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School defends its role in horror case

The school attended by the children from the Co Roscommon house of horrors has defended its actions.

The board of management of the small national school was responding to comments made at the sentencing hearing of the mother, who admitted neglecting and ill-treating her children from the time they were born.

Judge Miriam Reynolds asked why nobody had intervened when the condition and behaviour of the children must have been obvious.

A statement issued to a local radio station yesterday said: "The board of management of the school involved have issued the following statement: 'We are absolutely shocked at the revelations which have emerged from the recent trial and our thoughts are with the children at this difficult time.

'We are satisfied that all proper procedures were followed and reports were made to the relevant authorities when necessary'.''

Meanwhile, the most senior church figure in the west yesterday expressed his "great sadness" at the suffering endured by the children.

The Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary, issued a brief statement in which he added: "I wish them every blessing, pray for healing in the future and hope that with the support of every possible community structure, situations of this nature will never occur again."

The parish priest of the village at the time of the earliest abuse and neglect is now dead, but his successor who has been PP for the last decade or so said he was unable to comment.



Identification

The priest pointed out that he was very aware of the court ruling that neither the children, nor the area in which they lived, should be identified.

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In the village yesterday, it emerged that lasting bitterness from a previous sex scandal there, when abuse was alleged to have taken place, may have been a factor in halting locals from intervening.

More than 20 years ago, allegations surfaced that a small number of young girls had been interfered with by an individual in the community.

None of those involved had any connection with the case heard at Roscommon Circuit Court this week.

The parents of the children involved were very distressed and a Garda investigation was launched.

The episode split the community in two, with an amount of support for the parents of the children, but others strongly backing the individual against whom the allegations were being made.

A local man confirmed the controversy yesterday to the Irish Independent and recalled that it had been hugely divisive.

"A handful of young children came forward and it split the community. It was worse than politics," he said.

"People took sides, and, at the end of the day, there were no prosecutions. But those who had stuck their heads above the ground got them chopped off.

"The people who made the allegations were really pulverised and regarded and treated as second class citizens.

"I've no doubt that people got very badly burnt over that and are still bitter to this day . . . many probably felt they were not going to get involved again in something similar."


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