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Saturday 20 September 2014

President Michael D Higgins joins mourners at funeral of Christine Buckley

*Campaigner described as 'a tiny voice amid a clamour of denial and recrimination'

Published 13/03/2014 | 10:33

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Donal Buckley, right, and his son Conor, second right, carrying the coffin at St Therese, Mount Merrion, after the funeral mass of Christine Buckley
Donal Buckley, right, and his son Conor, second right, carrying the coffin at St Therese, Mount Merrion, after the funeral mass of Christine Buckley
President Higgins pictured arriving at St Therese, Mount Merrion for the funeral of Christine Buckley this morning.
President Higgins pictured arriving at St Therese, Mount Merrion for the funeral of Christine Buckley this morning.
Ivana Bacik and President Higgins pictured  at St Therese, Mount Merrion for the funeral of Christine Buckley, this morning.
Ivana Bacik and President Higgins pictured at St Therese, Mount Merrion for the funeral of Christine Buckley, this morning.

CHRISTINE Buckley was a 'tiny voice amid a clamour of denial and recrimination' - but through persistence and determination her voice won freedom and vindication, mourners at her funeral have heard.

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President Michael D Higgins led mourners in a final farewell to the brave Dublin woman who died last Monday following a long illness.

The Taoiseach was represented by his ADC Commandant Ciaran Carey.

Chief mourners at her funeral at the church of St Therese in Mount Merrion today were her husband Donal, and their three adult children, daughter Cliona and sons Darragh and Conor.

The remains were received by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.

Hundreds of mourners attended the mass, with well known singer Rebecca Storm giving an emotional rendition of Tell Me It's Not True.

Christine Buckley (67) was one of the first people to speak out publicly about the abuse of children in institutions in Ireland.

In a heartfelt tribute, Chief celebrant Fr Tony Coote said Christine's voice had won freedom and vindication, opening doors for many others who had been abused, those who had been voiceless.

Christine had represented the power of one against so many, he said.

 We know from the terrible story of the horror of abuse of children, people did tell their story but no one believed.

"Perhaps belief is Christine's greatest legacy," he said, adding that she had "never tarred anyone with the same brush."

"Where there was goodness and kindness she acknowledged it but where there was untruth and darkness she exposed it," he said.

A family has lost a wife, a mother, a sister, Fr Coote pointed out, adding that he was certain Christine was proud of her family and the life she enabled for them growing up with a childhood very different to her own.

And while she did not experience much love in her own early years, Fr Coote said she had surely left this life knowing she was beloved on this earth.

Born to a 31-year-old married woman and a 20-year-old Nigerian medical student, Christine  was given up for fostering at three weeks old before ending up in Goldenbridge at the age of four.

A long-time campaigner for survivors of institutional abuse she first spoke of her own abuse as a child in Dublin’s Goldenbridge orphanage to Gay Byrne on RTÉ Radio One in 1992.

In 1996 the Louis Lentin documentary Dear Daughter dealt with her experiences at Goldenbridge where she was sent after being given up for fostering shortly after birth.

In 1999, with her close friend Carmel McDonnell Byrne, she set up the Aislinn centre in Dublin’s city centre which has been helping survivors of institutional abuse and their families through therapy and education ever since.

In March/April 1999 Mary Raftery’s three-part series States of Fear, partly inspired by Dear Daughter and dealing with the abuse of children in orphanages, reformatories and industrial schools, was broadcast on RTÉ.

It led to then taoiseach Bertie Ahern apologising on behalf of the State to people who had been in such institutions as children.

He has said since he was also inspired to issue the apology after many meetings with Ms Buckley.

Irish Independent

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