Writer who was abused collapses after speech at protest
A WRITER who survived years of abuse at a religious institution collapsed after making an impassioned speech at a protest against government cuts.
Patrick Touher (72), from Balbriggan, who wrote 'Fear of the Collar, my Terrifying Childhood in Artane', was sent into the care of the Christian Brothers at the age of eight after the death of his mother and the departure of his father, who left the country.
In his book, he wrote about years of physical and sexual abuse during his time at Artane.
Two other people are believed to have collapsed at yesterday's protest which saw up to 5,000 demonstrators, most of them elderly, descend on Leinster House.
Many had travelled from the farthest-flung parts of the country and carried placards attacking the Government.
Cheered on by the crowd, Paddy Moran of SIPTU mocked Taoiseach Enda Kenny's pre-election promises to make Ireland a great country in which to grow old.
"One of the main boasts of this Government is that the core state pension has been left untouched by this Budget," he said.
"And, of course, they are right. That is, if you don't suffer from any illnesses that require a visit to the doctor, that would require hospitalisation or any kind of prescribed medicines.
"It was also a great Budget as long as you or your spouse manage to stay alive for ever so you would not be in need of the bereavement grant."
The veteran activist said the abolition of the phone allowance had condemned older people to a life of isolation.
Former junior health minister and Labour rebel Roisin Shortall was briefly heckled when she took to the podium.
But after a steward called for order, she urged the gathering to step up the fight against the cuts.
"It's a disgrace that you have to take to the streets again because of what this Government is doing to older people," she said.
Ms Shortall called on people to get on the airwaves, on the streets and on to TDs to reverse the "unfair" measures.
"Once upon a time we had a country that stood by the older generation, where older people were listened to, looked after, loved and where older people were treated with respect and not treated like some kind of unwanted burden," she added.
Robin Webster, chief executive of Age Action, said the Budget had hit the sickest, the most vulnerable and the poorest.
A small number of protesters later marched to the GPO.
Gardai said there were no major incidents and put the turnout at around 12,000 people.