Alliance Support Group

May 2013 Archives

Australian cardinal apologises for child abuse cover-up




Cardinal George Pell is an advisor to Pope Francis on Vatican reforms
Cardinal George Pell is an advisor to Pope Francis on Vatican reforms

The head of the Catholic church in Australia this morning blamed a former culture of silence for the cover-up of child abuse by clergy.

He said the cover-up made it difficult to know the full extent of the abuse, but added that the number of cases had dropped significantly since the church started taking stronger action.

Cardinal George Pell, an advisor to Pope Francis on Vatican reforms, told a parliamentary hearing the church had been slow to address the suffering of victims and again issued an apology.

"I am fully apologetic, and absolutely sorry," he said in a tense hearing marked by at times angry questioning over the church's compensation and investigations.

Cardinal Pell was questioned for more than four hours.

He said the number of reports of abuse by clergy members peaked in the 1970s and 80s, but had fallen as the church changed its approach.

"The evidence of misbehaving, crimes, has been significantly reduced. I hope the worst is behind us," Cardinal Pell said, adding 300 people in Victoria had received compensation for abuse.

Child abuse scandals have haunted the church for more than two decades in Australia, Europe and the United States.

Cardinal Pell was giving evidence to a Victorian state inquiry in Melbourne, in relation to his role as Archbishop of Melbourne from 1996 to 2001, when he implemented protocols for dealing with abuse complaints.

Before a packed public gallery, Cardinal Pell issued another apology to the victims of sexual abuse, and said church leaders in the past had been reluctant to share information about accused priests.

"So I don't think many persons in the leadership of the Catholic church knew what a horrendous, widespread mess we were sitting on," he said.

But since the 1990s, the church was more open in dealing with the issue, and conducts stronger background checks on people joining the clergy, he said.

He also denied acting like "Pontius Pilate" in brushing aside claims and rejected accusations from MPs that his past references to the church being "bled to death" by abuse inquiries referred to concern about compensation payments.

"In my mind it was a secondary consideration, the financial consideration. Whatever the legislature decides is appropriate, we will pay," Cardinal Pell said.

The parliamentary inquiry has heard child abuse by members of the church was covered up, and that the Catholic church was more concerned with protecting priests than protecting victims.

It has been told that Cardinal Pell's predecessor as Archbishop of Melbourne, Frank Little, dealt with complaints confidentially, kept no records, and moved accused priests to new parishes where some continued to sexually abuse children.

Little died in 2008. But Cardinal Pell acknowledged Little covered up the issue and did not discuss it with advisers or other bishops.

"He inherited a situation where there were no protocols, no procedures. And he never spoke to anybody about it. He didn't know how to deal with it," Cardinal Pell said.

Cardinal Pell has also been criticised by victim support groups for his decision to accompany an accused paedophile priest into court in 1993, but said the action was not meant as a slight against abuse victims.

The priest, Gerald Ridsdale, was convicted and jailed for 19 years for molesting and raping 40 children between 1961 and 1987.

Cardinal Pell said he was aware of the "terrible crimes" and knew Ridsdale was going to plead guilty, and his decision to walk with him to court was not meant as a sign that he did not support the victims of his crimes.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has set up a rare Royal Commission, the highest form of investigation in Australia, into how churches, government bodies and other organisations dealt with child sex abuse cases.

Cardinal Pell has said the church would fully cooperate with the Royal Commission, which has yet to start hearing evidence and could run for several years.

The Catholic church is Australia's largest, with 5.4 million followers, representing about one in four Australians. 



