Wednesday 13 December 2017

Counselling referrals up 50pc after sex abuse conviction

Greg Harkin

THE numbers contacting HSE counselling services in the wake of a sex abuse scandal has surged.

Michael Ferry was jailed for 14 years last month after abusing four boys at a former school building run in Derrybeg in Co Donegal by the Irish language group Colaiste Cholmcille.

Tom McGrath, director of counselling with the HSE National Counselling Service in the north-west said that referrals to the service in Donegal had increased by 50pc since the launch of the information line on July 27 in response to the Ferry conviction.

"The staff in the Donegal office have been very busy getting back to people who have called the freephone number and are arranging initial meetings for those who wish to be seen,'' he said.

"Some callers do not want to attend for counselling right now but need advice and reassurance that the service will be there for them if and when they decide to engage. Attending for counselling can be a stressful and frightening prospect for many victims of historical abuse.''


Mr McGrath added: "Clients can be assured of a professional, confidential and client-centred service which respects the sensitivities of the issues involved."

There was much local anger when it was revealed that Ferry (56) had a previous child sex abuse conviction but was allowed to continue his 'odd jobs' role at the school.

•Parishioners will be able to voice their concerns and anger over the Cloyne report revelations at special meetings throughout the diocese.

The meetings were proposed at a gathering of clerics organised by the Association of Catholic Priests. It took place just 48 hours after Fr Joseph McGuane said there was "a culture of fear" within the diocese and that clerics needed to speak out.

Individual parish priests will be asked to consider calling special meetings where people can speak about the Cloyne Report findings.

Irish Independent

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