Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Ryan Report on Child Abuse

Lots of news this week on TV, radio, and in the papers about the Ryan Report on Child Abuse in religious institutions. I have not read the report - nor do I intend to. The media have adequately conveyed the horror of what went on - I can hardly believe that all this was taking place in my time. I have chosen my words carefully here - this is a difficult subject to talk about, but it is impossible to be silent. These are my own thoughts - you the reader can make up your own mind.

Thankfully, I was reared in a safe and loving home - I was lucky. I was an altar boy in Tomacork Church where nothing untoward happened. In school I can safely say that I do not know of a single incidence of sexual abuse that occured during my time in the four schools I attended:
  • Carnew National School (1964-1971)
  • Scoil na nÓg, Trabolgan (1971-1972)
  • Cistercian College Roscrea (1972-1977)
  • FCJ Bunclody (1977-1978)
Yes - we were subject to corporal punishment, a form of physical abuse. I learned early on that a good way to avoid punishment was to learn my lessons and behave - I was a quiet lad. In Carnew NS I think I was only slapped a few times in the first couple of years. There was no corporal punishment in Trabolgan or in FCJ (that I can remember). In CCR there was the dreaded leather strap that was only used on rare occasions - I never "received" the leather. In CCR I did get a few "clips-on-the-ear" for trivial issues - failing to pick up litter that was not my own when ordered to, borrowing a pencil sharpener from the desk of the boy behind me, cursing, and being caught giving "nix". But that was the extent of "physical abuse" - I have no hang-ups or mental scars about this. My experience was that CCR was a safe school where the majority of the teachers and staff were inspiring people who had the education and well-being of the boys at heart. When I got to Trinity I did hear from fellow students that I was lucky that I did not go to a Christian Brothers school.

But I often wondered what might have been. Within weeks of first arriving in CCR in 1972 as a 12 year old I was asked to come to the bedroom of one of the priests after lights out - which I did in my pyjamas. He never laid a hand on me, nor did anything that could in any way be regarded as sexual or physical abuse. In fact all he did was talk and there wasn't even the suspicion of abusive activity that night as far as I can tell 37 years later. I thought nothing of it at the time, though never forgot it - it never happened again. Today of course this would be regarded as highly inappropriate - what was he thinking of? I'll not name him here, though I'm sure if any CCR boys from the 1970s ever read this they will figure out who it was very quickly.

I was as innocent a boy that you could get in 1972 and I'm sure I would have been an easy target for any of the monsters that the Ryan Report pulls no punches in exposing - fuck them all.

I feel very sorry for the many wonderful brothers, priests, and nuns who were kind and gentle with children in their care - what must they be feeling? Many of course are guilty of standing idly by while their peers abused children, and must surely feel that they could have done more to prevent what went on. With the exception of yer man above - all that I had any dealings with were wonderful teachers and carers who helped mould me into the person I am today. I am very grateful to them all.

As part of my job I have to be Garda vetted and have had to attend a compulsory course on Child Protection as a few of NCI's students may be under the age of 18. I feel dirty that I have to go through this - guilty until proven innocent. Of course it is right that all involved in education and the care of children should be vetted - though I'm certain that evil monsters (eg Ian Huntley in Soham, UK) will find ways to get into the education system and evade restrictions that are implemented to protect children.

There is only one place for the Ryan Report monsters and that is in jail - fuck them all, no mercy.

1 comment:

  1. We owe it to the victims of the congregations and to ourselves, as a modern, secular state to close down and disband the groups shown to have committed abuses in the Ryan report on child abuse. Our inaction and dithering on this subject is similar to what previous administrations and individuals did or didn’t do. Talk of settings up a trust fund is a complete cop out. I have no sense that the government has any empathy with the victims and it is devoid of any ideas that will crystallise public sentiment and set out a programme of action to address, once and for all, the legacy of decades of organised rape and torture concentration camps for children. As I write it now I still cannot believe it… Rape and torture camps for children….. and who is organising it? Perhaps a psychopathic regime in Cambodia? A doomsday quasi-Christian cult in Central America? No! Religious congregations in Ireland.

    The religious orders covered by the report have done some great things and provided some excellent educational and social services to Ireland over the past several decades. This, however, is irrelevant because the of what was done by those who were members of and who managed those organisations and that we must accept the collateral damage that will come with purging this heinous and evil virus from Ireland. My view is that the response here is to close those congregations with immediate effect; close down their day to day operations in an orderly fashion; quantify their assets (both here and internationally), seize all of their assets and resources (having been paid by the Irish State to provide care for children, but having failed to do so); transition over their active services to, say, the Department of Education and the HSE; form a plan to handle their staff/members (in retirement etc).

    The key point being that the institutions themselves must not be legally permitted to exist, nor to have or recruit members, nor to have bank accounts and that the use of the brand and logo is illegal!

    The Department of Foreign affairs and the consular services should lobby countries internationally where these congregations exist so that the initiative is consistent across territorial boundaries.

    Prosecute any living members of the congregations where the DPP considers that sufficient and corroborated evidence exists.

    This would send out the right signal that we’re dealing with our past abuses effectively.

    I was educated by Jesuits and had a very positive secondary school experience. I know many people who have had an excellent education from some of the orders implicated in the abuse. Nevertheless, I believe that the congregations that are the subject of the Ryan report must be closed down. We owe this to the victims. In the same way that all traces of national socialism were eradicated from post-war Germany, we must also purge these poisonous organisations from Ireland and consign them to a very shameful period of modern Irish history.