By Patricia McDonagh

Tuesday April 06 2010

GARDAI are investigating the unexplained disappearance of 1,000 pairs of children’s shoes that were used to symbolise the suffering of victims of clerical abuse.

Abuse survivors had tied the tiny shoes to the railings outside a Dublin Cathedral on Sunday, to symbolise generations of children who fell victim to institutional abuse.

But yesterday it emerged that the shoes, which had been draped all around St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, had mysteriously gone missing from the railings.

It remained unclear last night whether they had been removed by a third party or stolen by an unscrupulous passer-by.


Abuse campaigner Frank Robinson bought the shoes for €4,200 from Denmark to use as an international symbol against child abuse.

He was left distraught when he went to collect them from outside the cathedral later on Sunday to find they had gone missing.

Gardai last night said they were examining the circumstances leading up to the disappearance of the shoes, which were reported missing at 6pm on Sunday.

A spokesman for the pro-cathedral did not answer calls by the Irish Independent last night.

The shoes were initially hung up in a bid to urge Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to recognise the Catholic Church’s shame when he turned up for Easter Sunday Mass at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral.

Those who were raped and physically and emotionally abused by members of the clergy heckled him when he arrived to celebrate the biggest event in the church calendar.

The church has been under immense pressure in recent weeks to push for the resignation of church hierarchy who were involved in the cover up of clerical child abuse.

In a move seen as a further failure for victims, Cardinal Sean Brady this week signalled he would not leave his position as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland — despite widespread calls for his resignation since it emerged that he swore abuse victims to secrecy.

– Patricia McDonagh


17 Responses to “Probe after shoes used in tribute to abused go missing”

  1. Tony Duggan says:

    I think it is a great symbolic gesture to tie baby shoes to a church railing. Interesting that the Zombies took them down.

    Its a very potent and powerful symbol if you ask me and when I first heard about it I could picture it in my mind.

    I’m not surprised the Zombies took them down. If it were up to me I’d put a memorial garden with flowers – a peaceful place with a suitable statue decided on by Survivors- right across from the Pro-Cathedral.

    Small shoes … it does strike at you.

  2. FXR says:

    It occurred to me that if I could get the shoes from April 4th back then why not the shoes from the protest on the 24th of March.

    So now I have them too.

    This could end up opening a new category in the environmentally friendly awards.
    You protest by tying shoes to the Pro.
    They take them down.
    You put them back up, they take them down, you put them back up, they ta k e …..

    It’s the ultimate recyclable protest…

  3. Portia says:

    Thank goodness the shoes are back with their rightfull owner.

    The Pro Cathedral is actually not private property- there is no such thing in Universal Law.

    Vatican created the notion of private property-

    But, logically, ask ourselves.

    Who paid to build the Pro Cathedral?

    The people.

    Did the Church get a receipt from Mother Earth to show they paid her for the land?


    She gave it for free, for all humans to share.

  4. FXR says:

    There is a Canadian group coming to Dublin next Thursday April 15 2010. They protested in Rome on April 4.

    The group will be arriving in Ireland on April 14 to prepare for a rally and press conference outside the Dáil in downtown Dublin on Thursday, April 15 at 12 noon.

    The rally will be held to press the Irish government for swifter action to bring to justice those responsible for the church’s abuse and murder of children under their care; and to seek Irish support for an international tribunal into these crimes.

    They will be in London on the 11 and 12.

    If you can be in either place or know someone else let them know about the protest.

    If you can post a notice about the protest on any message boards, websites or forums where people might be interested please do.

    More info here;

  5. Andrew says:

    It’s no coincidence that the Oath-giver-in-General Sean Brady and the bishops, known to the Murphy Commission, have held secret meetings with these people. Birds of a feather flock together.

  6. mmaguire says:

    I am sure there may be many reasons that Cardinal Sean Brady signalled he would not leave his position as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland — despite widespread calls for his resignation.

    One of these presumably that the
    realise the political potency of this should this occur. If a cardinal goes then the next in the chain would be the bishop of Rome.

    Rome has a long political tradition including many murky dealings.

    As they say, power corrupts.

    This I assume also displays fear in that they realise that the pope is potentially vulnerable.

    I personally can’t balance the church assumption of moral authority and its hierarchy’s abuse of this claimed authority.

    But then during WW2 and immediately after, a number of examples can be seen where “playing with both sides” was the order of the day. Hiding priests responsible for mass murder in the Balkans, assisting Nazis escape to S.America while saving Italian Jews.

    So braving out calls for resignation is nothing for such a duplicitous organisation.


  7. FXR says:

    The shoes have been returned and they are back home safe and sound. The Church took them down and they were in the parish office. When I found that out they made arrangements to have them returned. I can’t say that they would not have done otherwise.

    There is a Canadian Group coming to Dublin next Thurdsay to protest the child rape and torture. I wonder if they need shoes….

