– Spiritan Religious Order confirms 57 people have reported they were abused on Blackrock College campus
– Over €5 million paid by Order since 2004
– First survivors of abuse on Blackrock College Campus publicly tell their story to RTÉ Radio 1’s Documentary On One
First broadcast – RTÉ Radio 1, Monday 7th November, 6pm
Available on all podcast platforms and on rte.ie/podcasts from 6pm
From the ages of 12 to 17, two brothers were repeatedly sexually abused both in and on the grounds of Blackrock College in South County Dublin. Their abusers were from the community of the Holy Ghost Order, now known as Spiritans, at Blackrock College. Several court cases ensued as they fought for justice. Now grown men, they tell their story for the first time in a special RTÉ Documentary on One, to be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 at 6.00pm on Monday 7th November, breaking the national radio schedule for the final hour of Drivetime. The two men named publicly in the documentary are the first people to openly speak about abuse at Blackrock College.
The number of children who were sexually abused on the grounds of Blackrock College is unknown. Responding to questions from the RTÉ Documentary on One, Fr Martin Kelly, the current Provincial of the Spiritans, stated:
- Spiritan records now indicate that 233 people have made allegations of abuse against 77
- Irish Spiritans in ministries throughout Ireland and overseas.
- In relation to Blackrock College, 57 people have alleged they were abused on the Blackrock campus.
- The Spiritans have made multiple monetary contributions to people who have 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, amounts to over €5 million.
- The Spiritans have made settlements with 12 individuals relating to abuse at Blackrock.
- All settlements have been funded from Spiritan congregation resources.
- 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. This practice arose in circumstances where members did not have the personal money to do so.
During the 1970s and early 1980s two brothers were repeatedly abused at various locations on the grounds of Blackrock College, including in the college library, swimming pools, and other buildings.
In September 1973, the older brother began his secondary education at Blackrock College. 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 father / Spiritan. 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. Throughout his abuse, the boy never told anyone.
The second brother was 12, when he first began to be invited by the same priest to swimming sessions on the grounds of Blackrock College and over the next number of years he too was repeatedly sexually abused.
For many years neither brother spoke of their abuse, until early 2002 when clerical child sex abuse filled the news headlines. This led the brothers to reveal their abuse, first to their parents, and then to one another. They made statements to An Garda Síochána which led to multiple charges being brought against their abuser.
By then the Spiritan priest was 82 years old and still living on the grounds of Blackrock College. He denied the charges made against him and launched a legal case, seeking to halt criminal proceedings.
In 2007, the courts decided that the criminal case against the brothers’ abuser should be halted. The Spiritan 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 went undetected and unchecked, giving them unmonitored access to children during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
The survivors featured in tonight’s RTÉ Documentary on One are the first people to openly speak about the child sex abuse they suffered at Blackrock College.