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Memorial to victims of institutional abuse appealed to An Bord Pleanala


An artist's impression of the garden containing the proposed memorial.
The planned memorial to the victims of institutional abuse at Dublin's Garden of Remembrance has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.
The Irish Georgian Society has appealed the decision by Dublin City Council to locate the memorial at the garden in Parnell Square.
Emmeline Henderson, assistant director and conservation manager, of the Irish Georgian Society, told The Sunday Business Post the society was "loathe to object" to the memorial, because it was "such a really sensitive topic". But she said they strongly disagreed with the location and configuration of the current proposal.
"We were very cautious about making the objection," she said. "We didn't want it misconstrued, because we have nothing but sympathy and respect for the people who survived all the awful industrial schools. "It was only when I realised the abuse survivors themselves felt it was an insult to them that we went ahead."
In a letter to Dublin City Council, John Kelly, the co-ordinator of the Irish Survivors of Child Abuse (Irish SOCA), said the use of the existing national monument to commemorate the 1916 Rising, was a cause of concern for survivors.
"We believe that any redesign or rework to the Garden of Remembrance to include an alleged memorial to childhood abuse victims is aesthetically grotesque and demonstrates a lamentable shortfall in clear thinking at the Department of Public Works," Kelly wrote.
Kelly said that many survivors completely disagreed with the wording to be inscribed in stone on the memorial as outlined in the 2009 Ryan Report. He said they believed the words were a "crass attempt" to "place distance between the abused suffered and the state".
The Georgian Society was one of more than half a dozen objections made to Dublin City Council about the proposed memorial. Dublin City Council gave the go-ahead to the plans earlier this month.
In its letter to Dublin City Council outlining its objection to the memorial, the Irish Georgian Society said it took issue with the assertion that the memorial represented an "environmental improvement" which would create an "inviting" and "accessible civic space", as the planning application stated.
Conversely, the society believes, the construction of the memorial, which is subterranean and located under the Children of Lir statue, would result in a "dank, unsafe space" which would attract "anti-social behaviour". 

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Illegitimate Children (Affiliation Orders) Act, 1930 

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Order settles over US, Canada abuse cases


By Cormac O'Keeffe
Irish Examin
er Reporter

The Christian Brothers has been urged to mediate settlements with survivors of historic sexual abuse instead of fighting cases in the courts following a landmark deal in North America.

The call comes after details emerged of a $16.5m (€12.7m) settlement involving the Christian Brothers in the US and Canada and more than 400 adults who were sexually abused as children by members of the religious order.

The victims claimed abuse at schools and childcare facilities run by the Christian Brothers and the Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc, in 17 US states and Canada from the late 1940s or early 1950s until the 1980s.

“Intense negotiations during the past three months have led to painful concessions in bringing about this mutually agreed upon settlement. This settlement will allow an opportunity to recommit ourselves to bringing the gospel of Jesus,” Brother Kevin Griffith of the Christian Brothers said in a statement.

James Stang, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said the settlement reached in a US bankruptcy court also enabled the victims to pursue more assets from the order, such as real estate or insurance claims.

A committee representing the victims, who claimed abuse mostly by brothers of the order, agreed to the settlement terms.

In 2011, the Christian Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection in response to the sexual abuse claims.

Maeve Lewis, executive director of One in Four, called on the Christian Brothers in Ireland to engage in a similar mediative process with survivors of child sexual abuse, namely those abused in day schools run by the order.

She said that, unlike survivors of the industrial school system, these survivors were not covered by the Redress Board. Instead, they have to engage with the order directly.

“Many of our clients find that when they engage with the Christian Brothers they are difficult to deal with.

“I would love to see the Christian Brothers enter into the mediation process and seek fair settlements.”

As part of the compensation deal between the State and religious orders in 2009, the Christian Brothers agreed to pay €30m and to transfer playing pitches then valued at €127m.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn last year urged all congregations to increase their contribution up from €1.36bn to €1.47bn.

The Christian Brothers said it could not up its offer as it risked going bankrupt. It also said it needed to keep money aside for anticipated claims from survivors of its day schools.

- Additional reporting by Reuters   

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Memorial for institutional abuse victims gets go-ahead


A planned €500,000 memorial to victims of institutional child abuse in Dublin city centre has moved a step closer.

Dublin City Council has given its approval for the Journey of Light project, which will require temporary movement of the 11-tonne, Children of Lir sculpture in the Garden of Remembrance to the rear of the proposed memorial. This will facilitate construction of a walkway through the podium beneath it to connect the two public memorials, which are accessed from alternate sides of Parnell Square just above the northern end of O’Connell Street.

