would like to expand on a statement. It can be very tiring because not much gets past him.

I am always tired when I turn up for my session each week. I sit in the chair and look at the sky. I can hear Colm pottering in the next room, or talking on the phone. Then the clink of cups and spoons. It's very normal. And I feel myself melt into the chair. My eyes feel heavy. I don't have to worry about turning the TV on, making sure the night-lights are lit, and falling asleep facing the door. I can just sleep here. You can never put that feeling into words. You can never ever tell someone how grateful you are for them holding, but not touching, you.

I have changed. You can come with me or you can get the hell out the way. I'm not a bad person but I am in a rush. One In Four has given me my strength back. I hadn't even realised I had lost it.

One in Four has made me believe in the idea of safety. I'm going to have a home soon. I know what it looks like. It's somewhere where I'll feel peaceful and I'll have my own family and they will be always be safe. No one will ever hurt them, I'll make sure of that.

One In Four has made me believe in myself. I am a better writer and a more dynamic person because he took time to be with me and listen. I want to become part of One in Four because I'm not afraid anymore (well not all the time anyway).

I feel better now. That's just the way it is.


Posted by Colm at 08:19 AM
March 19, 2003
Proposed FoI amendments 'severe' - O'Gorman

from RTE News Online

Colm O'Gorman of the 'One in Four' group, which represents those who were abused as children, has described the proposed changes in the Freedom of Information bill as 'severe'.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Committee on Finance and Public Service, Mr O'Gorman said individuals will, as a result of the proposed changes, only be able to access files which directly contain information about them and not files which are relevant to their case.

He said, under the current legislation, access to relevant files is permitted and this access is essential for those who wish to validate traumatic childhood experiences.

Mr O'Gorman said people who were abused in childhood must be able to reclaim their stories and that the passing of the amendment would further silence the already isolated voices of children and adults who have been sexually abused

ICCL expresses concern over FoI amendments

Earlier this morning the Irish Council for Civil Liberties said that the proposed amendments to the Freedom of Information legislation would have a negative impact on the right of individuals to access information about themselves.

The Council's Director, Aisling Reidy, told a meeting of the Oireachtas Finance Committee that the amendments would cut off the individual's right of access, and leave them reliant on Government discretion.

In his submission to the Oireachtas Committee, ICCL Research Officer, Liam Herrick said they found it 'particularly unusual' that there had not been a proper consultation process about the legislation.

Mr Herrick added that the proposals clearly meant that some information that was currently available under FOI would now be excluded from release under the Act.

The Oireachtas Committee Chairman, Sean Fleming, pointed out that even if information was no longer covered by FOI, it could still be released by Government Ministers if they wished to do so. He added that 99% of the information released by Government was outside the Act.

However Aisling Reidy said that some information was released by Government because they knew it could be accessed under FOI, so there was no point trying to keep it secret. She warned that if the scope of the Act was rolled back, open government would be 'whittled down'.

Ms Reidy added that there had been a 'lot of anxiety' among individuals that information they were seeking might not now be released.

Independent TD Liam Twomey asked if the ICCL considered that this was bad legislation for civil liberties. Ms Reidy replied that if implemented, the amendments would have a 'detrimental impact on citizens'.

Posted by Colm at 04:40 PM
March 14, 2003
"I will bless" By Tom

I will bless
Every place
Where a picture of
My heart shall be honored

I will bless
Every place and child
Molested under a picture of
My heart shall be honored

I will bless every child
For I am the good shepherd
I know mine and mine
Are stripped and yoked even
Onto the end of time

I will bless where my heart shall be to
Grind naked children under foot
With millstones around their necks
And there shall be everlasting fire
And wailing and gnashing of teeth

I will bless the trodden children
And my feet shall be honored by their
Hosannah lips lest I dash my foot upon a stone
If it were not so I would not have told you
To lay down and shut up finally
For I have prepared a place for you
Where my picture shall be honored
And a sissy boy shall be banged
And all manner of things shall be well

Posted by paul at 01:38 PM
March 13, 2003
Freedom of information and rights of the abused

by Bruce Arnold in The Irish Independent

THE new Freedom of Information Amendment Bill is now before the Oireachtas in circumstances that show callous disregard for personal rights. The new Bill is a disgraceful about face on the part of this Government. It reverses the approach taken by Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats when the original Act was passed by the administration led by John Bruton. Then, they wanted more freedom. Now they want even less freedom than is contained in what they then criticised as insufficient.