  8. sean morrison says:

    Paddy, I say to the thief’s in Dublin who stole the symbol of our suffering as children, “if you would only walk one mile in our shoe’s” you would surely hang them back up,and may the day never come that you or your loved ones experience our suffering, protecting abuser,s is gallant on your part as you kneel in front of God,(NO) May God forgive you.

  9. FXR says:

    There is a reference to what went on inside the church in the Irish Times report by Patsy McGarry at the end of this thread

  10. Rose Gosnell says:

    I thought the HOUSE OF GOD was open to all. Well that sure wasn’t the case on 4th April 2010 at the Pro Cathedral in Dublin. I had no sooner hung a pair of shoes beneath a notice board (outside the church) when a woman wearing a red coat angrily tore them down and informed me that I could not hang anything on PRIVATE CHURCH PROPERTY. I spoke to a lady from Galway who did manage to get inside with the shoes. She said she had been verbally abused my some members of the congregation.
    They couldn’t even show a shred of kindness to those who have endured so much. They could have remained silent. Absolutely shocking it is.

  11. FXR says:

    What if enough survivors simply registered on Baby Shoes Remember or some other forum or got together in some way.

    If a big enough number of genuine survivors put their names down and issued a statement something can be achieved. It looks to me that RTE in particular and the Bishops are manipulating public opinion by appearing to be quoting the “survivors”. Once RTE have been put on notice if they repeat the behaviour they can be reported to the new Broadcasting Commission.

  12. Raymond says:


    I’m really very sorry about the shoes. What a bunch of cynical lunatic right-wing people would do that? Is there no CCTV footage in the area?

    I thought the whole protest was very very good. Effective and dignified. As were the few different – all random – people who turned up and spoke: they spoke loudly but without shouting. Clearly but without being intimadating.

    I was shocked to find out that YOU have born the entire cost of the operation: shoes, ribbons, postage….etc. And horrified that others wouldn’t lend their support. Man! I thought I was attending the same kind of protest as a few weeks ago. NOT SO !

    So well done Frank: you deserve a medal. I would gladly contribute to help with the cost
    if there is a way.

    I was impressed that you represented NO ONE group; just everybody.

    I wouldn’t be so happy to go and listen to our President as she represent ALL that HAS “NOT” HAPPENED so far, the Silent Establishement. But I will consult your link here for other events.

    All the best.


    PS: KATHLEEN – Sorry if I misled you: there is NO other march planned at the moment. I was just refering to the “movement” seeking justice and compensation from the authorities, Church and State.

  13. pauline jackson says:

    Since the shoes were stolen from the Church’s property does that make our symbol stolen or excommunication. Anyway I hope that they had thought of taking out insurance. because that makes a lot of money to lose for the organisers ,

  14. Paddy says:

    These groups don’t represent anyone and that’s a well proven fact. I’ve heard about a recent meeting in Liberty Hall. It was described to me by people who like yourself managed to attend, that this so called meeting was farcical, rowdy, not even half organised and worst of all, many people who did attend felt seriously intimidated. From the hundreds of emails I receive in a week, and thousands a month, I’ve never had ONE SINGLE EMAIL asking that Irish SOCA or any other organisation represent them. Practically 100% of writers to this website don’t want anything to do with any of these self appointed “representative groups” whose leaders have bigger egos than they have membership of their what can at best be described as imaginary organisations.

    One such organisation which has a “mickey mouse” website told me that they get their members by the numbers of ‘clicks’ they get on the website. How daft can you get?

    The particular great Leader that welcomed the Pope’s letter, tangled himself in knots a day or two later when he tried to back out of what he’d originally said.

    I’ve said it time and time again that as a survivor or abuse, there isn’t one single ‘representative group’ in this country that I would want to represent me in any way, shape or form. I don’t want them speaking on my behalf to either bishops, priest, popes of paupers. Simple as that. Paddy.

  15. FXR says:

    Someone needs to publicly ask just how many people exactly these “groups” represent. I was in Liberty Hall when one prominent “survivors representative” was elected by half a dozen people. When the Popes dodgy apology came out it was he who was quoted on RTE news welcoming it.

  16. pauline jackson says:

    I suppose the shoes have gone somewhere else if the church has a problem about memories well shoes are innocent. They were only covering feet but our memories of the conditions we had to put up with and no angry ladies to defend us were terrible and we have a right to mourn our childhoods.

  17. Paddy says:

    No doubt those beating their breasts and praying for the Pope have a more than fair idea where these shoes have gone. Priorities are what’s important and that means the safety and welfare of our children MUST take precedence over anything to do with the Church.

    Despite the interview given to TV News, it’s clear that Mr. Kelly and his Irish SOCA got it all wrong again when he announced that Cardinal Brady would be stepping down. Another story put out for survivors of abuse to absorb only to be disappointed yet again. This happens all to often and must be stopped.

    The ‘craw thumpers’ and breast beaters must now advise the police where those shoes, so symbolic of the abuse suffered by innocent children at the hand or religious orders, are. It would mean a lot to an awful lot of people.