27 May 2009

The Catholic Church in Ireland

I wrote about the release of the recent report into the decades long, systematic, extreme and abhorrent violence, abuse and neglect. I have read more of the report and news and opinion articles on blogs and in newspapers. I have witnessed the pathetic response of the Irish Catholic church spokespeople, and even worse, the religious orders that perpetrated these crimes and who have no idea what true sorrow and repentance means.

Then via John's blog I heard this man. I witnessed his anguish and his righteous anger. I do not know how those in power in government and church can allow this man, Michael O'Brien, and all the others like him who were abused in those places, to continue to suffer.

This is outrageous. It is our national shame. We can't allow this to just hold the headlines for a few weeks and then move on to something else. There has to be a fundamental change in Irish society.

You will not be able to watch this without crying. There might be a subtitled version available soon which I can embed instead. However, Will Knott has kindly provided a transcript of the video which is copied below.

(Edit, the video is now subtitled.)

Mr. Chairman, I’m surprised at the minister there now.

First of all Mr Minister (directed at Minister Noel Dempsey) you made a bags of it in the beginning by changing the judges. You made a complete bags of it at that time, because I went to the La Foy commission and ye had seven barristers there, questioning me and telling that I was telling lies, when I told them that I got raped of a Saturday, got a merciful beating after it, and then stuffed…

… he came along the following morning and put holy communion in my mouth.

You don’t know what happened there. You haven’t the foggiest, you’re talking through your hat there. And you’re talking to a Fianna Fáil man, a former councilor and former mayor you’re talking to, that worked tooth and nail or you, for the party that you’re talking about now. Ye didn’t do it right, ye got it wrong.

Admit it.

And apologize for doing that. Because you don’t know what I feel inside me. You don’t know the hurt I am.

You said it was non-adversarial.

My God.

Seven barristers.

Throwing questions at us.


I tri.. attempted to commit suicide, there’s the woman who saved me from committing suicide, on me way down from Dublin, after spending five days at the commission. Five days I spent at the commission. They brought a man over from Rome, ninety odd years of age, to tell me I was telling lies.

That I wasn’t beaten for an hour, non-stop by two of them.

By two of them.

Non-stop from head to toe without a shred of cloth on my body.

My God minister.

And could I speak to you (comment directed to Leo Varadkar, Fianna Gael), and ask your leader, would you stop making a political football of this.

You hurt this when you do that.

You tear the shreds from inside our body.

For God’s sake, try and give us some peace.

Try to give us some peace and not to continue hurting us.

That woman will tell you how many times I jump out of the bed at night with the sweat pumping out of me. Because I see these fellas at the end of the bed with their fingers doing that (gestures) to me. And pulling me in to the room, to rape me, to bugger me and bate the shite out of me. That’s the way it is.

And you know what?

You know what, sometimes I listen to the leader of Fianna Fáil. I even listened to the apology. T’was mealy mouthed, but at least t’was an apology.

At least t’was an apology.

The Rosminians said in the report, they said they were easy on us. The first day I went to them. The first day to Rosminians in my home which is Ferryhouse in Clonmel, ’cause its the only home I know. He said “you’re in it for the money”.

We didn’t want money.

We didn’t want money. We wanted the pr… someone to stand up and say “yes, these fellas were buggered, these people were ra…”

Little girls. My daughter, oh sorry, my sister. A month old when she was put in to an institution. Eight of us from the one family, dragged by the ISPCC cruelty man. Put in to two cars, brought to the court in Clonmel. Left standing there without food or anything, and the fella in the long black frock and the white collar came along and he put us in to a van.

Not a van, a scut truck, I don’t know what you call it now. And landed us below with two hundred other boys. Two night later I was raped.

How can anyone…

You’re talking about constitution. These people would gladly say “yes” to a constitution to freeze the funds of the religious orders.

This state, this country of ours, would say “yes” to that constitution if you have to change it.

Don’t say you can’t change it.

You’re the government of this state. You run this state. So for God’s sake stop mealy mouthing. ‘Cause I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of it.

