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Archbishop Martin and Professional "Victim" Christine Buckley

(1) Richard Webster on "Dear Daughter"
This is UK cultural historian Richard Webster, writing about one of the ladies, whose feet Archbishop Martin washed on Sunday 20 February 2011. (The Archbishop certainly knows how to pick them!)

“The Irish story then developed in a manner which paralleled the development of the North Wales story. In 1996 the producer and director, Louis Lentin, made a television documentary about abuse in children’s homes which was shown by RTE, the main public service broadcasting station in Ireland. It focused on the brutal regime which was said to have been operating during the 1950s at St Vincent’s Industrial School, Goldenbridge, one of a network children’s homes or detention centres which were funded by the state and run by the Catholic Church.

“The documentary featured allegations made against Sister Xavieria, one of the nuns belonging to the Sisters of Mercy order which ran the home. The woman ‘survivor’ at the centre of the film claimed that, on one occasion, she had been caned by Sister Xavieria so severely that the entire side of her leg was split open from her hip to her knee. She says she was treated in the casualty department of the local hospital and believes that she received 80 to 120 stitches.

“No medical evidence has ever been produced to substantiate this bizarre claim. The surgeon who ran the casualty department at the hospital in question has given evidence which renders it highly unlikely that such an incident ever took place. Apart from anything else, the surgeon points out that caning would not have caused a wound of this kind, which would have required surgical treatment under a general anaesthetic and not stitches in a casualty department. Yet although the evidence suggests that the woman’s memory was a delusion, her testimony was widely believed at the time. In the wake of the broadcast, atrocity stories about Goldenbridge and other industrial schools began to proliferate. [3]”

3. Sunday Times (Ireland), 28 April 1996, citing the views of the surgeon, J. B. Prendiville.

Webster’s essay “States of Fear, the Redress Board and Ireland’s Folly” is an extract from ‘Fragments of a witch hunt’, Chapter 73 of The Secret of Bryn Estyn: The Making of a Modern Witch Hunt (2005).The book is about a child abuse. witch-hunt in North Wales but Webster includes sections on other countries including Ireland

(2) The Sunday Times on Christine Buckley
For the (partial) text of the Sunday Times article referred to by Richard Webster see:
regarding the alleged savage beating of a young girl by Sister Xavieria

In an article in the Irish Times on 1st March 1996, Fintan O’Toole wrote:
“Strangely enough, of all the images in Louis Lentin’s superb documentary film on Goldenbridge orphanage, the most disturbing for me was not one of the violent ones – a child deliberately scalded with boiling water or beaten with a club until her whole leg from ankle to hip burst open. We see so much brutality on the screen that most of us, I suppose, have learned how to shield ourselves from it.”

The Sunday Times did not engage in any difficult feat of investigative reporting. They simply interviewed a surgeon who worked in the hospital where children from the Goldenbridge orphanage were treated during the 1950s. The only reason why O’Toole did not check out this information, is that he did not want to know. The same goes for Archbishop Diarmuid Martin today!

[ The remainder of the Sunday Times article dated 28 April 1996, deals with an allegation (made AFTER the broadcast of "Dear Daughter") that the Sisters of Mercy were responsible for the death of a baby left in their care who had allegedly died of burn injuries. Doctor Prendiville is quoting as saying:
"They didn't treat burns in St Ultan's. If the baby died from a burn, there would have to be an inquest."
The postmortem said the child died of dysentery - which was the kind of illness that St Ultan's children's hospital had been set up to treat. ]


Rory Connor
28 February 2011