Former Christian Brother gets suspended sentence for indecent assault on pupil
September 27, 2013
by Mike Dwane
A FORMER Christian Brother who worked at Sexton Street in the late 1960s would fondle young boys as he taught the rest of the class, Limerick Circuit Court has heard.
Sean Drummond, 65, of Broadford Drive, Ballinteer, Dublin 16, pleaded guilty to two sample counts of indecent assault against a 10-year-old pupil at the primary school during the year 1968-69.
The victim, who went on to work as a teacher himself, described in an impact statement how his relationships had suffered and how he had tried to take his own life at the age of 21 as a result of sexual abuse he suffered while at Sexton Street.
The events had “stayed with me all my life” and “I have never forgotten his [Drummond’s]name or face”.
Prosecuting counsel John O’Sullivan BL said Drummond would bring pupils to school on a Saturday – for what purpose the victim no longer remembered – and would place his victim’s hand on his erect penis under his soutane but over his clothing.
The victim described how the former Christian brother would sit on the pupil’s desk and turn him around to face his classmates. He would touch the victim around the torso and pull him back towards him against what he now understood was Drummond’s erect penis. Drummond would continue to teach the class while this was happening, the victim told gardai. The victim also described instances where Drummond would call him to the teacher’s desk at the front of the class and fondle his private parts, again over his clothing. This would be done while the rest of the class was doing school work.
Br Drummond, as the accused was then known, was “somebody capable of administering corporal punishment of a severe nature” and “on other occasions fondling in a sexual way”, something which had confused his young victim, said Mr O’Sullivan.
Drummond was sentenced to two years in prison in December 2009 for 36 counts of indecent assault against 18 boys at Creagh Lane National School on Bridge Street, another school run by the Christian Brothers in Limerick city. These offences had occurred in 1967-68 at a time when Drummond himself was not out of his teens, his barrister Anthony Sammon SC noted.
Drummond had left Limerick is February 1970 and left the religious order a month later. He had gone on to work at a library in UCD. He had married and had five grown-up children.
Mr Sammon said in respect of Sexton Street offences that the injured party had only made a complaint after Drummond had been sentenced to two years in prison for the events at Creagh Lane, a case which the barrister noted had attracted considerable publicity. He had come out of prison only to discover another prosecution against him “was in train”.
Drummond, Mr O’Sullivan noted, had told gardai he did not know the victim and “emphatically denied indecent assault”.
The accused had changed his plea to guilty this Wednesday only after a jury had been sworn in the previous day. But Mr O’Sullivan had acknowledged this plea had been helpful to the prosecution given deficiencies in documentary evidence. Records showing that Drummond had not begun teaching at Sexton Street until the year after the abuse took place squared with the accused’s version of events to gardai.
Mr Sammon said his client had begun his formation to be a Christian brother at the age of 14 and had thus entered an environment where “the suppression of sexuality” was commonplace. “Not convinced of his vocation”, Mr Sammon added, Drummond had left the order at 22.
The barrister appealed to Judge Carroll Moran not to again jail somebody who had already served a sentence “for a similar type of offending” at Creagh Lane a year earlier.
Judge Moran said the victim impact statement had set out “devastating and traumatic circumstances arising from the abuse” and that Drummond had abused his position of trust.
“The abuse of children was not uncommon in Ireland 40 years ago and more but is now rightly regarded as a horror and a prison sentence, even on a plea of guilty, is the usual outcome even for events which happened so long ago,” the judge said.
But he agreed with Mr Sammon that he had to consider that Drummond had already served a sentence for similar offences that occurred in close proximity in time.
He also noted a report that described Drummond as being at a low risk of reoffending and the importance of the plea as acknowledged by the prosecution.
Drummond was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, and is to remain on the sex offenders register for the next five years.
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An Bord Plean hearing on abuse memorial opens
September 26, 2013
Journey of Light memorial planned for Garden of Remembrance
The €500,000 Journey of Light memorial, designed by Dublin-based Studio Negri and Hennessy & Associates, features a covered passageway, lit at night and flanked by fossilised limestone walls and waterfalls. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
The memorial to victims of institutional abuse proposed for the Garden of Remembrance on Dublin’s Parnell Square will be a place to “mourn the pain” of victims, a Bord Pleanála hearing has been told.
