ONE of the most shameful and painful periods in Kilkenny ‘s modern history refuses to go away. There are still many unanswered questions about how St Joseph’s Orphanage on the city’s Waterford road was managed and about who knew of the depths of the sexual depravity being inflicted there on innocent young children taken from their families for a myriad of different social reasons.
Now, one of those who still has the scars from the beatings and the mental anguish of the sex abuse perpetrated on him there wants a public enquiry into all aspects of the running of the place. He feels that many people knew what was happening but turned a blind eye or when asked about what they had been told or if there had been complaints made to them didn’t do so.
Noel Walsh thinks that if the facts of the sickening saga of abuse of the innocent were made public earlier or dealt with promptly, the abuse could have been stopped earlier than it was and many victims saved from the terror, torture and suffering.
He has written to the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, formerly asking for a public enquiry into; “what went on at St Joseph’s Orphanage. He has vowed that he will not rest until the whole truth comes out.
He was the victim of Myles Brady, a sadistic and manipulative, serial, sex offender who it has now emerged had committed a a string of child sex abuse offences in England when he obtained a job in the orphanage which was run by The sisters of Charity.
Although Noel Walsh made detailed statements about the abuse, backed up by other residents at the time, no criminal action was taken against Brady regarding his case. He wants to know why. He also wants to know why.
He has been through the High Court and received a settlement for what happened to him but he wants to know why it was allowed to happen and why to this day, the order has never apologised to him for what happened to him in the orphanage run by it.
Many people saw the little children from St Joseph’s Orphanage going up and coming from school and felt something was astray but felt powerless to help them, such was the dominance of those who ran the orphanage and their contacts within the community.
Luckily, many of those with something to say about the abuse perpetrated by three convicted paedophiles, Teresa Connolly, Myles Brady and the infamous David Murray are still alive and willing to talk.
The sad fact is that many of the children abused in St Joseph’s went on to have awful lives. They got hooked on drugs, got involved in prostitution (male and female) many of them had brushes with the law and a number died prematurely, some by their own hand.
Noel Walsh is a survivor and he wants justice for those little children who lost their innocence and their childhoods while being protected by the nuns and their employees.
It emerged some time ago that the nuns who ran St Joseph’s knew as far back as 1954 that children in their care were being abused. Department of education inspector Anna McCabe reported in 1954 that nine girls had been abused by a painter employed by the Sisters of Charity. At the time it was argued by a priest that a court case would bring the convent into disrepute and that the experience would mark the children for life if they were called to give evidence. Following his advice, Ms McCabe agreed no prosecution should be taken.
What is very upsetting now in this recession is that the State has picked up the tab for the compensation to victims of abuse at St Joseph’s under the controversial deal between the then government and the religious orders.
Just to give a flavour of the level of compensation from St Joseph’s in the public domain paid for by the taxpayer: In a judgment on March 1, 2005, the High Court awarded Raymond Noctor €370,000 compensation, one of the highest such figures in an abuse case, following severe sexual abuse by care worker David Murray at St Joseph’s from 1972. Mr Noctor told the court he was raped two or three times a week and was subjected to severe beatings by Murray. Murray would set his Alsatian on him and once attempted to involve the dog in a sexual act.
Mr Noctor said in a statement after the court hearing that the actions of the State and the Sisters of Charity in trenchantly denying the validity of his claim over many years “heaped insult on top of injury”. The Sisters of Charity said they acknowledged that Mr Noctor was abused by Murray and were sincerely sorry for the hurt and suffering he endured.
In a High Court judgment in March 2005, David Connellan was awarded €300,000 following “vicious and demeaning” physical, sexual, emotional and racial abuse over five years at St Joseph’s by female and male carers. In a High Court decision in June, 2003, Michael Delahunty was awarded €75,000 following his sexual assault by Myles Brady at St Joseph’s in 1976. Mr Delahunty, aged 12 at the time, was not a resident at the orphanage but was visiting a friend there when the assault took place. His friend was sent on an errand by Brady, who locked the room door before the assault took place.
“We need to know how much was paid out and i’m sure people will be shocked to hear it ran into millions alone in Kilkenny,” Noel Walsh said.