Sunday 23 October 2016

Brave victim must not be forgotten

Published 25/05/2009 | 00:00

I would like to put on record that the pseudonym 'Noah Kitterick' employed by the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse refers to Mr Peter Tyrell.

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It should enter the public record that this brave man, who suffered abuse for six years at the hands of the Christian Brothers in Letterfrack, who was ignored by them when he confronted them about the abuses in 1953, who in 1958 wrote an 80,000-word account depicting in the most memorable and honest fashion the numerous violations and terror he suffered, should now suffer the ignominy of perpetual anonymity in the final report into the culture of abuse in these institutions.

The claims Peter Tyrell made to Senator Owen Sheehy Skeffington in the 1950s lay hidden for nearly half a century until they were discovered and published in 'Founded on Fear' (Irish Academic Press and Transworld Ireland) in 2006.

The decision to deny his brave testimony this small place in the official account is quite unnecessary since Peter Tyrell was referred to by his real name by both Justice Ryan and Brother Gibson of the Christian Brothers in the evidence relating to Letterfrack (June 16, 2006).

It is made all the more incredible since the publication of Peter Tyrell's account in 2006 led to an apology by the Christian Brothers for their treatment of him.

I understand that the commission took a view that it must protect both the complainant's and abuser's identities. However, Mr Tyrell's desire to let the world know about the culture of violence in Letterfrack was very clear

As he said himself -- in a letter before he burned himself alive in despair on Hampstead Heath in April, 1967: "My story, which is true, should be published in my own name".

I commend the report itself, while remaining deeply disappointed by the commission's decision to unjustly censor the honourable memory of Peter Tyrell.

Dr Diarmuid Whelan
Department of History,
University College Cork

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