By John Cooney Religion Correspondent

Monday February 21 2011

VICTIMS of paedophile clerics made their presence felt yesterday at a forgiveness service in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral where two senior Catholic Church clergymen washed the feet of eight victims.

Boston-based Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin — in “an act of humble service” — washed the feet of “a representative group” of those affected by the sexual abuse of priests. The group included prominent victims Marie Collins and Christine Buckley.

On behalf of the Pope who asked him to conduct an external probe into the scandal-ridden Archdiocese of Dublin, Cardinal O’Malley asked for forgiveness for the horrendous abuse cases catalogued in the Murphy Report, and for the systematic cover-up by church authorities.

But the one hour-and-40-minute service was interrupted twice by two victims who walked on to the altar and spoke of their failure to receive justice.

Both men were allowed to have their say by Archbishop Martin, and their contributions were applauded by the congregation.

Robert Dempsey, who said he was speaking for all victims, spoke of how he was placed in a mental institution when he was only three, and later of how he was raped by a cleric in another institution when he was 15.

Claiming that a court case that he had taken to obtain justice had been stalled for 10 years, Mr Dempsey handed Archbishop Martin a file of legal documents and urged him to use his influence with the judiciary to have his case heard and settled.


The second intervention came from Christopher Heaphy, who spoke of receiving “the lash and the whip” when he was aged five as a resident of Greenmount, run by the Presentation Brothers in Co Cork.

Speaking later, Mr Heaphy said that victims, many now elderly, still wanted justice and compensation, which he claimed had not been given by the hierarchy and religious orders.

A third victim, Paddy Doyle, a disability activist, approached the precincts of the sanctuary, before directing his wheelchair out a side exit. Referring to the presence of two gardai, Mr Doyle said: “Cardinal O’Malley is the most protected man in the building.”

But Ms Collins said she was pleased to have taken part in the service as one of those who selected and contributed to the prayers.

“It was a clear and definite expression of repentance by Archbishop Martin on behalf of the Dublin archdiocese,” said Ms Collins.

In his address, Archbishop Martin said that the service was only the first step toward healing, and warned against an attitude of “now we can get back to normal”.

“The archdiocese of Dublin will never be the same again,” said Archbishop Martin.

Unnoticed among the congregation was Cardinal Desmond Connell, the former Archbishop of Dublin, whose 16-year reign from 1988 to 2004 was “devastated” by the abuse scandals.

– John Cooney Religion Correspondent

Irish Independent


19 Responses to “Bishops wash feet of abuse victims in bid for forgiveness”

  1. Mammy 2,7 says:

    Thats just what Mrs buckley has been doing defending the guilty from the start and has got rich on it .

  2. Sandie Smith says:

    Funny how the church sees fit to view ‘crimes’ as ‘sins’, all correctable by some holy other-wordly sleight of hand gestures.
    That is until, of course, they’re threatened with a bit of legal action for said crimes, and in a heartbeat ‘spiritual reconciliation’ is duly kicked aside and what do you know ‘the lawyers’ are called in.
    Is as if suddenly, they realise ‘god’ can’t save their bottoms after all.
    I’ve read a few books on these subjects, as I have a fierce passion for kids deserving the rights we demand by default as adults. It just makes sense to me.
    My interest also leans to the fact that someone close to me could have been brought up in some hellish institution or other had it not been for his luck in being adopted by a good family.
    I doubt there will ever be proper justice here, unless the people who do believe in ‘the goodness of god’ denounce these people as a corrupting menace to their faith.
    Sadly however, I feel their lack of concern there is doing more to defend the guilty than any amount of counter-lawsuits ever could.

  3. Mammy 2,7 says:

    I don’t want counselling ,I want to be compansated ,how come the so called counsellor a close friend of christine West(Mrs Buckley) at the aislinn has held onto old photos for the last god knows how many years and has made NO effort to copy them and distrebute them to the survivors of Goldenbridge during the 50’s,who are in those photos. when she is not in any of those photos nor was she there in the 1950s,some it because only one or two survivors from the 1950s Goldenbridge are known to them the rest are either Dead or living in other countries out of ireland and are not and never have been represented by any one ,weather it be groups or services. being able to see a photo of ourselves when we were a child would have gone a good way to feeling YES I was once a child. Those people are to Selfish and never gave a fiddlers fart about the older survivors >who are the real survivors, as long as they got their huge funding for chaseing the real survivors away.The whole thing stinks of corruption.

