Friday 15 December 2017

An end to keeping misery behind closed doors

For far too long evil acts have been hidden in the name of protecting the 'sanctity' of the family, writes Emer O'Kelly

The Children's Court, Smithfield
The Children's Court, Smithfield

Emer O'Kelly

A colleague said to me during the week that he remembered being in the Children's' Court as a young reporter and hearing a 14-year-old child tell the judge: "I had twins for me father." The poor child was probably sent to some kind of reform school as a "bad lot". It wasn't reported.

And I remember a case in the Children's' Court myself which still haunts me. When I was a trainee journalist the Children's' Court was our baptism of fire. We were sent there because it didn't matter then, and we could cut our teeth.

I may have had a university education, but I was naive to the point of stupidity. One of the reasons I was naive was because Irish newspapers had never published stories which might "upset" people. Parents, for instance, needed to be comfortable about their children; not to be alarmed that they might be taken up the Dublin mountains and raped by a pervert. Or raped behind the altar on a Sunday while still wearing their altarboy's garb. Even in the 1990s, somebody was still able to say to me: "At least we're not like England."

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