A well-organised paedophile ring involving civil servants, ex-clergy, members of political parties and even gardai infiltrated the child-care system in Ireland.
Now campaigners believe that there were links between the Dublin-based ring and members of a well-organised paedophile ring which infiltrated the child-care system in north Wales, and which was finally exposed and broken up in the mid-1990s.
While the Catholic Church has been vilified in the Ryan Report there are now calls for an inquiry into the role of non-clerical abusers in state-run institutions
The Government has been taking a more severe legal attitude to victims of abuse in State-run schools and other institutions than the Catholic Church has to victims of clerical abuse, they say. The Department of Education has “taken on” one such victim, Louise O’Keeffe, who was raped by the headmaster of her school in west Cork when she was eight years old in 1973. Although former primary school headmaster Leo Hickey was convicted of multiple rape and abuse of children, Ms O’Keeffe was left with a legal bill of €500,000 after the State successfully fought her claim for compensation.
Hundreds of victims of rape and abuse by non-clerical teachers or care workers in the State’s employ have received letters from the Dept of Education threatening that their cases will be fought.
Ms O’Keeffe, the High Court heard, suffered “catastrophic injuries” at the hands of the paedophile rapist Hickey — who nevertheless continues to be paid his State pension of €26,000 a year.
Among the figures identified but never exposed because of insufficient evidence is a retired senior civil servant who would have the power to suppress indictments and reports on sex offenders.
Another is a retired former senior garda in Dublin who had well-known links to senior clergy and who was accused of raping a 13-year-old boy. The garda was transferred from a city station after the allegation but was never questioned or charged.
And at least one senior care worker remained in public employ until the mid-1990s, despite repeated claims by boys that he was an abuser and brought paedophiles from Britain and Northern Ireland to care homes to abuse boys.
Many boys who passed through the state-run homes later became teenage prostitutes. Several have made allegations about a ring of apparently rich and well-connected paedophiles with access to the homes in the 1980s.
In an ironic twist, an Irish woman who has been raising the issue of abuse of children in State-run institutions in Dublin, Loretta Byrne, was effectively forced from her job in the Department of Education in 1988 after she persisted in seeking action about allegations of abuse of boys in care.
Among the boys who claimed to have been raped in the late 1980s was Brendan O’Donnell, who went on to murder Imelda Riney, her three-year-old son Liam, and Fr Joe Walsh in 1994.
One home where Loretta Byrne says there was strong evidence of abuse was Trudder House in Wicklow, which was opened and run directly by the State in the 1970s specifically for Traveller children.
One of the first directors of Trudder House in Newtownmountkennedy was Duncan McInnes from Scotland, who raped and abused dozens of children in the home. He fled the country after complaints were made in 1981. He later died in Canada.
Paedophile David Murray was forced to leave the Sisters of Charity in Kilkenny in the mid-1970s after a boy said Murray had raped him. Rather than report this to the gardai, the Sisters helped Murray find a new job at Scoil Ard Mhuire at Oberstown, Co Dublin, where he worked for several years. Murray is believed to have had links with Welsh paedophiles who travelled between here and north Wales and even found jobs for some in State care homes here. He was eventually convicted of buggery and gross indecency and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in 1997.
By the time he was arrested and questioned in the mid-1990s, Murray had raped and abused boys in a succession of homes here and, it is believed, Wales and possibly Northern Ireland. Details of all this were excluded from the report which concentrated almost exclusively on the abuses in Church-run institutions.
Ms Byrne said: “The Government has been aware of the abuse that went on in state institutions for a very long time. [Judge] Mary Laffoy resigned because the Department of Education would not give her papers. They must release these papers if the victims in these places are to get the kind of closure that the clerical abuse victims have had in the redress process.”
By Jim Cusack
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