Louth councillor wants Freedom of Drogheda rescinded from Christian Brother
Alleged victims of Christian Brothers from all over the world are calling on the people of Louth to show their support by rescinding the Freedom of Drogheda from the former leader of the Christian Brothers, as he presided over a litigation strategy which means that cases against the order must be taken against all the members of the order at the time of the alleged wrongdoing.
Acting for the survivors, Independent Louth councillor Maeve Yore has attempted to have a motion tabled at council level on two occasions, calling for the honour to be removed, as survivors say it is causing distress to victims and alleged victims of sexual abuse by members of the Christian Brothers.
The Brother was given the Freedom of Drogheda in 1997 and apologised publicly at the time for any hurtful experiences people suffered because of the order, or in its schools.
Cllr Yore would like Louth County Council to call on the Christian Brothers to change its legal strategy for dealing with victims.
Her motion, which was removed from the agenda stated:
“That Louth County Council supports all victims of child sexual abuse and condemns the current litigation strategy chosen by the Christian Brother order, as illustrated on RTE primetime, the seventh of February 2023.
Furthermore, that this council writes to the Christian Brother leadership team, condemning this litigation strategy and this Council calls upon our members in the Borough District of Drogheda to rescind the Freedom of Drogheda bestowed on the then leader of the Christian Brothers who presided over the order in the instigation of this strategy.”
“I have spoken with alleged sexual assault victims of Christian Brothers from Louth, from all over Ireland and from many countries in the world, and they would all like the same things, and I am asking on their behalf,” Cllr Yore told the Drogheda Independent.
“Rescinding the freedom would be a token on their behalf to say ‘Louth says no’ to the litigation strategy being used by the Christian Brothers”.
Drogheda-born Brother Edmund Garvey was head of the Christian Brothers when the order adopted a litigation strategy based on a Supreme Court ruling in 2017.
That ruling said unincorporated associations, such as religious orders, can't be sued directly and cases must be taken against the members of the order at the time of the alleged wrongdoing.
Orders can select someone to act as its nominee if it chooses to do so, but the Christian Brothers has opted not to do so.
This is within their rights.
Brother Garvey’s successor Brother David Gibson is adopting the same policy in relation to a current case, meaning that if a case is taken against the order, every member at the time must be included.
Cllr Yore says she feels an open discussion on this matter, whatever the outcome, would be in the best interests of the alleged victims.
“I am only the messenger; it's not about me, but I want a fair and balanced discussion about my motion on the council agenda and this is about the survivors wanting this,” says Cllr Yore.
“They know that the former leader has done nothing legally wrong, but they feel what he has done is morally wrong in survivors getting justice”.