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Tuesday 20 November 2018

Horrors endured have left a lasting legacy of misery

Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent

THE ABUSE suffered by up to 50 young boys at St John's National School in Sligo, between the 1960s and the 1980s, has left a lasting legacy of misery.

As adults, many of the victims have struggled to live normal lives and have lapsed into depression.

Some have attempted suicide, developed alcohol and drug problems, and had difficulties forming and sustaining relationships and marriages.

"There are hardly any of us that haven't been for counselling at some stage or developed a dependence on alcohol or drugs," one abuse victim, now in his 40s and still living in Sligo, told the Irish Independent.

"None of us really knew how much was going on until the trials started and we met other victims at the court. A lot of us stay in touch and we do our best to support one another."

Having to give evidence in court against their former teachers was a terrible ordeal.


"It all comes flooding back when you have to talk about it and you realise you were at the centre of something terrible," the victim said.

One victim told gardai how Peter White (74), formerly known as Brother Agnellus, hung him by his anorak from a clothes hook on the back of a door. White would also follow the boy into the toilets and indecently assault him by grabbing his genitals. The victim said he still suffered flashbacks had nightmares about a man in a black cloak.

White got three years in prison in 2005.

The nine victims of lay-teacher Patrick Curran (61) told gardai how he would squeeze into the desk beside them on the pretence of correcting homework only to put his hand on their genitals.

One of Curran's victims revealed how he once ran into the changing rooms in tears. Curran came in and proceeded to place his hand in the youngster's shorts and feel his genitals.

Curran was sentenced to 12 years in jail in 2005.

Lay-teacher Michael Cunnane also used pretence to carry out abuse. His eight victims were kept behind after school for "horse riding lessons". Cunnane would put the boys on his lap and pretend he was a horse and they were a jockey. He received a three-year suspended sentence in 1999.

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