The approach is particularly difficult for private individuals who are trying to obtain justice from the State on their own.

The following analysis of the Bill's more gross abuses of rights and freedom to information represents an attempt to focus on just how pernicious and unjust the Bill will be.

In no respect is the legislative change of heart more disgraceful than in respect of those people who were imprisoned in the industrial school and reformatory system from the 1930s up to the 1960s, and it is on them and their experience that the following exemplary analysis is based.

Section 4 of the new Bill amends Section 6 of the Act in a way that could be construed as applying directly, and specifically, to abused people trying to obtain records. The personal records they seek are redefined in a much narrower way. Formerly, they could seek personal documents which "related to" their incarceration and were also related to the more personal documents naming them.

This has been tightened up. "Relate to" has been replaced by "contain". This affects non-personal pre-commencement records that could contain vital information for an appeal for redress. If they related to the personal records, under the previous law, they were available. Now, they have to "contain" personal information about the abused person. Otherwise, they are exempt.

The documents concerned are those on departmental inspections of institutions as well as the all-important medical reports. Already, the Department of Education has interpreted the Eithne FitzGerald Freedom of Information Act inconsistently and obstructively in this area. This interpretation has been the subject of appeal to the FoI Commissioner. An arbitrary distinction has been made, for example, between Artane quarterly medical returns and the departmental inspection reports.

This indefensible and damaging behaviour is now backed by the new FoI Bill. And it is a shameful and cruel element in the legislation. The situation now is that the Department can simply refuse access to such broad purpose documentation altogether. It will also support Barnardo's in giving the same blanket refusal.

Even though the Department of Education is proposing the transfer of this documentation, in the case of the abused, to Barnardo's, Barnardo's will still be restricted by the same provision of the new Act.

In the same amendment, the Department can make the judgment that the request is "frivolous or vexatious, or forms part of a pattern of manifestly unreasonable requests from the same requester or from different requesters . . . acting in concert."

From the outset of the redress programme, the Government sought to get the abused people from industrial schools and reformatories to join in association under the umbrella of Nova (a Government organisation), Aislinn, Right of Place, SOCA UK and other organisations. Now it is proposing to block them if they operate, as they were advised to do, "in concert". It is a complete nonsense.

The provision that gives the Department the ability to refuse information on the basis of numbers of documents that need to be inspected is a disgrace. The whole redress system stands or falls on the ability of 25,000 men and women being able to get documents that have to be sifted carefully from hundreds of thousands of documents. That is their right, to have them. It is the State's duty to make them available. Without this being covered favourably to the abused in our legislation, we are betraying them. The new Bill betrays them legally.

The new regulations on the payment of a fee or deposit, payable under section 47 in respect of the request concerned or in respect of a previous request by the same requester, is so absurd and arbitrary as not to merit examination.

These are poor people, in the main, many of them resident in the United Kingdom and therefore operating by post. They have suffered lifelong punishment and damage as a result of this State's neglect of their rights and welfare. Section 12 of the new Bill amends Section 19 of the Act and in one important and generalised change replaces the element of choice that allows the department discretion over refusal of access into an obligatory injunction: the public body "shall refuse".

It also extends the exemption on certain records from five to ten years. This will prevent, until 2008, the release of such records, and this exemption could be made to apply to an arbitrarily broad category of records relating to Government decisions.

This is of crucial importance, since a whole range of vital discussions affecting the complete redress programme for abused people falls within the five to ten year period.

Moreover, the new definitions of "Government" and "official" could be made to include almost any committee of advisors. This would include documents on the Ryan Committee, as well as the inter-departmental committee that reported in April 1999, and many other groupings.

People seeking redress for abuse in institutions have already had to face the Department of Education withholding documents because of "the deliberative process".

In one case, where the details are known to me, the Information Commissioner overruled the Department's decisions. There have been others. Under the new amendment such an appeal would have been prevented.