The design features a water feature on either side of the walkway, seating and night-time lighting.

The €500,000 project was the subject of a design competition run by the Department of Education and judged by a panel that included representatives of institutional abuse victims.

However, there were many objections, some claiming the location would diminish the significance of the Garden of Remembrance which opened in the 1960s to commemorate those who died in the cause of Irish freedom.

The abuse memorial was recommended in the Ryan report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, published four years ago. It will feature the text of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s apology on behalf of the State to victims, to be inscribed along the walls of the walkway.

The conditions include many of a conservation nature, and a stipulation that any archaeological evidence of the pre-existing Chinese Gardens that were located in the area should be recorded and documented.

The Office of Public Works said it did not wish to comment on the timescale of any work beginning until the project clears the planning process.

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The Statutory Fund

The Statutory Fund


To date we have not been given any details about the Fund.  The Committee have not finalised the Criteria for the fund and so we, like you have no details.

Speculation, rumour, misinformation and conjecture are leading to a great deal of concerns for some and worry for many.  We promise you, once details are given to us, we will, as always publish them.

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Temple Bar Gallery + Studios is pleased to present 10th President, a project  by Irish artist Seamus Nolan.

As a way of honouring the survivors of institutional abuse in Ireland and of recognising those who died in institutional and State care, Seamus Nolan has invited President Michael D Higgins to hand over, for the period of one day, the Presidency of Ireland posthumously to Willie Delaney, a child who died whilst under the care of the state. Willie Delaney, 13 when he died had spent the preceding three years in St Joseph’s industrial school Letterfrack, Co. Galway. His name has been put forward by Seamus Nolan as a representative of the children who have suffered abuse, neglect and fatal injury  throughout the history of the state.

On the 20th of May an event organised by Seamus Nolan will take place to commemorate the publishing of the Ryan report and to confer posthumously the role of president upon Willie Delaney. This coronation will take place regardless of whether the proposal is accepted or not by the office of the President.

The exhibition at Temple Bar Gallery + Studio will include, alongside documentation and artefacts from the process and development of the project, a film work by Seamus Nolan which touches on the story of Willie Delaney’s short life and death. Free texts about Willie Delaney and the legacy of his story by Fin Dwyer and Francis McKee will also be available. Also on display will be a version of the Presidential seal re-designed by Jim Fitzpatrick

By presenting this material in a public exhibition space, the project seeks to address the unquestioned acceptance of State and religious authority over the rights of the individual and the welfare of the most vulnerable. In conferring the highest authority in the country on to William Delaney, Nolan aims to activate a dialogical, cultural and historic relationship between those that are honoured and those who have the power to honour.

Notes to the editor

The Candidate
Willie Delaney (1957 – 1970) was 10 years old in 1967 when he was sentenced to six years in Letterfrack, Industrial School. At the end of June 1970, he was sent home to Kilkenny to start his summer holidays two weeks before the official recess. The young boy complained of terrible piercing headaches, and collapsed at his home. He was admitted to a local hospital but never regained consciousness. He died two days later. His death was, according to the attending doctor, caused by encephalitis.  Those who lived alongside Willie Delaney in Letterfrack didn't believe that their fellow inmate died from natural causes. They remembered that the 13-year-old was knocked unconscious by a blow from a broomstick yielded by a Christian Brother.

As a result of these statements, the body of Willie Delaney was disinterred as part of a police inquiry into allegations of physical and sexual abuse at Letterfrack. The initial post-mortem did not reveal conclusive evidence that the young boy died as a result of alleged head injuries. - The vital legacy of Willie Delaney, by Geraldine Niland Irish Independent 21st April 2001

The case of Willie Delaney is the first time that any Garda inquiry into such allegations at such an institution has resulted in an exhumation in a search for conclusive evidence of foul play. The original cause of death was upheld but the case had the effect of making public the debate around issues of memory creditability and the instrumentalisation of the victim by the media, the church, the state and the survivors.

