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Added to on December 3rd 2007

COURAGE: Victims like Christine Buckley spoke out

[The following is an illustration of how future historian's are likely to view one of the main creator's of our current witch-hunt. (Indeed she is second only to Mary Raftery as Witchfinder General). Why is it so difficult to bring this woman to book now? Whatever the reason, it is not a shortage of EVIDENCE that she is lying. It it a shortage of courage by any chance?

Rory Connor
29 November 2007

Extract from "States of Fear, The Redress Board and Ireland's Folly" by Richard Webster

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.***

***  Sunday Times (Ireland), 28 April 1996, citing the views of the surgeon, J. B. Prendiville.
The following is an extract from the Sunday Times article referred to by Richard Webster:

"Medical View 'Inconsistent' with Goldenbridge Abuse

"A senior surgeon who worked at the hospital where children from the Goldenbridge orphanage were treated during the 1950s has said that he cannot corroborate the description of the most severe injury inflicted on Christine Buckley. She claims injuries were inflicted on her by beatings at the hands of Sister Xavieria, the Sister of Mercy nun at the centre of the controversy over alleged abuse at the orphanage.

"Buckley, who was the subject of the Dear Daughter documentary on Goldenbridge broadcast by RTE television last month was among 18 former residents who alleged physical and verbal abuse by Xavieria. Their claims have since been supported by dozens of former residents. But in the medical opinion of J B Prendiville, a surgeon attached to Dr Steeven's, the hospital which treated Goldenbridge children from 1955 until its closure in 1987, Buckley's claim in the documentary that her leg was split open from her hip to her knee alter a beating by Xavieria is difficult to comprehend.

"This has added to controversy over the claims made by Buckley and others against Xavieria. The nun denied abusing the children on RTE's Prime Time programme last week and a number of former Goldenbridge residents have supported her. Now Buckley says she is appalled that the abuse is denied by Xavieria, questioned by medics, and missed as exaggeration some former residents.

"Buckley said she was viciously beaten by Xavieria after it was discovered she had smuggled a letter out to a newspaper with the bread delivery man. The nun, she claims her repeatedly on the legs with a stick, using such force that her thigh burst open from her hip to her knee, leaving a scar that stretched from her buttock to the end of her thigh.

"She says she recalls being brought to the hospital covered in blood. She was treated in casualty, or "the dispensary'' as it was known to the children. She recalls her wound being sutured and dressed — she believed she received 80 to 120 stitches. She was not admitted as a patient to the hospital, and after her wounds were dressed was sent back to the orphanage.

"Prendiville said he cannot recall ever treating a Goldenbridge child with a lacerated thigh. He said an injury needing such extensive stitching would not have been treated in Casualty. Standard medical practice would have necessitated that such an injury would require extensive surgery under a general anaesthetic, and a child with such an injury would have been detained as a patient at the hospital. In his experience, injuries to limbs caused by blunt instruments do not cause significant lacerations, but are more liable to cause fractures and muscular injuries — a medical view supported by R B Fisher, consultant at Belfast City hospital with 10 years experience of treating the victims of punishment beatings.

"As a specialist in soft-tissue injury and burns Prendiville said that such an injury would have been referred to him by medical staff; since it was an unusual case he would have undoubtedly recorded it for academic purposes. But he has no record or memory of any such case although he concedes he might well have been away at the time Buckley's leg injury brought her to Dr Steeven's.

"Moreover, he has not seen the scars she still bears on her leg. His assessment is based on what was the standard practice in the casualty department, of which he was in charge. Neither he, nor three other medics who worked at Dr Steeven's in the 1950s, can recall anything suspicious among the Goldenbridge children who regularly attended the hospital with typical childhood ailments.

"There is no documentation to chart what happened to these children. Medical records were destroyed in a fire after the hospital closed. The doctors are casting their minds back to incidents that happened more than 40 years ago, a time when responses to child abuse were generally muted. And some former residents of the orphanage have emphasised the repeated warnings, prior to hospital visits, that they should lie about the cause of their injuries.

"Buckley's testimony has been supported by dozens of former residents of Goldenbridge and another institution. St Kyran's where Xavieria also worked. The nun herself reportedly wrote to a friend "The allegations all nearly have a basic bit of truth but are blown up to an unbelievable state."

from 'The Sunday Times' (Irish edition) 28 April 1996