Saturday 23 February 2019

Ex-garda lifts lid on decades of child abuse in Gaeltacht

New book says clergy ignored sex crimes

Eugene Greene: Former priest
is due for release in December
Eugene Greene: Former priest is due for release in December

Anita Guidera

A retired garda has called for an independent inquiry into four decades of child sexual abuse in a remote corner of the Gaeltacht.

From the 1960s to the 1990s, dozens of children were being abused by four paedophiles in the area, which stretched from Gortahork, on the north Donegal coast, south to Leitermacaward and Glenties, and west to Annagry and Kincasslagh.

In a shocking new book, 'Breaking the Silence', former garda Martin Ridge, who investigated the horrific cases of priest Eugene Greene and teacher Denis McGinley, has accused the Catholic Church of turning a blind eye on the decades of devastation.

"An inquiry would show that members of the clergy had to know what was going on. We know they were made aware of it," he said.

He added that the hurt in the communities was being compounded by the release and pending release of the perpetrators.

Greene, who violently abused altar boys in different parishes for 17 years, was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment in 2000 and is due for release in December.

In 2002, McGinley, who Mr Ridge said abused "a conveyor belt of victims", was sentenced to 30 months on 21 sample charges and has since been released.

A third man -- who was never named -- abused young boys in the 1970s and 1980s in the Annagry area. He received a 12-year sentence in September 1999 and is due for release in August.

And Jimmy O'Donnell, who used his dwarf stature to gain the trust of the local community in Kincasslagh, was sentenced to four years on 26 sample counts of abuse. He was released last December.

Mr Ridge, who retired from the Garda Siochana in 2002, spent the last five years of his career working with colleague Detective John Dooley exposing four decades of abuse.

The book, which will be launched tonight, details the painstaking work carried out by the gardai in tracking down and building the confidence of scores of abuse victims.

Suicide

He said that many were addicted to alcohol and drugs and had broken relationships and marriages. There was also evidence that some victims had died by suicide.

But the book also reveals complaints that went unheard and unheeded, leaving the perpetrators free to abuse with impunity for decades.

Ridge said an inquiry would also reveal church documents which they were unable to access at the time.

In 1976, a complaint was made to another priest in Gortahork about Greene.

He disappeared for a period of time but returned, to the surprise of the family, who were told that he would not "interfere" with their son again. But the abuse continued.

The current bishop, Dr Philip Boyce,said in a television documentary that he was first made aware of an allegation against Greene in 1998.

In the case of McGinley, a parent complained to a local curate in June 1984. McGinley was teaching again that September and continued to abuse boys in the school for 11 years.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News