The application by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to build the memorial was approved by Dublin City Council last May despite several objections including one from an abuse survivors’ support group. The decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála.
Speaking on behalf of the OPW Bernadette Fahy, a former resident of Goldenbridge Industrial School who was on the committee which chose the memorial, said a number of abuse survivors who had opposed the idea of the memorial had become “extremely positive” about the design chosen.
The creation of the monument would ensure “the pain and suffering of children being memorialised should ever happen again,” Ms Fahy told the appeal hearing.
The €500,000 Journey of Light memorial, designed by Dublin-based studio Negri and Hennessy & Associates, features a covered passageway, lit at night and flanked by fossilised limestone walls and waterfalls. It would be inserted to the rear of Oisín Kelly’s Children of Lir monument commemorating the 1916 Rising, and would be in line with the Irish flag, with the State apology to abuse victims inscribed at child’s eye level.
The proposal also provides for a gated opening in the railings along Parnell Square West to access the memorial and new service access gates to Parnell Square North on a 2,140 sq m site.
Designer Andre Negri told the hearing the choice of location next to the 1916 monument was “an ethical and poignant link to the sacred ground of the State and a constant reminder that the abuse of our children must never happen again.”
The hearing is scheduled to last two days and will later hear from those opposing the siting of the memorial in the square, including former industrial school resident, Independent city councillor Mannix Flynn.
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Garden of Remembrance child abuse memorial "demeaning"
September 26, 2013
Abuse memorial should not be linked to 1916 monument - Maureen O’Sullivan
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
Building a memorial to victims of institutional abuse at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin’s Parnell Square would be “demeaning” to abuse survivors Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan has said.
Ms O’Sullivan was speaking at a Bord Pleanála appeal hearing against the decision by Dublin City Council to give permission to the Office of Public Works for the memorial beside Oisín Kelly’s Children of Lir monument commemorating the 1916 Rising. It was “totally inappropriate” that there would be any interference with the 1916 monument, Ms O’Sullivan said.
The monument was proving “divisive and stressful” for survivors, she added.
“It is demeaning to the survivors not to give them their own space but to ask them to share with a memorial that is celebratory. And it is demeaning to those who fought for the principles of democracy, our independence, to ask them to share with this dark chapter of abuse.”
The Journey of Light was chosen in July last year as the memorial for abuse victims by a committee set up by the Department of Education following the recommendation of the Ryan Report. If it secures planning permission it is expected to take two years to build.
Maeve O’Rourke (right) with Claire McGettrick and Katherine O’Donnell.
A BRITISH-based barrister who as a law student helped lead the Justice for Magdalene campaign has been honoured for her work.
Maeve O’Rourke, originally from Dublin but now living in London, has won the Family Law Awards 2013 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year.
The award is to highlight the importance of pro bono work at a time when legal aid funding is being cut.
Maeve, who was called to the bar last year, represented the victims of the Magdalene Laundries where girls and women were incarcerated and forced into unpaid labour in their thousands from 1922 to 1996.
While still a student, and as the only lawyer of the voluntary advocacy group Justice for Magdalenes, Maeve brought the case before the Irish Human Rights Commission in 2010 and UN Committee against Torture and UN Human Rights Council in 2011.
“It was a huge shock to win but I’m delighted that Justice for Magdalenes has been recognised as such an important cause,” said Maeve, who is the daughter of RTÉ broadcaster Sean O’Rourke.
“It feels strange to accept an award when there are so many people who worked so tirelessly for so long on this campaign. But it’s always great to keep the spotlight on the issue.”
As part of her submissions to the UN on the international and domestic legal obligations of the Irish state to investigate and provide compensation, Maeve spoke to and collected the testimony of many Magdalene Laundry women in Britain.
But despite an apology from the Irish Government in February, she says there is still more to be done.
“The campaign is not completely over,” the 26-year-old said. “There are issues with compensation still to be ironed out. For example, in the UK will the Irish Government ensure medical support is available as it will be to those living in Ireland?”
Maeve has written a follow up report to the UN Committee against Torture since the apology.
Her pro bono work throughout the year has also included assisting Justice for Magdalenes in drafting parliamentary questions, while corresponding with Government and the President of the Law Reform Commission regarding the compensation process.
