'abhorrent' | 

Past pupils of Blackrock College respond to ‘profoundly upsetting’ abuse allegations

It has been revealed that 57 allegations of abuse were made against members of the Spiritans at Blackrock College, Dublin.

Blackrock College in Dublin. Photo: RollingNews.ie© RollingNews.ie

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

A union representing past pupils of Blackrock College has offered support to the 57 victims of “abhorrent abuse” while on campus.

The Holy Ghost Order that runs Blackrock College in Dublin, known officially as the Spiritans, is facing 233 allegations of abuse against 77 Irish Spiritans in Ireland and overseas.

Two siblings spoke about the abuse they endured at the school during the 1970s and early 1980s on a recent RTÉ Radio One documentary.

The Order revealed it has paid more than €5 million in abuse settlements and support services since 2004.

The union that represents former students of Blackrock College has today said that the news is “profoundly upsetting.”

“It is a matter of great sadness to the union that such abuse was inflicted on pupils of the schools and we acknowledge that the matters raised in the media are profoundly upsetting and life changing for the victims of such abhorrent abuse.

“The union deeply regrets that pupils in the college and Willow Park were not protected from this abuse and we encourage anyone who has been affected by such abuse to seek the appropriate advice and assistance.

“We would encourage any pupil who is an abuse victim to come forward and begin the process of healing with the full support of all your peers.”

The union published a number of support services to help support victims.

Addressing past pupils, it said:

"The Union wants you to know that if you have been affected by such experiences there are practical and moral supports available on a confidential basis by contacting the Union.”

They encouraged anyone impacted to get in touch via email should they need support.

The RTÉ One documentary told listeners the story of two brothers, who attended the school and experienced sexual abuse during their time there.

The older sibling began secondary school in 1973, when one of the teachers took interest in him and gradually began to abuse him.

The priest who abused him was a Holy Ghost/Spiritan father.

The abuse took place during private swimming sessions at the school pool. He was later abused by another priest.

The programme will also revealed how his younger brother was 12 when he was first invited to swimming lessons by the same abuser.

Neither boy spoke of what happened to them until 2002, when clerical childe sex abuse scandals began to make headlines.

They revealed what had happened to their parents, each other and the Gardaí.

Multiple charges were brought against their alleged abuser, who at that time was 82 years old and still living on the campus of Blackrock College.

He denied the charges and launched a legal battle that culminated in 2007, when the courts decided a criminal case should be halted.

The man died in 2010. He never faced criminal trial.

The Spiritans issued a general apology in 2012 when an audit reviewing their child protection practices revealed serial abuse that went undetected for years.

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