  4. Mossie says:

    Abuse survivors face delays in counseling

    Nearly 1,000 abuse survivors are on a waiting list to access counselling services from the Health Service Executive (HSE), new figures have revealed.

    The free National Counselling Service (NCS), which is available around the country, is aimed at adults who have been abused in childhood.

    The abuse may have happened within a family, in the community or other settings, including while a child was in the care of the State.

    The extent of the waiting list calls into question government pledges of support which followed the inquiries into institutional and clerical abuse.

    The HSE revealed 37 are waiting more than 12 months, with 263 facing delays of six months to a year. The largest group, 406, are waiting up to three months.

    The HSE revealed there were 12 staff vacancies in the service. Overall, there are 81 people employed in the NCS. Its helpline suffered a drop in funding in the past three years — it fell to €339,634 last year compared to €602,000 in 2008.

    Last year saw a big jump in people seeking the service, with the implications of the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009 still being felt. The figures show the number of referrals has gone up from 660 in 2000 to 2,853 in 2009.

    The extent of the need for this kind of helping hand was revealed in the NCS’s own report more than a year ago.

    It showed that nearly four in 10 of those referred were men. Nearly one in two were aged 26 to 39, and 29pc were aged between 40 and 54.

    Sexual abuse is the most commonly reported form of abuse. Seven in 10 of the men who contacted the service said they experienced sexual abuse in childhood.

    “In some cases, clients require long-term counselling of a year or more. In other cases, clients may require years of counselling.

    “In the case of those who were resident in institutions from early childhood, there is also the absence of normal developmental experiences which can make therapy difficult for people to engage in.

    “The NCS facilitates clients with flexible arrangements in accordance with their needs.”

    ?Helpline: 1800 477 477

  5. John Deegan says:

    The full document of charges laid against the Pope last month.

  6. fanny Adams says:

    Perhaps we should all be bundled into trucks and driving to the aislinn for counselling that is a way the government could get rid of us for once and for all.

  7. fanny Adams says:

    We have a right to be represented by an independent body to have the books from the aislinn to be opened and all the names they say they represent to be checked up on .and all funding recieved to be accounted for.same goes for soca uk ,of those 135 children who were in goldenbridge during the 1940’s- 1962 most live abroad and are elderly . some died. many are sick,many are really very sick and suffer various disabilities because of the abuse suffered as children most cannot travel even if they can are far to frightened and stressed at the taught of going to Ireland the horrible memories are to strong ,and we have all heard of the bullying waiting for them .>>> it also seems that those who were in goldenbridge in later years from 1964 until it closed down after it changed to an orphanage +these people were sent to the outside school the inside of the dark building was changed the large dormitories were divided up into smaller rooms and all provided with lockers <unheard of in former years the place was changed,those survivors have shown resentment toward older survivors .and are well able to scare older survivors away.VERY Selfish .all cases must be treated differently they are not the same.

  8. Sr Sadisticas Victim says:

    when we read what Mrs Buckley said >the priorities for the aislinn have always been Education and Counselling < we nearly fell off our chairs laughing this is coming from the only person from Goldenbridge through the nineteen 50's who had a full education from the nuns outside the Industrial school, she is only thinking of her funding and never gave a monkeys about the other survivors who were in Goldenbridge at the same time as her and never did none of them has ever been allowed to have any voice no one has heard of them she made sure of that only a couple who are friends of hers go there as for her suggestion of counselling ?if victims want to be finished off completely or totally driven out of our minds then go to the aislinn for counselling.she is a bully and scary and has been known to take her rage out on a couple of survivors who dared to go back to Ireland just for visit only to leave as quick as they can. SHE DOES NOT REPRESENT SURVIVORS IN ANY WAY.As for education those who left Ireland have had to survive alone and taught ourselves and Don't need that now and would rather NOT be held to ransom anymore by the government with the SILLY UNWORKABLE STATUARY TRUST FUND .WE WANT TO BE COMPENSATED EACH AS INDIVIDUALS SO WE CAN TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES AND OUR FAMILIES AND MOVE ON. WE DON'T WANT TO BE HELD BACK IN THE PAST HAVING TO CRAWL TO SOME SOLICITOR OR ADMINISTRATOR FILLING OUT FORMS HOLDING OUT OUR HANDS FOR HELP FROM THE DIFFICULT TO ACCESS UNWORKABLE TRUST FUND.THE GROUPS WANT IT ONLY TO KEEP THEIR OFFICES AND LIFESTYLE GOING THAT’S ALL THAT IS ABOUT THEY AND WILL DO EVERYTHING TO STOP SURVIVORS TRYING TO MOVE ON AND GET GOLDENBRIDGE OUT OF THEIR MINDS FOREVER.