“Personally I will continue to work with the UN Treaty bodies and NGOs in Ireland reporting to those bodies,” she told The Irish Post. “We will have the Holy See in early 2014 where the rights of the child will be discussed.
Maeve, who is a pupil at 4 Paper Buildings, added: “It will bring issues of concern to the fore. There’s been no explanation or examination into what happened in the Magdalene Laundries, no one has given conclusions as to the extent of the human rights abuse suffered.”
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Mass and Reunion
September 17, 2013
St. Joseph’s Christian Brothers Industrial School
Glin, Co. Limerick.
The Mass for St. Joseph’s Christian Brothers’ Industrial School Past Pupils will now take place in Raheen Parish Church Limerick at 3.30 sharp on Saturday 19th October 2013 and afterwards the Reunion will take place in The South Court Hotel Limerick a short walk away.
Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on 02838 871708 (RoI) 04838871707. Any past pupils with any photographs or any memorabilia from school should bring them along.
There will be copies of photographs on display, all numbered so people can leave their names and addresses should they wish to have copies sent to them.
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Priest to challenge refusal to register him as a teacher
September 17, 2013
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
A schoolteacher priest, said to be penniless since his pay was cut off by the minister for education, has been granted leave to legally challenge the Teaching Council’s decision not to register him as a teacher.
By Ray Managh and Aodhán Ó Faoláin
Fr Tommy Conroy, who was cleared by his school board of allegations of having sexually abused a student, has already been granted leave by the High Court to challenge the minister’s decision to refuse to pay him.
Fr Conroy, of Clonamona, Dranford, Gorey, Co Wexford, had been put on administrative leave with pay pending a thorough school board inquiry. Despite his name having been cleared, the minister refused to pay him and the school refused to re-employ him on the basis he had allowed his teacher registration, albeit inadvertently, to lapse.
Oliver Costello, counsel for Fr Conroy, told the High Court he had not been paid since the end of May.
His solicitor, Ken Smyth, told Mr Justice Michael Moriarty yesterday that the Teaching Council had acted beyond its powers in refusing to register Fr Conroy as a teacher and had relied on a code of professional conduct that had no statutory application or relevance to Fr Conroy’s application.
Mr Smyth said he had represented Fr Conroy at an internal review hearing and was surprised by the attendance of about 15 people from the Teaching Council’s side, leaving it unclear as to whom among them constituted the review panel.
Fr Conroy had earlier told the court that, following a full investigation by the board of management of Gorey Community School, where he had worked, the board decided in Oct 2012 that he had not engaged in sexual impropriety with the student and no disciplinary action had been taken or was proposed against him.
He had remained on leave with pay and had agreed to a request from the board to undergo a risk assessment which he had completed.
Judge Moriarty granted Fr Conroy leave to seek by way of judicial review an order quashing the Teaching Council’s decision and a permanent injunction requiring the council to register him. Fr Conroy is also seeking damages. The matter was returned to Oct 10.
Fr Iggy Donovan attacks extreme elements in Church
September 16, 2013
Fr Iggy O’Donovan attacks ‘extreme elements’ in Church
Monday, September 16, 2013
An outspoken priest has hit out at intolerant and extreme right-wingers in the Church and questioned why priests like Fr Tony Flannery were being “persecuted with a zeal that is as pathological as the paranoia that feeds it”.
By Elaine Keogh
Fr Iggy O’Donovan was paying tribute to Fr Flannery, a Redemptorist priest who was silenced by the Catholic hierarchy in Rome last year after airing his views over women priests, contraception, and clerical celibacy, at his own final Mass before he begins a “sabbatical”.
Close to 1,500 people, including members of the Muslim and Baha’i faiths, attended the service at the Augustinian Church in Drogheda yesterday where they also heard town mayor Richie Culhane claim that “ultra-conservative” elements had forced the Augustinians to “push” Fr Iggy out of Drogheda.
While Fr Iggy has denied reports he had been silenced by the Church, many see the decision to move him from Drogheda to Limerick, where he will be on sabbatical, as a response to complaints about his liturgy.
Fr Iggy yesterday said he could not leave the town without making reference to Fr Flannery, whom he described as “a distinguished colleague of mine in the priesthood”.
“If I had not been made aware first hand of the details of his case, I could not have given it credence. Even hardened veterans are shaken by the murkiness of the devious world of ecclesiastical politics.”
