Carraig na bhFear, Cork: Helplines Open For Former Pupils Abused At ‘Colaiste an Chroi Naofa’ : UPDATED

1 Sep

“There seemed to be no concern for the children who were abused.”
Eugene Greene is due for release from prison on 6th December 2008 after serving only nine of his twelve-year sentence.

Some parishioners have deposited approximately €25,000 in a bank account for Greene



Five fresh claims of child sex abuse at Carrignavar school:

FIVE new allegations of child sexual abuse at a Cork school were received by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in the past month, according to the order.

The complaints were all lodged since Senator Mark Daly used Seanad privilege in July to disclose how the order had failed to properly supervise Fr Donnacha Mac Carthaigh, former principal of the Sacred Heart College in Carrignavar, Co Cork.

Fr Mac Carthaigh was on restricted ministry after seven complaints of abuse were lodged against him between 1986 and 2008.

The complaints refer to the period when it was a boys’ boarding school. It has been a co-educational day school since the 1990s.

Garda sources have revealed that in recent weeks, stations nationwide were contacted by ex-pupils with concerns about past abuse.

The HSE’s director of children and family services, Gordon Jeyes, has said he is to investigate child welfare at the former boarding school. The National Bureau of Criminal Investigation is also investigating.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church is investigating the order’s handling of abuse complaints.

Last night, a spokesman for the order said: “It is our intention that all survivors of child sexual abuse will be offered appropriate help and support through the proper agencies. We encourage those who wish to come forward to contact the Towards Healing helpline.”

*Towards Healing: 1800 30352; HSE freephone helpdesk: 1800 742 800; Harbour: 1800 234 116; Cork Sexual Violence Centre 1800 496 496; One in Four 01 662 4070.

Children’s minister Frances Fitzgerald encouraged people to get in contact with counsellors …

Children's minister Frances Fitzgerald encouraged people to get in contact with counsellors and advisors

Several helplines have been opened for survivors of abuse at a Cork boarding school under investigation.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is working alongside a number of agencies to ensure people abused at Colaiste an Chroi Naofa in Carraig na bhFear have access to services.

Children’s minister Frances Fitzgerald encouraged people to get in contact with counsellors and advisors. “The HSE and Gardai are continuing with their inquires on this matter,” she said.

An inquiry was launched over child protection concerns at the boarding school after a Senator used parliamentary privilege to name a priest as an alleged abuser.

The joint HSE and garda probe centres on the protection and welfare of children at the school while it was run by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.

Gardai have opened a dedicated telephone line – 9am to 9pm – at the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit. Anyone with information is urged to call 01 666 3395, 01 666 3430 or the Garda Confidential Line 1-800-666-111.

Alternatively survivors in need of support can call the following freephone helplines: The HSE National Counselling Service (NCS) on 1800 235 234; Harbour Counselling Service on 1800 234 116; or Cork Sexual Violence Centre (formerly Cork Rape Crisis Centre) on 1800 496 496.

They can also call Victims of Rape and Sexual Abuse on 1800 778 888; Connect on 1800 477 47; One in Four on 01 662 4070; The Samaritans on 1850 60 90 90; or Towards Healing Counselling on 1800 303 528.


A FORMER Catholic priest in Queensland, Australia, went to confession more than 1,500 times to admit sexually abusing boys. He was told to go home and pray.

In a 2003 affidavit, then 68-year-old Michael Joseph McArdle, who was jailed for six years in October of that year, claimed to have made confession about his paedophile activities to about 30 priests over a 25-year period.

He noted: “As the children would leave after each respective assault, I would feel an overwhelming sense of sadness for them and remorse, so much so it would almost be physical. I was devastated after the assaults, every one of them.

So distressed would I become that I would attend confessionals weekly and on other occasions fortnightly and would confess that I had been sexually assaulting young boys.” He said the only assistance or advice he was given was to undertake penance in the form of prayer.

He claimed that after each confession, “it was like a magic wand had been waved over me.” McArdle’s affidavit would appear to contradict a widespread view in Ireland that child sex abusers are unlikely to admit such abuse to a priest in the confessional.

Common sense would suggest that priest abusers particularly, and as above, would be likely to avail of the seal of the confessional as they seek forgiveness for what they have done and maybe even help in controlling their impulses. More is required in such cases of the confessor priest than penance, prayer and sympathy.

In that context it was unfair and disproportionate of the Catholic primate Cardinal Séan Brady last Sunday to portray proposed new child protection legislation, which would make it mandatory in all cases to report child abuse, as an attack on freedom of religion.

In Knock, he said “the inviolability of the seal of confession is so fundamental to the very nature of the Sacrament that any proposal that undermines that inviolability is a challenge to the right of every Catholic to freedom of religion and conscience”.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said that new child protection legislation would apply to doctors and priests, even where this information is revealed in the confessional.

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has said on the matter that “if there is a law in the land, it has to be followed by everybody. There are no exceptions, there are no exemptions.”

In this newspaper yesterday she said “what is required is a positive piece of legislation which will encourage a culture where child protection is taken seriously” and that such legislation would “require a careful teasing out”. It will.

That is what all sides should now be about.

Freedom of religion is an important principle in a pluralist society but all should remind themselves that the most important issue here is the protection of children.

Other jurisdictions deal with the issue of priest-penitent privilege in various ways. With goodwill, it ought to be possible here to negotiate through conflicting rights and freedoms in the primary interest of children.



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