The role Willy Delaney’s life has played in both the state appropriation of power and the victims search for justice and accountability has been unprecedented in the history of our state.

This project is supported by the Delaney family.

About the artist

For further information on Seamus Nolan click here

About Temple Bar Gallery + Studios

For information on Temple Bar Gallery + Studios (TBG+S) click here

10th President is commissioned by Temple Bar Gallery + Studios with the support of the Arts Council of Ireland and Dublin City Council. It is also part funded under the National Culture Programme marking Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.


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First among the people


Artist Séamus Nolan proposes that a boy who died in state care be made president for a day, writes Richard Fitzpatrick

William Delaney
1 / 2

WILLIAM Delaney was aged 13 when he died, in 1970. He was the son of a tinsmith of no fixed abode, and was sentenced to six years in the notorious St Joseph’s industrial school, Letterfrack, in Galway, in 1967.

In June, 1970, he was knocked unconscious by a blow to the head from an irate Christian Brother wielding a broomstick handle. Delaney spent a few days in the school’s infirmary, before being sent home early for the summer holidays. He had piercing headaches and died two days later. There was no inquest. The doctor said the cause of his death was encephalitis.

In 2001, Delaney’s body was disinterred by the police, but the evidence for foul play was inconclusive. The artist, Séamus Nolan, has asked of President Michael D Higgins that Delaney be president posthumously for a day, to commemorate the victims of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (the Ryan Report). Next Monday, May 20, the fourth anniversary of the publication of the Ryan Report, would be ideal.

President Higgins responded to Nolan’s proposal with a letter. He didn’t commit, being limited in his discretionary powers. “He left the door open,” says Nolan.

Delaney’s sister, who lives in Co Kilkenny, supports Nolan. His exhibition of artefacts, documents, and a film, at Temple Bar Gallery + Studio, commemorates the survivors of institutional abuse and those who died in State care. It’s kind of a fictional presidential campaign. Nolan’s project is in opposition to calls for a monument for these victims.

“The idea of a monument for the survivors is a bit uncomfortable for me — that you could articulate all those ideas in a fixed object, that is permanently placed somewhere, and becomes a totem for something that went wrong,” he says.

“I was trying to imagine how those ideas are still prevalent in our society, where they exist, and how they affect people now — the same sort of class system that resulted in all those kids being put into care, and all those women in the laundries, being abandoned to an unresponsive government. Can we spot them now, as opposed to retrospectively identifying where it went wrong in the past?

“William has been made public,” he says. “His situation has been discussed a lot in the media. He’s one of the only children who has been identified and has been put on the radio and in papers. He’s become a public figure. He became this public figure posthumously. He didn’t have any influence or control over this. It was beyond his control, in the same way that, originally, being placed in care for something very small was beyond his control. He’s been instrumentalised by everybody; in some ways, the project is a way to acknowledge that and to honour him for the role that he has played.”

A presidential campaign is about the candidates’ profiles, and their decisions. “It’s about the public persona, because the office of president is a public office. It’s a perfect symbol. William Delaney, without his personality, without the things that made him who he was, has been presented in the public realm as an icon for the children in care.

“I thought that the best thing might be to start with the most contentious child. He was exhumed; there was no conclusive evidence found. He wasn’t actually in care when he died. His classmates’ eye-witness reports are the only evidence that he was injured while he was in care, which brought up issues of memory and how, 30 years later, people could base a case on memories of children, which has been a huge barrier to survivors breaking through to public consciousness.”

Jim Fitzpatrick, the artist renowned for his distinctive Celtic art designs, has collaborated with Nolan, providing him with the artwork for a new presidential seal, which Nolan has sculpted in bronze. “My father abandoned us when I was five,” says Fitzpatrick. “I grew up on two streets, in Drumcondra and Glasnevin. We grew up with different relatives. My mother was a very powerful woman. Social workers were terrified of her. I still remember the greatest crimes were committed by the ISPCC. That’s where ‘the cruelty man’ came from. There were only two or three fathers in the neighbourhood. All the rest had legged it and taken ‘the English divorce’, going to the UK for work.

