Abuse claims | 

Holy Ghost Order that runs Blackrock College says 57 people alleged they were abused on campus

The Holy Ghost Order has paid more than €5m in abuse settlement claims and support services since 2004, it said today

Blackrock College

Conor FeehanIndependent.ie

The Holy Ghost Order that runs Blackrock College in Dublin has said 57 people have alleged they were abused on the campus.

And it has paid more than €5m in abuse settlement claims and support services since 2004, it said today.

The Order, known officially as the Spiritans, said 233 people had made allegations of abuse against 77 Irish Spiritans in ministries throughout Ireland and overseas.

In relation to Blackrock College, it said 57 people alleged they were abused on the Blackrock campus and the Order has made settlements with 12 people relating to abuse there and all settlements have been funded from Spiritan congregation resources.

The Spiritans in Ireland confirmed the settlement figure to RTÉ Radio 1's Documentary on One programme, after two siblings spoke about abuse they suffered at Blackrock College during the 1970s and early 1980s.

Their story is due to feature in a broadcast this evening on RTÉ Radio 1 during the final hour of the Drivetime programme.

Blackrock College this morning referred enquiries to the Spiritan order when contacted by independent.ie.

The current Provincial of the Spiritans, Fr Martin Kelly, confirmed to RTE that the order had made "multiple monetary contributions" to people who alleged abuse at the hands of Spiritan community members - and since 2004 the total amount paid by the Spiritans, in settlement of claims of abuse, and towards support services, amounted to over €5m.

Fr Kelly also said it has been the practice of the Spiritan congregation to cover legal fees incurred by its members in connection with their legal representation in criminal cases in situations where members did not have the personal finances to do so.

The brothers who will feature in tonight's documentary are the first to openly speak about the child sexual abuse they suffered at Blackrock College, where the older sibling began his secondary education in September 1973, RTE has said.

The documentary will tell how during his first year, one of the teachers took a special interest in him and gradually began to sexually abuse him. The priest who abused him was a Holy Ghost/Spiritan father.

The abuse took place during private swimming sessions at the pool on the school campus. Another priest from Blackrock College also began to abuse the boy, who did not tell anyone about it.

The programme will also reveal how this boy’s younger brother was 12 when he first began to be invited to swimming sessions by the first priest that abused his older sibling on the grounds of Blackrock College, and that over the next number of years, he too was repeatedly sexually abused.

Neither brother spoke of their abuse, until early 2002 when clerical child sex abuse dominated news headlines.

This led the brothers to reveal their abuse, first to their parents, and then to one another. They then made statements to An Garda Síochána which led to multiple charges being brought against their abuser.

The documentary will also reveal that by the time the complaints were made the Spiritan priest was 82 years old and still living on the grounds of Blackrock College. But he denied the charges and launched a legal case to stop the criminal proceedings.

In 2007, the courts decided that the criminal case against the brothers' abuser should be halted, and the Holy Ghost father died in 2010, having never had to face trial.

In 2012, the Spiritans issued a general apology having been heavily criticised in an audit reviewing child protection practices.

This audit also detailed how serial abusers within the Spiritans/Holy Ghost Order went undetected and unchecked, giving them unmonitored access to children during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

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