  9. Sr Sadisticas Victim says:

    The religion I was taught in Goldenbridge was FEAR.Fear of everything and everyone ,Fear of Life,Fear of the Dark, Fear of the morning, Fear of the Day, fear I will become one of the screaming distorted bodies in Buring Hell Fires,The Devil was in me I was his child,I nailed Jesus to the cross and tortured him ,this is what the Nuns taught me about religion, I was only a child.I still Fear everything.That Fear stayed with me so that I even feared my own children.

  10. Mossie says:

    In brief: Irish bishops receive thousands of submissions on renewal of church

    Sunday March 20 2011

    The Pope’s letter to Irish Catholics a year ago prompted more than 3,000 written submissions to the Irish bishops on how the church should be renewed. Today the bishops will announce a €10m fund for an expanded counseling service with longer opening hours for the next five years for survivors of abuse.

    Copies of the bishops’ pastoral response, ‘Towards Healing and Renewal’ are available in parishes. The document is a pastoral initiative and makes no proposals to change the structures of power in the Catholic Church.

    In a statement launching the document, Cardinal Sean Brady said that: “Along with the grievous wrong of abuse, for many survivors their faith in God and in the church has been profoundly damaged. Many have expressed a hope that the damage to their faith can be addressed.”

  11. Sr Sadisticas Victim says:

    Marie lets face it older survivors who were in Goldenbridge and spent many Lost Lonley Sad,years in other country’s are most damaged Have been bullied on their return to Ireland visit .

  12. Marie-Thérèse O' Loughlin, says:

    Paddy, I tried to post the following in response to a comment at the “Abuse victims protest at service’ link, but was told that it was a duplicate comment – which it isn’t.

    Is there some failure in the system or are comments as such closed off?

    Am thus testing the ground here.

    Over to you.

    Thanking you.

    @pauline jackson 03/03/2011 at 20:03

    “Marie I have read the link and thanks very much for answering my question”.

    Thanks very much for interacting with me regarding the Regina Ceoli Mother and baby unit.

    I was horrified by the fact that a small child be in a room with an open fire.”

    Yeah, I was also at the mercy of young mothers, some as young as sixteen and maybe even younger to look after me as my mother was in hospital with TB.

    “As for a heavy wooden high chair to fall over it would have taken strength.”

    The negligence on the part of the mother and baby unit management indeed sounds so very bizarre.

    “Even in those days everyone one knew of the danger.”

    Yeah, there were notification posters placed in all Irish garda stations warning of the dangers of not using fire-guards.

    It was covered by the 1908 Act

    “It’s a very good example of how the child care system worked.”

    I know some people who were in Goldenbridge whose mother fled from the Regina Ceoli mother and baby unit because of the diabolical unhygienic conditions.

    The mother and baby unit fulfilled all the criteria needed for it to be placed on the redress schedule list.

    The one and only time I ever got angry in all my campaigning stint outside the Dail was with Mary Hanafin.

    I told her that she would one day get her comeuppance.

    Well, that day has finally arrived – she was not re-elected to the 31st Dail.

    I have nothing personal against MH, excepting that of the obstinate stance she took towards the mother and baby home in her capacity as minister of education.

    However in her capacity as Minister of Education she had clout and could have done something for me and others if she had tried hard enough.

    As too with some prominent survivor groups who never ever mentioned my campaign, or others, at government meetings.

    But made themselves highly visible when they tried very cleverly to hijack a conference (Xmas 2005) that was set up for the Regina Ceoli Mother & Baby unit and Bethany House.

    (I must note that the groups were justifiably fighting for others).

    It’s just the sudden manner with which it took place, is what I take umbrage.

    The same was applicable with Mary Harney, who as Minister for Health could have sorted out the matter.

    The government ministers and the prominent survivors, bar a few, preferred to see me rot outside Dail Eireann.

    Go Away!

    Go Away!

    Go Away was written all over their faces.

    Bertie Ahern said that I would be dealt with through the auspices of another institution.

    Which was a whole load of baloney.

    Pens never refuse ink when he told it to the Irish Times.

    Bertie Ahern was speaking out of the side of his mouth.

    He had no influence whatsoever over the RIRB.