“There were all these kids, the runts of the litter, who were the ones who the clergy and paedophiles went after. We called them ‘fairy boys’, very dismissively. We were only kids. It was rampant. Parents just kept their heads down. They didn’t know the complexity of what was going on. I have a huge interest in this subject, going back to that period. So when Seamus approached me about his project, I said, ‘absolutely’.” Fitzpatrick’s presidential seal, for Delaney, is based on a feminised harp, a nod to the women, like his own mother, who have protected children in Ireland.

No prosecutions have resulted from the Ryan Report, despite the unspeakable horrors it catalogues. “The main issue that I’ve found from survivors is the need for their stories to be acknowledged, to help move forward,” says Nolan. “That hasn’t been done. The survivors have been treated as an aside. Social care has been addressed, but it hasn’t incorporated the experience those people had when they went through care. They haven’t been asked to assist in informing best practice. That’s a missing link — how survivors can place themselves within our culture.”

*10th President runs until Saturday, Jun 8, at the Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, 5-9 Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

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Memorial for survivors of institutional abuse at Garden of Remembrance gets planning permission


 It is simply too soon given the ongoing nature of abuse allegations and investigations

A model of the Garden of Remembrance, in Dublin's Parnell Square, showing the proposed 'Journey of Light' memorial to victims of institutional abuse in Ireland

A model of the Garden of Remembrance, in Dublin’s Parnell Square, showing the proposed ‘Journey of Light’ memorial to victims of institutional abuse in Ireland


Planning permission has been granted for a memorial to survivors of institutional abuse at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance, reigniting debate as to whether the move might be premature.

Cllr Mannix Flynn maintains it is simply too soon given the ongoing nature of abuse allegations and investigations, not to mention the wider question surrounding compensation.

Conversely, other survivors insist the monument is not only essential but long overdue.

The €500,000 Journey of Light  memorial, designed by Dublin-based studio Negri and Hennessy & Associates, has been green-lighted by planners at Dublin City Council but will now almost certainly be appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

It will feature a passageway, lit at night with “gently cascading” waterfalls at the rear of Oisin Kelly’s Children of Lir monument, in line with the Irish flag, and with a State apology inscribed at a child’s eye level.

The memorial was recommended in the Ryan report and involved consultation with survivors’ groups.

“It’s inappropriate because it is premature and an awful lot of people who instigated this treatment of children haven’t actually accepted or admitted their responsibility,” said Mr Flynn. “I am not suggesting that we should not have a memorial in the future but at this particular time it isn’t appropriate. There are outstanding issues, including the Magdalene women.”

Mr Flynn, a former resident of industrial schools, also said the monument would reflect negatively on the Garden of Remembrance, which commemorates those who fought and died for Irish freedom.  



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Justice for Magdalenes announces end of political campaign




JFM said it had achieved its objectives
JFM said it had achieved its objectives

Advocacy group Justice for Magdalenes has announced the end of its political campaign.

The group said it had achieved its twin objectives of an official State apology and the establishment of a compensation scheme.

It said members would continue to assist survivors in a personal capacity.

JFM said it had contacted all of the survivors and relatives to inform them of its decision and had published to self-help guides, one for survivors and one for family members. 



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A voice in Britain for Survivors :90million


By on April 27, 2013
Ruairi Quinn

Ruairi Quinn

IRISH Survivors in Britain will have a voice in Ireland for the first time in deciding how a £100million fund should be spent to meet their needs.

Following months of uncertainty about the make-up of the board responsible for distributing the new Residential Institutions Statutory Fund, Ireland’s Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn, revealed that two of its four Survivor members are based in Britain.

“At long last Survivors over here will have a voice,” said Phyllis Morgan, one of the British-based appointees. “Over the last 10 years, we were never getting as much funding as they were getting in Ireland even though we have the same number of Survivors over here.”