Fr Iggy asked: “How has it come to this, that a great and good priest like Tony, who has dedicated his life to the preaching of the Gospel, is persecuted with a zeal that is as pathological as the paranoia that feeds it?
“How has it come to this, that intolerant and extreme right-wingers — encouraged, apparently, by certain authorities and career-oriented priests — can meet in solemn conclave to determine who is guilty of what these people label heresy?
“How has it come to this, that sincere, thinking Catholics are walking away from our Church believing that the battle for sane Catholicism is lost?”
Fr Iggy told the congregation: “I still believe and am strongly of the conviction that Catholicism is compatible with modern culture.”
He added that he “deeply” welcomes the arrival of Pope Francis.
At the end of the Mass, Mr Culhane addressed the congregation told Fr Iggy: “I hope and pray to God that you are never silenced.”
Fr Iggy O’Donovan is no stranger to causing controversy within the Catholic Church.
In 2006, he was heavily criticised by senior figures after he issued an invitation to Church of Ireland minister Michael Graham to join him and other Catholic priests in an Easter Mass at his order’s priory in Drogheda, Co Louth.
In 2008, Fr O’Donovan rounded on the Vatican for its condemnation of the Harry Potter books.
In 2010, he described as “a millstone around our necks” the fact that women were not ordained to the priesthood.
We could not accept that these words could be conceived as objectionable
September 14, 2013
Why we cancelled all our weekend activities planned for Glin and now moved to Limerick City
Details to follow - 19th October 2013 Remains same.
Proposed Lettering on the Glin Monument
Erected by the Boys of St. Joseph’s Christian Brothers’ Industrial School
Glin, Co. Limerick.
1928 – 1966
"Thousands of victims of industrial schools bear witness to a society unwilling to question its own comfortable certainties out of a fear that those beliefs might turn out to have been built on sand.”
The congregation is deeply sorry for the hurt we have caused.
Email from Gin Development Association 6th September 2013
Hope you are well. Further to our meeting on Wed. 28th of Oct. at Clover Field a meeting of Glin Dev. Assoc. was held last night Thurs 5th of Sept. The proposed changes to the monument : the addition of the words 'Christian Brothers' and the reduction of the height of the plaque was discussed at length. Unfortunately the committee would not agree to these changes but suggested the following recommendations for your approval.
1. That the top piece of the plaque 'erected by the boys------' would be the only piece standing above ground.
2. The apology from the Christian Brothers would be inserted in the ground in front of the plaque.
3. The qoutation by Mary Raftery to be omitted and maybe to be erected some place else.
Hopefully these recommendation will be agreeable to all.
Justice for Magdalenes. Pictured from right: Maeve O’Rourke, Katherine O’Donnell and Claire McGettrick.
THE POINT-BLANK refusal of nuns to compensate women incarcerated in the Magdalene Laundries cannot be the final word on the matter, survivors campaigner Sally Mulready has said.
It has emerged that all four of the religious congregations that ran the brutal Laundries have rejected personal appeals from Ireland’s Justice Minister to make a financial contribution to the Irish Government’s £50m redress scheme.
The news has been met with shock and outrage by Magdalene survivors, thousands of whom are estimated to have fled to Britain.
Some have called on Church-goers to boycott Mass and others have demanded that the Irish Government strips the congregations of their State funding.
“I am very disappointed that the nuns will not make a contribution, incensed really,” Ms Mulready told The Irish Post.“This sends out a very awful message to women who suffered and it cannot be the final word.
“It is really important that the nuns make a contribution to the scheme. They have to at least make a gesture.”
Ms Mulready, who led the campaign for justice for Magdalene survivors in Britain, added that the congregations’ decision “is not a rejection of the State. It is a rejection of the Magdalene Laundry women and it is a rejection of their experiences.”
Her comments were backed up by fellow campaigner and Magdalene survivor Phyllis Morgan, who said: “I think this is dreadful. I cannot believe they are not going to do something towards this fund. I thought they would have done the decent thing.”
Ms Morgan added that in personal meetings she has had with members of the congregations involved, they have said they do not feel like it is their responsibility to compensate survivors.