Colm O'Gorman, Director of One In Four discusses this issue on RTE Radio's "Morning Ireland"

Posted by Colm at 05:59 PM
March 10, 2003
Nine lawyers turn down mum's bid to counter-sue rapist of son

by Ralph Riegel in The Irish Independent

A MOTHER who assaulted the teacher who raped her son has been turned down by nine different solicitors in her bid to counter-sue the paedophile.

The man - who cannot be named for legal reasons - is now suing the woman for damages and compensation for injuries he suffered when the mother and her partner lost patience with the courts system and attacked the man over what had happened to her son.

The woman, who also cannot be named, received a 12-month suspended sentence from Cork Circuit Criminal Court for the attack, while the paedophile teacher is also appealing his conviction and 10-year jail term for rape to the Court of Criminal Appeal.

The mother said the man had "wrecked" her son's life. "Now he seems intent on destroying my life and my family as well. I'm afraid that this action could end up costing us our home. He will win his case because we did assault him. But what about what he did to my son?"

Incredibly, the woman's attempts to launch a counter-suit against the teacher have been stymied by the refusal of nine different solicitors to accept her case.

All declined to take the case on a no-win, no-fee basis - while one warned her there appeared to be no basis in Irish law for her action.

A further problem is that the two actions are clearly distinct - the abuse of the woman's son and the vigilante-style attack on the paedophile.

The frustrated mother has vowed to defend herself in the High Court and, if necessary, to fight her case all the way to Europe rather than pay a cent to the teacher who raped her son.

Posted by Colm at 11:45 AM
"Be Generous in Your Affection" by Ike White

" generous in your affection
for the woman who lives inside you
even though she may fear it
or run from it
or allow it to touch
only the surface of her needs

and on occasian
when you hear crying
without sound or tears
or sense feelings of isolation
becoming her nearest companion
sit down beside her
and console her with your closeness
and the healing power
that caring will bring
become her staunch defender
when she is suspicious
of her self-worth
or seeks her salvation in discount love
and reassure her
that beyond the conflicts
which battle for her allegiance
she will ascend to the heights
of what she dares to believe
and dare she must
if she would change
the incorrect images
which hang from the walls
and doorway of her soul..."

Posted by Colm at 11:34 AM
Child sex abuse committed by adolescents highlighted

by Lorna Siggins in The Irish Times

Care workers' conference: Society is still failing to face up to the reality that one-third of all child sexual abuse in Ireland is committed by adolescents, the Irish Association of Care Workers heard in Galway at the weekend, reports .

This was reflected in "patchy" and under-resourced Government support for therapeutic services, Ms Joan Cherry of Dublin's Northside Inter-Agency Project (NIAP), told the association's conference. Yet research showed that early therapeutic intervention was successful in up to 90 per cent of cases referred for treatment.

Ms Cherry cautioned that the research was in its early stages, partly due to society's denial of the problem. While the gender profile of offenders was largely male, there was a "taboo" around the fact that young girls have been known to abuse children, she said. International experience showed that many offenders, male and female, had been abused themselves.

Prior traumatisation, lack of intimacy as a child, a sexually repressive or oversexualised domestic environment or a home environment involving violence are factors contributing to occurrence of sexual abuse by minors.

Twenty years ago sexual behaviour by young people was viewed as "experimentation" rather than abuse, Ms Cherry said. However, any sexual behaviour by a minor with another which was "against the victim's will, without consent and was carried out in an aggressive, exploitative or threatening manner" was now defined as abuse.

The main challenge was in acknowledging this behaviour, and a percentage of abusers and their families tended to remain in denial, Ms Cherry said. A study which she carried out in her area of northside Dublin showed that of 15 young people who were confirmed as sexual abusers, only five had been referred to her project, three to other services, and seven did not receive any therapeutic service.

It was a very difficult issue and she had the utmost admiration for the courage of those who faced up to it. "But when there is denial it is impossible for social workers to intervene. The tragedy is that without help, these young people can continue their abusive behaviour."

NIAP, which was founded in 1990, is one of only two such community-based treatment programmes for adolescents in Dublin, and among fewer than half a dozen in the State, while work is also carried out in this area in private practice.

NIAP's primary aim is to prevent sexual offending through early intervention and treatment of young people between the ages of 13 and 18 years. The approach involves working with families.

