THE Irish priest who comforted the parents of slain British toddler Jamie Bulger (2) has said the murder is something he finds too painful to talk about even after 20 years.
Jamie's father Ralph Bulger has paid an emotional tribute to Fr Michael O'Connell MSC for the incredible support he showed the family after their horrific 1993 ordeal.
The little boy was abducted, tortured and murdered by two youths on February 12, 1993.
Jamie had been in the New Strand shopping centre in Bootle, Liverpool, with his mother Denise when he was approached by Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, both 10 years old at the time. His battered body was later found on a railway line in Walton, some 4km away.
Fr Michael is now based with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart on Cork's Western Road.
The murdered boy's father said they simply wouldn't have coped without Fr Michael.
"Talking to our parish priest, Father Michael, was the most enormous help," Mr Bulger said. "One emotional afternoon, I wept buckets of tears with him and felt not one ounce of embarrassment. Afterwards, I thought about what he had said. Could I ever stop blaming myself for James's death?"
Mr Bulger has written a book about his ordeal entitled 'My James'. "The truth is that my anger was the only thing that kept me going sometimes, but I also knew it was eroding every fibre of my humanity. I knew I could never forgive Thompson and Venables, but I desperately wanted to feel normal again.
"It is something I still prefer not to talk about," Fr Michael told the Irish Independent. But he confirmed he remains in intermittent contact with the family.
Jamie's killers were both convicted of the crime and became the youngest murderers in modern British history. Both served eight years before being released with new identities.
Britain's attorney-general is now conducting an investigation into the publication on Twitter last week of images purporting to show adult photos of Jon Venables.