Tuesday 26 September 2017

'It is a relief that he is gone' - Abused granddaughter of former Lord Mayor of Cork speaks for the first time

John Murray: former mayor
John Murray: former mayor
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

The granddaughter of a former Lord Mayor of Cork admitted she feels "relief" that the man who abused her has finally died.

Elaine Murray spoke for the first time after describing a row within Cork City Council over a message of sympathy at the death of former Lord Mayor John Murray (85) last weekend as being like "a slap in the face."

"I want the people of Cork to know that I am his granddaughter," she said.

When the former Lord Mayor was convicted of abuse charges three years ago, Ms Murray's identity was protected and it was not made public that she was the victim.

Ms Murray contacted Cork's RedFm's Neil Prendeville Show after saying she was "very, very disappointed" at a renewed controversy over John Murray who was jailed in 2013 after being convicted before Cork Circuit Criminal Court of abusing her.

"There are members of the Murray family who are grieving today," she said.

"But there are other members of the Murray family who are not."

"There has been such a divide in our family that for other members of the family this is a relief."

"It is a relief that he is gone."

Mr Murray died last Saturday in Marymount Hospice after a long illness.

His Requiem Mass and funeral is being held today in The Lough.

However, only three of Mr Murray's children were listed on his death notice - two of his children, a daughter and son, the aunt and father of Ms Murray, were not mentioned.

Both had staunchly supported her when she told Gardaí about what her grandfather had done to her.

"He never threatened me (to stay quiet)," she said.

"He (John Murray) didn't have to. It was an intimidation tactic."

"He was a powerful man - a big, strong man. He was in his 60s but he was very fit."

She finally told her parents what had happened after her grandmother's death.

Read more: Micheal Martin's brother defends decision to offer sympathy to family of paedophile

The young woman insisted that her grandfather admitted what he had done at a family meeting - but later retracted what he had said and insisted the comments were only made because he was in fear of his life.

During the 2013 trial, the Murray family were split - with half supporting the innocence of the former Lord Mayor and half supporting Ms Murray.

Ms Murray then had to contact Cork City Council after the conviction to request that a portrait of her grandfather be removed from City Hall.

This was done though she admitted nothing can be done about the numerous plaques and memorials around the city that still bear his name.

"I know you cannot air-brush him from history," she said.

Ms Murray said the row over the expression of sympathy in City Hall was "very upsetting" because she felt his death and funeral would pass without comment.

"Three years has passed (since the conviction). I got a lot of help and support and I can talk about it now."

The brother of Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, has defended the decision to offer a vote of sympathy to the family of the former Lord Mayor convicted of sexually assaulting a child.

Councillor Sean Martin proposed a vote of sympathy to the entire Murray family.

It was passed despite one councillor, Councillor Chris O'Leary, expressing his concern.

When John Murray was convicted in 2013 of sexually assaulting a teen following a high profile Cork Circuit Criminal Court trial, a portrait of him was removed from City Hall.

Murray had served as Lord Mayor of Cork in 1993 and had led a Cork delegation to the US in 1994.

The former Labour councillor, who ran a taxi business, contested the charges and never expressed remorse to his victim as he was jailed for 12 months.

But Mr Martin said the expression of sympathy was for the entire Murray family who had themselves suffered so much.

He flatly rejected suggestions that the sympathy in any way minimised or condoned what Murray himself had done.

“What he did was wrong. But there is hurt on all sides here,” he said.

“His family have suffered through this as well."

 "It’s a tragedy all round and I think it’s very sad that that hurt will be carried by members of his family into another generation,” Councillor Martin added.

However, the City Council stance had been criticised by Rape Crisis Network Ireland.

They warned that the lack of protocol to stop such an expression of sympathy because there was no system to halt it if some councillors were concerned at its impact was absolutely no defence.

"It is simply not appropriate,"an RCNE official said.

"The question is, what kind of message does this send out?"

Murray died in Marymount Hospice in Cork on Saturday after a long illness.

He had served nine months of his sentence before being released early.

His victim had requested, through Councillor O'Leary, that no official representative of Cork City Council attend the funeral as is traditional for former Lord Mayors.

A jury convicted Murray in 2013 on five of the six charges he faced after deliberating for over six hours.

He was found not guilty on a sixth charge.

The former Lord Mayor remained emotionless as he was led away to begin his sentence.

Judge Sean O'Donnabhain remarked that the former politician had not shown much remorse towards the victim.

The girl said she was left shocked and frightened by the assaults which happened in Murray's car, in a pub toilet and at another premises in Cork.

Murray of Gregg Road, Cork vehemently denied all the charges over various dates between 1996 and 1998.

The first incident occurred three years after he was Lord Mayor but while he was still serving on Cork City Council.

Murray broke down in evidence as he said the claims left him "disgusted" and "sick to the stomach."

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