“Some of the nuns are saying ‘we are not the abusers, so why should we pay for the sins of our sisters’,” she said. “That is the way they are looking at it. I have had meetings with the nuns — quite fruitful meetings — but I always heard them saying that they are not the abusers.”
When contacted by The Irish Post, each of the four congregations — the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, the Good Shepherd Sisters, the Religious Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity — declined to comment on why they will not be contributing to the redress fund.
The scheme will see Magdalene Survivors awarded between €11,500 and €100,000, depending on how long they spent in a Laundry.
Speaking in the Dáil this week, Justice Minister Alan Shatter described the congregations’ decision as “very disappointing”.
“It is my view that the congregations have a moral obligation to make a reasonable contribution to the fund required under the scheme and that view is shared by my Cabinet colleagues,” he said.
“It is a view I believe that will be shared by a majority of people outside this House.
“I hope that all four congregations will further reflect on the response we have received from them and will again consider making a contribution to the fund and reducing the burden imposed on taxpayers throughout the State.”
The Minister added that the orders will co-operate fully in helping women access the records of their time in a Laundry, which is needed to apply to the restorative justice scheme announced last month.
They will also continue to care for more than 100 elderly Magdalene women who remain in their care.
Responding to criticism from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams about the Government’s acceptance of the orders’ decision, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he has no intention of taking legal action against the orders and could not take away their charitable status.
Ms Mulready described criticism of the Government as “complete nonsense” and “totally unfair”, saying: “In 27 months this Coalition Government did what the previous Government would not do in 14 years.
“The focus for me is not on the Government, the Government has done its bit. The focus is on those nuns. The issue here is that the nuns have a moral duty to make a contribution.”
Ms Mulready added that she now plans to meet with the British-based Magdalene women to discuss what they will do next and will be writing to the congregations personally.
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September 8, 2013
“What Ireland shares with many societies around the world is a dangerous reality: once a group of people is isolated as being in some way inferior, the general population becomes less concerned with how they are treated, even in the face of evidence of cruelty and abuse. In Ireland's case, the thousands of victims of industrial schools bear witness to a society unwilling to question its own comfortable certainties out of a fear that those beliefs might turn out to have been built on sand.”
In July, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn secured Cabinet approval to continue to pursue a 50/50 sharing of the costs of the redress process between the State and the 18 orders named in the Ryan Report.
However, speaking to RTÉ, Mr Quinn admitted the congregations continue to argue against a 50/50 split with the State in terms of compensating victims of residential abuse.
Asked where the Government was in terms of getting movement on this with the orders, Mr Quinn said “nowhere”. He also suggested that, in the absence of congregations contributing, the taxpayer would have to make up the shortfall of over €200m.
“They won’t accept the principle of 50/50,” he said. “They’ve paid out some money, they’ve come back with a certain amount. They’re shy about €200m and if I had that my problems would be solved.”
Without the orders contributing a 50% share, “everything has to be put on the table” in terms of making up this shortfall, said Mr Quinn.
“We’ve spent €1.4bn, we the taxpayers, on redress,” he said. “The original deal that was an outrageous deal with Michael Woods and Bertie Ahern. I have tried to get the religious congregations to accept, along with us, the State, that 50/50 portion.”
The final costs of the redress scheme for residential abuse is expected to reach €1.46bn.
To date, the combination of all contributions offered by the religious congregations, both under the 2002 Indemnity Agreement and subsequent to the Ryan Report, amounts to €480m — a shortfall of €250m on the target 50% share.
However, just €175m of the €480m committed in 2009 has been paid over.
Department of Education memos revealed that much of the €480m committed by the congregations was based on unrealistic property values.
Many of the properties offered by the orders were not considered useful to the State or agencies such as the HSE. Others did not have a clean title.
Twelve years after the indemnity deal was signed, legal discussions remain unresolved in relation to 20 properties that were offered to the State as part of the original €127m package in 2002.
Inadequate legal system adding to pain of abuse victims
September 3, 2013
‘I’ve lost my business, my marriage, and now my home would be in jeopardy’
Ireland’s legal system continues to frustrate people in search of justice for abuse they suffered as children. Photograph: Reuters
Despite many years of breast-beating by this State over its role in aiding and abetting the abuse of women and children in residential institutions, Ireland’s legal system continues to frustrate such people in their pursuit of justice.
