1) LETTER TO EDITOR
17 April 2005
Editor, Irish Times
Dear Ms. Kennedy,
I am enclosing some articles which I have written concerning Mary Raftery and her accusations of child killing and child abuse directed against the Catholic Church.
The Death of Patsy Flanagan
Mary Raftery has accused the Christian Brothers of being responsible for the death of the boy Patsy Flanagan who died following a fall from a staircase in Artane in February 1951. When her "witness" produced three contradictory accounts of the incident (one of which got the date wrong by 5 years), Ms. Raftery tried to square the circle by claiming that a few boys had died in this manner! She produced not a scrap of evidence to support this allegation.
There was an inquest which found the death of Patsy Flanagan to be an accident. Mary Raftery does not mention this in her book. Did she not know about it or did she deliberately conceal this evidence?
Sister Stanislaus and Sister Conception
Mary Raftery has, on several occasions, accused Sister Stanislaus Kennedy of failing to act when she was informed of child abuse in the 1970s in St. Joseph's orphanage, Kilkenny. The social worker who is supposed to have informed her, wrote to the Irish Times to say that he himself was unaware in 1977 that sex abuse was involved and that he only became aware of this in 1995 i.e. nearly 20 years after he is supposed to have informed Sister Stan (Letters page 22 December 1999). This precisely matches what Sister Stan said when Mary Raftery first made her allegation (in the States of Fear series and the book Suffer the Little Children). Yet Ms. Raftery repeats the accusation in her article on 3 March last. She makes a similar accusation against Sister Conception and the late Bishop Birch, in spite of the fact that on 1st March the President of the High Court Mr. Justice Finnegan, specifically exonerated them in his judgment in the case of R. Noctor-v.-Ireland, The Attorney General and Others. (Mary Raftery does not dispute his judgment concerning this issue; she ignores it).
Mary Raftery claimed that Sister Stanislaus had denounced a civil servant on the Kennedy Committee for failing to give credit to the Church for its social work. The three civil servants at the relevant meeting told journalist Breda O'Brien that no such episode had occurred. (One also wrote to the Irish Times to confirm this). This is by no means the most serious allegation made by Mary Raftery. It is important because it can be easily shown to be a lie. And the lie is obviously linked to other tales told by Ms Raftery about Sister Stan and about the Catholic Church.
Brother Joseph O'Connor
A far uglier lie is Mary Raftery's attack on the late Brother Joseph O'Connor who was the Christian Brother responsible for the Artane Boys Band. She claims he was a vicious child abuser. She alleges that a man abused by him was so distraught that he hung around the Mater Hospital for days when Brother O'Connor was dying. He then went into the hospital and lifted the sheet from his body to confirm that Brother O'Connor was dead. BROTHER JOSEPH O'CONNOR DID NOT DIE IN THE MATER HOSPITAL. (The same question arises as with the inquest on Patsy Flanagan - did Mary Raftery not bother to check this extraordinary story or did she conceal evidence?)
I assume that Mary Raftery tells lies about Brother O'Connor for the same reason she tells lies about Sister Stanislaus i.e. they are both well known Catholics and demonising them is a way of getting at the Church.
Mary Raftery's treatment of the Nora Wall scandal in her book is grossly misleading. She fails to state that Nora Wall's two accusers had made a string of rape allegations against various people. Above all she fails to mention the main reason for the collapse of the trial i.e. a man read an article about the case in The Star newspaper and recognised one of the women as the person who had made a false allegation against himself!
I was told by one of Nora Wall's defense team (Sean Costello of Frank Ward and Co. Solicitors) that she had been convicted because of a climate of hysteria created by the media and SPECIFICALLY BY THE STATES OF FEAR SERIES!
Anti-Semitism and Anti-Clericalism
In his book "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich", William Shirer has this to say about Hitler's favourite anti-Semite Julius Streicher:
"A famous fornicator he made his fame and fortune as a blindly fanatical anti-Semite. His notorious weekly Der Stuermer thrived on lurid tales of Jewish sexual crimes and Jewish "ritual murders"; its obscenity was nauseating even to many Nazis".
Ms. Kennedy, if even some Nazis were nauseated by Julius Streicher, what is Mary Raftery doing writing for the Irish Times? Do you believe that anti-clerical hatred is morally superior to the Nazi variety? You will note that they both involve lying allegations of sexual crimes and of child killing.
I intend to distribute this material as widely as possible. If yourself or Mary Raftery feel that any of it is mistaken, please let me know within the next week and I will take your views on board. In the meantime I will send this to the National Union of Journalists only.
11 Lohunda Grove
Appendices:The Death of Patsy Flanagan: Blood Libel and The Christian Brothers - Debate in Sun Independent Nov/Dec 1999
2) REPLY FROM EDITOR
THE IRISH TIMES
The Irish Times Limited, 10-16 D’Olier Street, Dublin 2
Telephone: 6758000. Fax: 6719407
Mr. Rory Connor
11 Lohunda Grove
April 21st 2005
Dear Mr. Connor,
Thank you for your letter of April 17th and its attachments.
I note from your letter your accusation not just that Mary Raftery has been mistaken in much that she has written but that she has written as fact things that were untrue and that she knew to be untrue.
As you are also seeking a response from her, I will pass on a copy of your letter to Ms. Raftery but I will not be responding myself to the points you have made because the allegations are clearly defamatory.
3) MY RESPONSE TO EDITOR
29 April 2005
Dear Ms Kennedy
Thanks for your reply dated 21 April which I received on the 26 th.
I actually sent all of the material to Mary Raftery by registered post on 18 April. I also copied it to the National Union of Journalists as I believe that Ms. Raftery must have breached every article of their Code of Conduct. I have not yet received a reply from her and I am now distributing this material as widely as possible. I understand that the NUJ will only accept a complaint if it comes from another journalist so I am concentrating on journalists.
Yes I believe that Mary Raftery is not just mistaken but is telling deliberate lies. A blatant example is when her "witness" to the death of Patsy Flanagan tells three contradictory stories (one of which gets the date wrong by 5 years). Instead of withdrawing her allegations Mary Raftery tries to square the circle by claiming that more than one boy died in this way in Artane (i.e. by falling from a staircase)!
Mary McCarthy once said about the Stalinist Lillian Hellman : "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'." That neatly sums up my attitude to Mary Raftery.