"Programmes in Ireland have tended to derive from local initiatives, involving the professionals and the local population. The advantage of this is that you have very committed people involved," Ms Cherry said.

"The weakness of this is that there is very little central co-ordination of work and research, and very little government funding. So those young people who don't get help get lost in the system. Given the success rate of early action, more resources will show benefits."

Posted by Colm at 11:32 AM
L.A. district attorney seeks access to all abuse files

By ARTHUR JONES in The National Catholic Reporter

In what the Los Angeles Times called “the latest and potentially most important dispute in the yearlong investigation of the Catholic church [Los Angeles archdiocese] by prosecutors,” in the past five weeks four archdiocesan priest-officials have testified before a grand jury.

Each priest has served as archdiocesan vicar of the clergy during Cardinal Roger Mahony’s 17 years as Los Angeles archbishop.

In Ventura County, one of three counties covered by the archdiocese, the grand jury investigating clerical sexual abuse is the instrument through which the Los Angeles County district attorney is seeking access to all archdiocesan files relating to abuse.

According to the Feb. 21 Times, the archdiocese is asserting its constitutional right to withhold files containing privileged information between a bishop and a priest. Some files were handed over Feb. 22.

Archdiocesan attorney J. Michael Hennigan said it is the archdiocese’s “desire to help law enforcement” but there is a limit on the state’s access to private files. “They don’t get to rummage freely through diocesan files. We don’t understand why they need to.”

Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley was quoted as saying he will continue to insist on the release of all files: “No one and no institution -- not even men of God or the archdiocese of Los Angeles -- is above the law.”

Cooley said his office would continue “to utilize the tools we have at our disposal -- criminal investigations, subpoenas and the grand jury -- in an effort to shed light on this sad and disheartening scandal.”

While Ventura County prosecutors are investigating “at least three former priests,” Hennigan said he will oppose releasing documents affecting 17 priests suspected of abuse, arguing they are subject to attorney-client privilege and patient-therapist privilege. “We’ve always said we’d turn over documents that aren’t privileged,” but that the archdiocese will object to releasing some files in the Michael Baker case.

In 1986, Baker, an archdiocesan priest, told Mahony he had molested children (NCR, Jan. 31). Mahony sent Baker for treatment, did not report the incidents to the police, and permitted him to remain an active priest until he finally removed him following new allegations. Baker was allowed to retire in 2000.

The Times said the vicars of clergy to appear before the Ventura County grand jury were Santa Barbara Bishop Thomas J. Curry and Msgrs. Richard A. Loomis, Timothy J. Dyer and Craig A. Cox.

Posted by Colm at 11:28 AM
March 05, 2003
Church should give up lawyers for love's sake in Lent

by Patsy McGarry in The Irish Times

The Catholic Church in Ireland might consider giving up lawyers for lent, suggests Religious Affairs Correspondent, Patsy McGarry

Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of that season when, until recently, Catholics were encouraged to "give up" something, as penance for sins past. Nowadays of course the emphasis is on more positive action, usually on doing something to promote social justice.

In either context it would be appropriate for the Catholic Church in Ireland to seriously consider giving up lawyers for Lent. It might even consider doing so permanently.

There can be little doubt that lawyers have been the bane of the church when it has come to its handling of the entire clerical child sex abuse saga, here and elsewhere. And not just civil lawyers but also canon lawyers. Again and again they have betrayed the church's repeatedly proclaimed concern, above all else, with being compassionate in meeting such cases.

Instead, lawyers' seeming dry indifference to the further pain they cause, combined with an emphasis on an adversarial style, has helped more to undermine the church's pastoral credibility in dealing with these tragedies than all the normal incompetencies that can be a feature when any institution is first confronted with the awful and unfamiliar.

Examples of the destructiveness of lawyers let loose in such delicate territory abound and are familiar to most journalists who have been dealing with this issue over recent years.

These help illustrate, graphically, the twin-track - some might say hypocritical - approach adopted by the church when dealing with this fraught issue.

On the one hand there is the pious sincerity of church leaders' assertions that the victim is the priority. At the conclusion of each case in which yet another priest has been sentenced to jail for sexually abusing children a familiar statement is issued by the relevant bishop. This in instances also where the church's behaviour prior to and during a Garda investigation has left a lot to be desired.