An example was reported in this newspaper last Wednesday. Seven women in Dublin have failed in their strenuous attempts to bring to court a man who allegedly sexually abused them, and others, as children in the 1970s.
The weight of evidence alone, as presented in corraborated statements to gardaí, inspired confidence that their alleged abuser would face charges. The DPP decided otherwise. Of course, no explanation was forthcoming.
Two of the women then considered taking a civil action, but found the cost implications terrifying. As one said: “I’ve lost my business, my marriage, and now my home would be in jeopardy.” She felt “devastated” letting go of the case.
A person with similar experience of such compound injustice is “James”. In January 2012, at Dublin’s High Court, his senior counsel told him that his adversaries, the Christian Brothers, intended fighting his allegations of abuse against two deceased members, “tooth and nail”, on legal and technical grounds.
James’s counsel advised that, if he lost, costs could be €80,000 - €100,000 and that it was possible the Brothers could win on legal/technical grounds. James decided “to walk away”. He estimated that to date the case had cost him more than €100,000.
Contacted by this newspaper, a spokesperson for the Brothers said it was not their policy “to comment on individual cases and particularly so in this case, which has been dealt with and concluded within the courts system”.
Middle-aged now, James alleged his physical and sexual abuse took place at a Christian Brothers’ school in Dublin when he was aged between 11 and 14. Three psychiatrists prepared four reports on him for the High Court case that did not happen.
In December 2008, psychiatrist Dr Michael Corry of Clane General Hospital said James suffered from “an unresolved post traumatic stress disorder complicated by an overwhelming sense of grief from what he has lost out on... [His] experiences of the abuse are deeply imprinted into his intellectual, emotional and behavioural world…”
That July the late Dr Louis O’Carroll, retired consultant psychiatrist at St Ita’s in Portrane, prepared a report. James “suffered profound and pervasive psycho-emotional distress throughout the course of his life, arising from his experiences of severe sexual and physical abuse in childhood”. In a January 2012 report, Dr O’Carroll said the “clinical impression was of a very credible individual who is continuing to suffer severe psycho-emotional distress and impairment of his quality of life…”
A third psychiatrist differed. Dr John Sheehan of the department of adult psychiatry at Dublin’s Mater hospital was employed by solicitors for the Christian Brothers. His report, dated September 2011, said James showed “no evidence of a current mental disorder. His career progression is not consistent with him suffering from a mental disorder such as a post traumatic stress disorder. I think it likely that he will conclude his counselling once the litigation has finished.”
Following that failed High Court visit last year, James contacted his local TD who wrote to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. Mr Shatter replied on November 11th last, noting that recent amendments surrounding statute of limitations legislation were “specifically intended to improve access to redress for victims of child sexual abuse wishing to make a personal injuries claim”.
It remains the case, however, that as things stand in these cases, our legal system is simply adding misery to misery.
Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent.
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Dame Judi Dench: I would not forgive Catholic Church if they took away my child
September 1, 2013
Dame Judi Dench, whose new film is about a woman trying to find her son after being forced by a convent to give him up for adoption, has said she would not be able to forgive the Catholic Church if they had taken away her child.
The 78-year-old actress, who has a 40-year-old daughter with her late husband Michael Williams, described her own faith as "the antithesis of Catholicism".Photo: DAVID AZIA/AP
Philomena, which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday, tells the true story of Philomena Lee, an Irish woman from Roscrea, County Tipperary, who went in search of her son Anthony in 2004 after 50 years. She was helped by Martin Sixsmith, the journalist and former Labour spin doctor, from whose book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee the film has been adapted.
"I can only say that I can't imagine myself being in that position and being able to forgive," said Dame Judi at the Palazzo del Casinò on the Venice Lido. "I don't have the scope of humanity that Philomena has. It would be wonderful to say that yes, if that happened to me, I would be able to do that, but I can't imagine I would."
The 78-year-old actress, a practising Quaker who has a 40-year-old daughter, Finty, with her late husband Michael Williams, described her own faith as "the antithesis of Catholicism", and compared the film to The Magdalene Sisters, a 2002 drama written and directed by Peter Mullan about Catholic-run homes for 'fallen women'.
"After The Magdalene Sisters, attention was drawn to everything," she said. "We are telling a particular story of one person, and while I have no personal knowledge of anyone who was in this situation, I know that many people were.
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