    Yeah, I was greatly acknowledged by opposition politicians when I was actively campaigning to get the institution on the redress list.

    “You know Marie, nuns lied to many of us about our families. it was done to try and destroy any character in us.”

    Pauline, when they weren’t lying, they were keeping their mouths shut about our backgrounds.

    I knew nothing about myself in all my childhood in Goldenbridge.

    I could have come from outer space as far as I was concerned as I not only felt alienated – but like an alien from another planet.

    We didn’t even know how old we were, or what birthdays were, or what mothers and fathers were for indeed.

    It was also the same with lots of other children who never had visitors.

    I used to look on in amazement at other children with siblings and see that they had an extra added burden of protecting them.

    But they were lucky in that they had some semblance of a notion as to who they were.

    They were grounded in that they had some kind of identity.

    The reflection of their siblings mirrored that connection with other human beings.


    Not only did they try to destroy our characters, they also tried to destroy our identities.

    “When I think about the way XS spoke of our normal working class parents it makes my blood boil. ”

    Yeah, denigrating children who came from working class families was the norm in Goldenbridge.

    ‘Keogh Square’ to name but one area, was synonymous with being the epitome of the lowest of the lowest.

    I still have very strong images in my mind regarding Keogh Square and the sneering, snobbish way it was used to get at children whose families happened to have come from there.

    We never ventured outside the industrial school and discovered only as young people that KQ was right across the street from GB.

    However, we already knew of its existence because of the negative connotations piled on to us as children by the nuns.

    I was recently looking at photos of people who grew up in KS and the pride and joy on their faces made me feel so sad.

    I thought so much about the venom that was thrown at children who stemmed from there by the nuns in Goldenbridge.

    I was making comparisons to the vitriol that was implanted in my child’s brain concerning same and it just did not add up at all.

    The nuns in the convent were mostly not allowed to mix with Goldenbridge industrial school children because we were classed as mere unwashed child criminals of parents who had no standing in society.

    The latter were fallen people.

    To be frowned upon.

    To be torn away from by children.


    “The lament and repentance service in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral had its origin in a letter to The Irish Times on June 19th, 2009, following publication of the Ryan report the previous month.”

    That may be so – but the Ryan Report had its origins in stories such as the ones Pauline and I discuss above.

    Even the Irish Times was notified about the service whilst most survivors who are the very essence of its origins are once again frozen out.

    I think it is very undignified of the team behind the Lament & Repent scene.

    They ought to be lamenting and repenting for their failure to notify all survivors and not just those from the higher echelons.

    The snobbery and put-downs still continue.

    The institutions and the church taught them well.

    Old habits die hard.

  13. Andrew says:

    What a bunch of hypocrites – by ‘washing the feet’ of these victims they are really washing their hands of their culpability in the abuses committed against children in parishes, dioceses and particularly the Institutions.

    How can water wash away the physical and sexual abuse of children, the enslavement of children, the starvation of children, the torture of children, the homicide of children …. ?

  14. kathleen brack says:

    well done paddy what a great man you are my taughts are with you

  15. bill says:


  16. nom de guerre says:

    So what more words can the church produce, the very value of apoligies to victims is without worth unless these words are now followed through by deeds of penitence. Victims are now in a position to be listened to and their demands are not outlandish. I accept that Diarmuid Martin is the one cleric who at least is makeing an effort to meet the victims head on but there are other clerics who wish he would go back to Rome and stay there. He may very well do that but in the capacity of pope. Therefore any dialogue with Diarmuid is to be welcomed so as to settle oustanding issiues pertaining to compensation as promised. Words no longer have any meaning.

  17. Rose says:

    So. they wouldn’t let you in Paddy? What gives them the right to do that? It’s abuse all over again. They were in there putting on a show, washing feet, supposedly asking for forgivness, like that will make everything alright? It will never be alright.Not until the politicians and the so called religious BEGIN TO LISTEN TO ‘THE VICTIMS VOICES’ As they promised they would.

    So, what groups were involved in all of this, another load crap plotted behind closed doors? I only learned of this through your site Paddy, Thank you.

  18. nom de guerre says:

    The RC Church has not honoured its commitment to compensate the victims, they have not even paid their part of the infamous Indemnity Deal from 2002. They have not transferred monies owed to victims after the release of the Ryan Report in May 2009.. They are playing games with victims. Archbishop Martin could reach out and make this happen. Victims are in difficult circumtances and the stuggle for that which is right has taken its toll on them. Enough is eneough. The centre will not hold.

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