It offers heartfelt sympathy to victims and their families; whatever help may be required and, sometimes, meetings with victims. Where settlements are concerned it frequently follows an action which was seriously hard fought behind the scenes before agreement was arrived at.

An example of the latter would be the case of Mervyn Rundle - against the Dublin archdiocese - settled so dramatically in January. He initiated the action in October 1995. It took him 6½ years to secure the settlement and an acknowledgement by Cardinal Connell that in 1985 Mervyn had been abused by Father Thomas Naughton and that, had concerns conveyed to the archdiocese before then about the priest been acted on, the abuse might not have occurred.

"The paramount concern for the future is the protection of all children against the risk of sexual abuse," the cardinal continued, repeating that sentiment following just about all other such cases. The template he employs is precisely that used by his brother bishops in similar circumstances.

Those of us reporting on this area over recent years are all too familiar with this tough cop (lawyer) soft cop (prelate) approach, sometimes indeed personally, in dealing with cases. We have, on occasion, found ourselves listening, sometimes impatiently, to the "if only we knew" pleadings of senior clergy with one ear, while with the other we are being assailed by lawyers threatening fire, brimstone, or at the least awful and terrible legal action if we dare repeat in print what the dogs in the street know to be true.

It can prove very difficult at times to square that particular circle, not least as, in law, the lawyers are acting on their client's (the church's) instructions.

And in those moments when the "civil" lawyers are comparatively silent, canon lawyers intrude with their assertions on the unassailable right of the church to conduct its affairs in secret - far from the madding eyes of mere Joe Public.

Letters received from church lawyers by some victims of clerical child sex abuse truly need to be seen to be believed. And in many instances, whether through statements to gardaí or from psychiatric reports, the answers to the questions are already well known to the lawyers.

But that does not prevent them from prying again into delicate undergrowth, usually demanding a repeat of responses as to the nature of the abuse and, in traditional confession style, how often. Some such letters have, outrageously in the circumstances, even queried whether payment was involved.

It might be argued that such questions must necessarily be put by a lawyer when they form part of the claim made against a client. But surely not when the answers have already been supplied. What is the purpose of putting them again? Softening up prior to agreeing a settlement figure? Humiliation? Intimidation?

It may be good legal practice to adopt such an approach to a sex abuse victim in defending the interests of the church. But one has to ask where is the first commandment in all this? Where is the love of neighbour? Where is the love of God? Where is the love at all?

Taking legal advice, it seems!

Posted by Colm at 03:13 PM
March 03, 2003
6-mth sentence for assault on boy

From RTE News online

A 58-year-old former sailor who was described as being a member of a paedophile sex ring operating in Cobh, County Cork, has been sentenced to six months in jail for indecently assaulting a seven-year old boy.

Patrick Collins of Bellmont Place, Cobh, is currently serving a ten-year sentence for abusing four other boys.

Gardaí say he is the third member of a paedophile ring operating in Cobh to be jailed. Patrick Collins was described in court as a serial abuser.

In February 2001 he was sentenced to 15 years in jail for abusing and raping young boys aged between six and 12. That sentence was later reduced to ten years on appeal.

At the Circuit Criminal Court in Cork today, he pleaded guilty to two counts of indecently assaulting another seven-year-old boy.

The victim, now in his late teens, came forward in November 2000. The court was told the abuse had had a traumatic impact on his life.

Sergeant John Quinn told the court that subsequent investigations by Gardaí established that Collins was 'deeply involved' in a paedophile ring operating in Cobh, with his abuse taking place over three decades.

Patrick Collins is said to be the third member of this paedophile ring to be jailed. Two are serving jail sentences of six years and two years, while others are currently under investigation by Gardaí.

Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin added a further six months to the ten-year sentence Patrick Collins is already serving.

He ordered that he be placed under the supervision of the Probation and Welfare Service for four years following his release. He will also be placed on the sex offenders' register for ten years.

Audio and Video

RTE News At One: Paschal Sheehey, Southern Correspondent.

RTE 1.00 News: Pascal Sheehy, Southern Editor.

Posted by Colm at 06:05 PM