Thursday 19 July 2018

Victims' sad tales of abuse could fill a book

Don Lavery

Gerry Kelly was only six months old and too young to remember when he was sent to a home because his 18-year-old Catholic mother wasn't married and his father was a Protestant.

But he remembers all too well the rampant and horrific sexual, emotional and physical abuse from the Christian Brothers in Artane industrial school in Dublin in the 1960s.

Gerry and others abuse survivors told their stories to Lord Mayor of Dublin Eibhlin Byrne yesterday as Dubliners, shocked by this week's report on cruelty in institutions run by Catholic orders, lined up to sign a Book of Solidarity for the victims in the Mansion House.

Gerry, who gained some notoriety in 2002 when he confronted several bishops and the Papal Nuncio as they left a meeting in Maynooth, said the report had vindicated him and other survivors.

Visibly upset, and coping with the after-effects of a stroke he believes was brought on by the stress of his experiences, he told how he was given "love and affection" by the Sisters of Charity in Kilkenny when he was sent to them in 1957.

But his nightmare began when he was sent to Artane for three years in 1966 and where he was sexually abused by a dozen Christian Brothers.

Six of them are now dead, but he believes the others are being "harboured" by the religious order.

He pulls no punches when he speaks of his abusers.

"I hate the bastards," he said. Gerry, 52, said some Brothers who were abusers had visited Kilkenny to "handpick" good-looking boys like him for Artane.

When he was leaving Artane for another home in 1969 he was on a train with one of his abusers who gave the other boys £5 to go and buy food.

The abuser then tried to sexually abuse him one last time, but Gerry bravely fought him off.

Ms Byrne said she had found a huge amount of anger and upset at the revelations and had set up the book of solidarity as she felt an outlet of some kind was needed.

"It's so sad. You have grown men breaking down in front of children. They want to know someone is listening and hearing what they are saying," she said.

Ms Byrne said the Mansion House will be open for the book signing to-day "and as long as we feel people want to come".

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