You’re turning me away from voting Fianna Fáil which I have done from the first day that I could vote. Because. And you know me. You know me Mister Minister. You’ve met me on a number of occasions. So you know what I’m like.


kathleen said...

That was very difficult to watch-I sincerely hope that Mr. O'Brien and all of the others who have lived through this..(there really isn't just one word to adequately describe their ordeal ) can eventually find some peace.
Try as I might, I simply can not understand such heinous abuse of power at the expense of children-or of anyone. Had I not read your original post, I wouldn't have known of this....It scares me that something this terrible and enormous is not world wide news. Especially when I think of how many priests have been prosecuted here in the states for similar crimes. This is outrageous. A way must be sought and found to change this. This can not get swept under the rug.

Sharon McDaid said...

Kathleen, it is very hard to watch, To witness such a terrible pain on another person can only make us feel a portion of their hurt. Michael O'Brien might not want to be called a hero, but for a man of his age to speak up on national TV about what he endured, took a hell of a lot of courage. I think the perpetrators would want him and the other abuse targets to shut up and to be too ashamed to tell what they are suffering still. But I hope they will scream it out so we can't ignore them and sweep this shame away.

Grannymar said...

For so many it is an opportunity to now openly and for the first time accept and talk about what happened to them in childhood. The report this week does not cover abuse by diocesan clergy who are not members of a religious order, that is separate and yet to come.

In 1966 the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, a Roman Catholic religious order, apologized unconditionally for the ''physical and emotional trauma'' its nuns inflicted on children raised in its orphanages and schools.

I attended one of their day schools in Dublin for five years. It was new. They called it a College in order to charge greater fees. I was a slow learner, a fact I constantly admit to. On a daily basis I was caned, belittled, invited to remove my shoes and socks to use my toes for counting! I was told I was stupid and would N-E-V-E-R make anything of myself. I was extremely thin (6st 12ozs by the time I reached 21!) and this was remarked upon regularly in class, it was considered a cause for amusement.

Alas, the past week has upset me as I think of those whose lives were ruined; and for myself I feel the pull of the dark clouds dragging me back to the darkness of those early years.

@Kathleen, It is receiving world wide coverage. I have many followers in the US, Canada, India and Australia who are talking about it.

Grannymar said...

Sharon that should read 1996 and not 1966.

For reference purposes I am 62 years of age - the nightmare never really went away. How much worse must it be for those who were raped!

Sharon McDaid said...

Grannymar. Thank you for being brave enough to describe what you had to endure at a Sisters of Mercy day school. The same order ran the 2 schools I attended but by then they had managed to end that type of treatment of children. In fact, that they were able to run my schools with zero corporal punishment (there was the odd light tap on the hand in my early years) shows up the lie they told that such abuse was needed to keep order. I was lucky, the nuns I was taught by were all delightful, committed women. I can't help but wonder now what those nice women knew about what their sisters were up to in the industrial schools, especially the older nuns. I know too that my mum had it harder when she went to the other convent secondary school (for those who didn't get into the grammar.) She told me a bit about the taunting and slaps she suffered and she would have been at school at the same time as you.

I am so sorry for the pain of all those children, and the damage it has done to them as they have grown up too. The past few days might make it possible for some to speak up about what they suffered for the first time and to know that they will be believed and listened to. But like you said, I worry about those for whom all of this triggers feelings they would rather forget and that might drag them to renewed despair. The needs of the victims are of prime importance.

I hope that when the memories of those vile taunts and beatings piled onto the younger you come back and threaten to hurt you again, you can shout at them in righteous anger that those bitches were wrong, they got you all wrong. They got a lot of people all wrong. Take care and lots of love.

kathleen said...

I have a question...my grandparents came over from Ireland(early 1920's)-they were DEVOUT-super catholics-(they could have worn capes!) I was always led to believe that in Ireland, the church held incredible power-Is this factual-and if so, does the church still have the same amount of power today. There was something that Mr. O'Brien had said...that keeps coming back to me..@Grannymar-thank you for sharing your experiences...and for publicising this case.It has very much affected me.