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Tributes as abuse 'warrior' Christine loses cancer battle

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Christine Buckley, who spoke out about her harrowing childhood at Goldenbridge orphanage. Photo: Collins

Christine Buckley, who spoke out about her harrowing childhood at Goldenbridge orphanage. Photo: Collins

Christine Buckley, who spoke out about her harrowing childhood at Goldenbridge orphanage. Photo: Collins

THE husband of abuse survivor Christine Buckley has described her as "a warrior against injustice".

Donal Buckley last night paid tribute to his wife, who died aged 67 after a long battle with cancer, saying: "She was somebody that we were very proud of."

Ms Buckley will be remembered as a pioneer in the fight to expose Ireland's institutional abuse scandals after she exposed the truth about her harrowing upbringing in a church-run orphanage.

Ms Buckley was raised in Inchicore's notorious Goldenbridge orphanage, run by the Sisters of Mercy, in the 1950s and early 60s.

She sent shockwaves through Irish society in 1992 when she spoke about her harrowing experiences at the hands of the nuns.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny led tributes from politicians, human rights activists, broadcasters and members of the clergy, describing Ms Buckley as "a person of immense courage, who was responsible as a pioneer in bringing to public awareness the question of institutional abuse."

Closure

"You would not have had a redress scheme to bring some closure, some comfort to people who were abused were it not for Christine Buckley," he said.

Her husband Donal said she had battled illness for 30 years, but her condition worsened considerably in the last 12 months.

"She was a warrior for people's rights, a warrior for education, a warrior for people trying to trace their parents. She was a warrior against injustice," he said.

Christine, who co-founded counselling service the Aislinn Centre, was particularly passionate about the rights of survivors of Ireland's industrial schools.

Mr Buckley, former deputy property editor with the Irish Independent, said his wife passed away at 5am yesterday in St Vincent's Hospital.

"We understood that she was going to live for another fortnight but unfortunately she went faster than we thought. It was an indication of the pain she was enduring. She has been in a lot of pain for 13 months," he added.

"She was somebody that we were very proud of. It was unfortunate she went while she still had so much to offer."

Christine is survived by her husband and three children, Cliona (36), Darragh (34) and Conor (33).

Conor wrote a poignant Facebook post earlier this week thanking Ireland rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll for a kind gesture towards his mother.

"He heard my mum was in hospital and he rang her up to cheer her up," Conor wrote.

Louis Lentin – who made the groundbreaking 1996 documentary Dear Daughter in which Christine tells of the horrors of Goldenbridge – recalled the occasion when she was conferred with an honorary Doctor in Laws by Trinity College.

"She was bouncing all over the place. She was very, very happy," Mr Lentin said.

Christine first spoke to the nation about Goldenbridge on the Gay Byrne Show in 1992.

"She came on and did a fantastic interview about her experience," Mr Bryne said.

"That was the beginning of the uncovering of what was going on."

Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop, chief executive of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said that Ms Buckley's contribution to "breaking the silence" about child abuse in Ireland was "immeasurable".

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said "Christine contributed enormously to a sea change in the Church's attitude."

Fianna Fail Leader Micheal Martin added: "I believe Christine will have a lasting place in Irish history."

 


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