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Added to on April 5, 2008

QUOTE: "Sister O'Donoghue was asked on RTE radio yesterday [27 Feb 1996] about the treatment she received on the Pat Kenny television show on Saturday night when she attempted to apologise on behalf of the order. She was subjected to abuse by members of the audience, and had to extricate herself from the studio after the show without assistance."

This was the aftermath of the FIRST apology by the Sisters of Mercy. It seems that, after the Pat Kenny Show, Sister Helena was subjected to vicious and sustained abuse by members of the audience and that RTE did nothing to help. The next day Christine Buckley denounced the nuns' apology as "cynical".

The Sisters of Mercy were apologising to people who had told obscene lies about their own members - and in particular about Sister Xavieria Lally.*** It was as if Jews decided to apologise to anti-Semites for the "hurt" they (the Jews) had caused. Such an apology would be treated with derision and contempt and would inspire further attacks by the anti-Semites.

So did the Sisters of Mercy learn anything from this experience? Apparently they decided that their 1996 apology had not been abject enough; the "hurt" experienced by the "victims" was too great and so they apologised again in 2004! This apology was greeted with incredulous delight by Ms. Buckley, Ms. Raftery and Co but - oddly enough - does not seem to have healed the victims' hurt.

I predict that after Judge Sean Ryan issues his report later this year the Sisters will repeat their apologies - or issue a third one. They are literally beyond redemption!

Rory Connor
5 April 2008

*** See "Christine Buckley - The Historian's View" and "Sister Xavieria and 'Child Killing' in Goldenbridge on on 3 and 4 December 2007.

(A) Gardai to Investigate Child Abuse Claims
Irish Times, 26 February 1996, by Jim Dunne

Gardai are to investigate allegations of past abuse of children at Goldenbridge orphanage in Dublin run by the Sisters of Mercy, a Garda spokesman confirmed yesterday. The orphanage was the subject of an RTE programme last week.

The order says it will co operate fully with the investigation. It placed advertisements in Sunday newspapers expressing "deep regret to those individuals who, at any time or place in our care, were hurt or harshly treated".

Ms Ronit Lentin, the wife of the programme's producer, Mr Louis Lentin, said that she received five abusive phone calls on Friday. The callers, all men, said the programme was anti Catholic. They asked her if circumcision was not a form of child torture. Both she and Mr Lentin are Jewish.

Sister Helena O'Donoghue, provincial of the congregation, was approached by hostile members of the Pat Kenny Show audience after appearing on the programme.

A confidential helpline has been set up by the congregation on 1800800-123.

(B) Health Board Inquiry Into Orphanage
Irish Times, 28 February, 1996

The Eastern Health Board is tracing former residents of a Co Wicklow orphanage to discover if they suffered physical abuse.

The board said it was receiving the "fullest co operation" from the Sisters of Mercy Order which ran St Kyran's Orphanage, in Rathdrum, until it came under the control of the board.

A nun, now in her 70s, who worked at the Wicklow orphanage previously worked at the Goldenbridge Orphanage in Dublin, where allegations of severe abuse up to the mid 1960s have been made.

The board said the St Kyran's Orphanage now comprises two family group homes" with a total of 16 children, each of whom has a dedicated social worker.

The telephone help line set up by the Sisters of Mercy for former orphans who suffered abuse in the 1960s has received 200 calls so far, the order reported yesterday.

The provincial for the Dublin and midlands area, Sister Helena O'Donoghue, yesterday said they would cooperate fully with any investigation into orphanages where abuse is alleged to have taken place.

She said that about a third of the calls received so far were from former orphans at the Goldenbridge Orphanage. The rest had been from people who had been in other orphanages not connected with the order.

There had been no complaints about St Kyran's Orphanage, where the nun who had served in Goldenbridge Orphanage had been transferred in 1963.

Sister O'Donoghue was asked on RTE radio yesterday about the treatment she received on the Pat Kenny television show on Saturday night when she attempted to apologise on behalf of the order.

She was subjected to abuse by members of the audience, and had to extricate herself from the studio after the show without assistance.

Sister Helena said yesterday "It was not an easy situation. It is understandable. I think I would not be making any further comment."

(C) Nuns' Apology Described As Cynical
Irish Times, 29 February, 1996 by Uinsionn Mac Dubghaill

A former resident of Goldenbridge Orphanage in Dublin has described as cynical" an apology offered by the Sisters of Mercy following allegations of brutality.

Ms Christine Buckley said she met Sister Helena O'Donoghue in December 1992 to discuss counselling for victims of brutality, but without success.

"I had to chase and chase and still got no response. I only heard [from her] in October 1995 as did all the girls who took part in the documentary, and then she was offering counselling," she said.

The help line set up by the Sisters of Mercy in response to the RTE television documentary is inadequate as it operates only from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to Ms Buckley. "The counselling should be 24 hour counselling at this point. There shouldn't be an answering machine."

She criticised the Minister for Health, Mr Noonan, for comments on RTE radio which cast doubt on the allegations of brutality. "To say that, when we're feeling so vulnerable at this point, is absolutely unacceptable," she said.

"Nobody has phoned me from the Minister for Health's office to ask me could they meet me and discuss this. The Department of Education was in charge, until 1980, of all orphanages. Nobody from Niamh Bhreathnach's office has phoned me. How are they investigating things when they are not asking the victims?"

Responsibility for the alleged brutality did not rest with the nuns alone, Ms Buckley added. "There are lay staff who were equally vicious, and they should be named."

She described as inadequate plans to investigate allegations of brutality at St Kyran's Orphanage in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow. The Eastern Health Board plans to interview five former residents of St Kyran's from each year over a 10 year period. "I think they'd want to be taking at least 30 from each year," she said.

Meanwhile, some former residents of Goldenbridge have confirmed the identity of the nun at the centre of an investigation into physical abuse.

Ms Buckley, Ms Bernadette Fahy and Ms Sheila Doyle told The Irish Times that Sister Mary Xavieria was in charge in the early 1960s when, they claim, they were subjected to repeated beatings and other forms of cruelty and abuse.

Sister Xavieria was transferred to St Kyran's in 1963. She worked there until she retired in 1993.

Sister Helena O'Donoghue, a spokeswoman for the Sisters of Mercy, said she was "deeply distressed" by reports about abuse at St Kyran's. She declined to comment on any individual, as did a spokeswoman for the EHB.

A free phone service for callers about the orphanage goes into service this morning, at 1-800-520-520. The EHB spokeswoman said chat the scope of the inquiry into St Kyran's may be broadened.

Two twin sisters described their experiences at St Kyran's on Morning Ireland yesterday.

"Constant beating, there's no getting out of it, constant beating all day. The only good that came out of it was three meals a day."