Ms Morgan, who has been heavily involved in providing welfare services to Survivors around the country over the past decade, added: “I always felt like we were trying to deliver a service without enough money.”

The Statutory Fund replaces the Redress Board, which was established in 2002, and is only open to the Redress Board’s 15,000 claimants, one third of which were based in Britain. Unlike the Redress Board, a compensation scheme that paid lump sums to Survivors, the Statutory Fund can only award funding to Survivors that will be used to pay for approved welfare services, including health, education and housing services.

The Minister’s appointment of the board, which also includes a chairperson and four non-Survivor members, means that distribution of the €110million (£94million) Statutory Fund can begin.

The Fund’s board met for the first time in March. It served as an introduction between Ms Morgan and Martin Power, a Manchester-based social worker, who are now responsible for representing the interests of thousands of Survivors scattered around Britain.

Ms Morgan told The Irish Post that her first priority is to ensure that the Survivor outreach services run by the London Irish Centre, the Coventry Irish Society and Irish Community Care Manchester receive enough funding to continue operating.

The Dubliner added that she hopes the board can agree to fund new programmes in Britain. “I am sure there are lots of Irish Survivors in Liverpool, for example, and they are completely not getting a service” she said.

Simon McCarthy, whose Survivor outreach programme in Coventry supports 450 people, welcomed the appointment of Ms Morgan and the creation of the Fund after an eight-month wait. But he said he does not know whether his service, which has been funded directly by Ireland’s Department of Education on a quarterly basis since early 2012, will be eligible for funding from the Fund.

“The thing is that I cannot see why they would fund a project like ours because people will get really upset if they do not fund it because we have built up such a strong relationship between everyone in the group,” he said. “It is like a big family and they want stuff to continue.”

Mr McCarthy added that he expects his team to be “busier than ever” in the coming weeks as Survivors enquire about whether or not they are eligible for a grant from the Fund.

Ann Bohan, who runs the Manchester programme, was surprised by the announcement of the board and says her service’s funding will expire at the end of March.

“But I would not say we are in limbo because this has been coming for a long time,” she added. “And we have not been told that we will lose our funding.”

Leading campaigner Sally Mulready, who runs the Irish Women’s Survivors Network, called on the leaders of Irish welfare organisations around the country to find out how they can apply for a grant from the Fund to offer support to the Survivors in their area.

“This is not about funding Coventry, or London or Manchester. They are three small outreach services that could not possibly hope to service the 5,000 people who are eligible to apply,” she said. “This is about starting to engage the Irish community across the board so that every Irish welfare agency is involved in helping Survivors.”

Ms Mulready added that the existing organisations will need to make themselves “more relevant” to the Fund to ensure that it is within the remit of the Fund to support what they offer.

Announcing the appointment of the Statutory Fund’s board, Minister Quinn said: ““The establishment of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board represents a critically important step in responding to the needs of those who were subjected to horrendous abuse while children in residential institutions.”

He added: “While the tasks facing the Fund are significant, I am confident that it will make a meaningful contribution to the wellbeing of the survivors of institutional abuse.”

Mr Quinn also revealed that Mary Higgins, who has previously worked with Survivors in Britain, will be the chief executive of the Fund’s board. 

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Irish man recounts horrors of six years of servitude


Westmeath man kept captive by Irish Travellers in UK

George Boland  photographed in Dublin while on tour with the Irish Elderly Advice Network as  part of The Gathering. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

George Boland photographed in Dublin while on tour with the Irish Elderly Advice Network as part of The Gathering. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

George Boland sat in his hotel off Dublin’s O’Connell Street yesterday and savoured a pint of Guinness. After six years kept captive by a group of Irish Travellers in Britain and forced to work for no wages, he never thought he’d see Ireland again.

Instead, he was back with a group of more than 30 older Irish emigrants, looking forward to see Dublin’s attractions as part of The Gathering.

