Child Sexual Abuse At Blackrock College Dublin
New allegations have been brought forward regarding physical and sexual abuse of underage pupils across Ireland, specifically at Blackrock College, Dublin.
In an investigation carried out by Garda Siochana’s sexual crime management unit, 233 allegations of institutional child sexual abuse have been pledged against 77 members of the Spiritans Catholic order.
The Spiritans are a Catholic religious order who runs several famous schools, one of which is Blackrock College, Dublin. Known for producing some of the most prominent sports stars, politicians, and businessmen Blackrock College is just one of the Catholic Order’s schools, others namely being St Mary’s College, St Michael’s College, and Templeogue’s college.
It was in these schools – not only in Ireland but also in Africa – where some of the boys told tales of their experiences. Of these experiences, the Spiritans Order has already been confirmed to have paid out £4.4 million in settlement cases since 2004.
But it was an RTE radio documentary that first paved the way and gave a platform for the harrowing stories of physical and sexual abuse to be told. Mark Ryan and David Ryan, brothers who attended Blackrock College throughout the 1970s and 1980s described how they were assaulted, groomed, and abused by Fr. Tom O’Byrne. The accused priest had used the school computers and swimming pool facility to lure his victims.
“That’s part of the grooming, being chosen made to feel special,” Mark said.
This account began to ring true, as many other reports were filed describing similar events. In a piece written by John McManus on November 14th, 2022, we are privy to a first-person account of the events.
“In Kenya, we had pretty much unlimited access to the school swimming pool. In my two years in Blackrock, despite being a keen swimmer, I was never once in the pool. Hearing now the central role swimming seemed to have played in the harrowing tales of abuse that have emerged, I found myself wondering if somebody somewhere in the school wasn’t trying to close a stable door.”
But this wasn’t the only thing of peculiarity that struck the author. A priest whose name escapes the writer, we are told about his obsession with asking questions surrounding the boy’s masturbation habits. Simply telling the priest that they hadn’t masturbated required follow-up questions and examination.
Fr. Tom O’Byrne was just one of the many abusers within the Spiritins Order. He was a priest originally from Limerick who had spent some time as a teacher in various schools around the country, before landing at Blackrock in 1967. It was there that he carried out his abuse, which was easily hidden as he lived on the grounds.
It was only in 2002, thirty years after the incidents, that Mark (38) and David (40) finally reported the abuse to the Gardai. Fr. Tom O’Bryne was still living on the grounds at the time of the police report.
“I’ve never had an apology.” Mark commented.
The principal of Blackrock college, Alan MacGinty said, “It is a shameful period in our history which is deeply regretted.”
Spiritan Superior, Fr. Martin Kelly said in a statement made in November 2022, “What was done to you as innocent children were cruel and indefensible. We are deeply ashamed of these actions.”
It is thought that out of the 77 members accused that are part of the Spiritan Holy Order, six of them were teachers at Blackrock College, Dublin. At a school that holds the same prestige as Eton College, the reputation of the school is in serious turmoil – many people starting to believe that Blackrock College will be wanting to distance itself from the Order.
When asked if the Order had a paedophile ring, A Spiritan spokesperson said, ‘As far as we know now, all six were abused separately. Others might say that they were a group.’ However, the spokesperson was unable to confirm that a paedophile ring was and is currently not present within the order.
Another religious order in Dublin, the Jesuits launched a redress scheme in January 2022. After the order had received almost 150 allegations against 43 priests – paying out $7.4 million to 78 different people.
Koffels Solicitors & Barristers are proud of the work we do and the groundbreaking results we obtain for our clients. If you are a victim of institutional child sexual abuse, we believe we can give you the support and advice on obtaining proper compensation for which victims are truly entitled. Please do not hesitate to contact us on our secure encrypted form. Alternatively, you may contact Mr Koffel confidentially on 02 9283 5599.