Originally from Kinnegad, Co Westmeath, he is now a volunteer with Irish Elderly Advice Network at the London Irish Centre in Camden Square, which organised the trip. He says the network saved him after two men from Lithuania and the Netherlands helped him to escape in 2011.

While some Travellers have been jailed for keeping people captive and making them work for free, Mr Boland said the group that kept him had not been brought to justice. “I had a very bad experience,” the 65-year-old recalled. “I never saw a penny of wages in six years.”

It all started when a van pulled up alongside him in London one morning in 2005 and asked if he was looking for work. “I was, so I got in,” he said. “But they drove 180 miles to Gloucester. I had left everything I owned behind me. I had no money to get away from them.”

He said he worked seven days a week for the gang “cutting hedges, cutting grass, sowing daffodil bulbs. I planted thousands of daffodils”.

He lived in a caravan that was so cold the water in the kettle was often frozen solid during the winter. Seven or eight people were kept captive, mostly from eastern Europe. He was the only Irish man.

He finally escaped in 2011 and was living on the street when someone told him about the Irish Elderly Advice Network. “I remember the day he walked into us. He was like someone that had walked from Belsen,” recalled Sally Mulready, network co-ordinator.

But thanks to help from Margaret Geiger and colleagues from the network, Mr Boland said he was never happier than he is today. “I’m getting my pension credits. I have a nice little bedsit with my television, my phone, my fridge and my shower. I was never as well off as I am now. And this is my first pint of Guinness since last October. It’s very nice too.”



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Bethany - The home the State forgot




Bethany - The home the State forgot

Tanya Sillem blogs ahead of tonight's programme from RTÉ's Investigations Unit:

135 children died in less than 10 years while in the care of the Bethany Home in Dublin, in the middle of the last century. Bethany was a protestant run Mother and Baby home. Many of the children who died there are buried in unmarked graves in Dublin’s Mount Jerome Cemetery. Seventy-two year old Derek Leinster was born in Bethany just as the death rate peaked. State Inspectors found neglect, and babies dying from diseases linked to malnutrition. Derek believes it was only a long stretch in Cork Street Isolation Hospital that saved him. His records show he had whooping cough, diphtheria, and gastroenteritis.

In February Derek and other survivors of Bethany heard the Taoiseach’s apology to the Magdalenes, and asked why they are still waiting for the state to recognise them. In 2002 the state set up a redress scheme for victims of child abuse in residential institutions. In common with the Magdalene laundries, survivors of Bethany never made it onto the scheme. Tonight’s Prime Time shows that even though the state recognised the home had operated under its ‘jurisdiction’, it didn’t accept there was sufficient evidence of state regulation or inspection. By the time that evidence surfaced, Bethany had been ruled out on the grounds it was the ‘wrong’ type of institution, and as a Mother & Baby home wouldn’t qualify for the redress scheme.

In the meantime, Catholic Religious orders had signed an indemnity agreement with the state. Bethany was run by Protestant Trustees before it closed in 1970, and wasn’t part of the deal. Being part of the indemnity agreement meant that in return for a contribution to the redress scheme, the state paid all child abuse claims against institutions named in the Redress Act. It was in the interests of the religious orders to make sure that as many of their institutions as possible were named, or added to the Act. As the programme shows, two orders lobbied the Department of Education and in 2004 a Mother and Baby home was among the institutions added to the Redress Act .

In recent months the Department of Justice has indicated that the case of Bethany is under consideration.

Tanya Sillem

Prime Time, RTÉ 1, 21:35 



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Remember this posting by Alliance?

Meeting in Government Buildings
Apr 21st, 2010 at 5:34pm
Quote | Modify | Remove 
In summery   It was a difficult meeting because of the expectations among some groups that there would be a great deal more money for compensation and they had told their members of this.

The Taoiseach was very patient with everybody and gave time to listen and take in all that was said.  None the less I believe that though only three representatives agreed to the establishing of a trust fund by the government and everyone else were clearly against the idea,  the Government will plough ahead regardless of survivor’s opinions and set up such a fund.   Let us all wait and see who is right?            
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