A TG4 documentary will be revisiting the historic paedophile scandals in the Diocese of Raphoe next week.
Ahead of the documentary air date on 30th October, Martin Gallagher, who was abused by the late Fr. Eugene Greene has made an impassioned call for a convicted abuser in Gortahork to leave the parish and allow the victims to grieve in peace.
by John McAteer
Gallagher told the Tirconaill Tribune that the presence of the abuser reopens the hurt and trauma visited on the victims every single time they see him and until he leaves the parish they cannot come to terms with the hurt and suffering visited on them in the West Donegal Gaeltacht.
At the same time retired Garda Martin Ridge and victims of abuse in the Diocese have called for a forensic cold case investigation to be undertaken as a matter of urgency to get to the real truth of the facts that saw so many young men abused by Greene and others over many years.
The new documentary embraces the era of three bishops and examines how so many incidents went without being investigated.
The harrowing reliving of the scandals are part of a sixty minutes TG4 documentary ‘Finné’ and will be screened next Wednesday night at 9.30pm.
The producer, Darach Mac Con Iomaire and his team spent lengthy periods in West Donegal in June as they researched the child sex abuse cases in the Diocese.
Martin Gallagher and Martin Ridge are central to the production as they recount on different levels, how the abuses were carried out and covered up and what prompted the Garda investigation that eventually led to two paedophiles being convicted on numerous sex abuse charges.
Mr. Ridge said the cover-up and denials continue to part of the pain of every day life for the victims and he believes that many abusers have not had the confidence to come forward.
“That is why I believe that this diocese needs a ‘cold case’ investigation because that is the only thing that might bring some degree of comfort and healing for the victims.
“These young boys were not only abused in the most horrendous way but they’ve had their lives stolen from them and I fear the Church continues to be in denial of the crimes committed in this country.
“What happened here in Donegal has not been fully uncovered because the supremacy of the Church overcame all else and that is now their challenge to resolve in the name of justice. Until the Bishops confront these facts, there will be no justice for the victims,” he said.
The programme by TG4 is the 5th instalment of the documentary series and examines in depth the career of Father Eugene Greene, believed to be one of the most notorious paedophiles to have operated in the Raphoe Diocese and that of Denis McGinley who had taught for many years at Derryconnor national school.
“I will never forget Fr. Greene”
In a frank interview with the Tribune, Martin Gallagher said: “Fr. Greene raped me when I was a child of twelve and it continued for a whole year. But if the church had dealt with him, I would not have been abused and the same applies to many others. I can never forgive him for his behaviour. What he did could not have gone without notice by his superiors and it is my view that is why he was moved from parish to parish… to continue his evil deeds.
“It was like a virus and these priests were being moved around to spread that virus. If those bishops involved claim they knew nothing about the rape of so many young boys, surely these men should never have been put in charge of this diocese.
“The church had such power over the people, they tried to convince the abused that they were responsible for the crimes and that has not been addressed in any way at all.
“My life and that of many others has been destroyed. Eight young men are buried in Gortahork graveyard and I’m sure there are others who’ve taken their lives because their plight was ignored by the Catholic authorities.
“I no longer have any trust in the Catholic Church but I have my own faith and belief in God. I believe that Martin Ridge and his investigation stopped me from committing suicide and I owe him everything.
“But as long as we have an abuser in our midst my mind cannot rest a peace, and I know others, who feel likewise. I am calling on that man to leave this parish because he is daily reminder to all of us of the extent of child abuse in this part of Donegal.
“I have strong family links to keep me going and without their support I could not survive.”
“Come forward in the name of God”
He continued: “I am calling again on those members of the clergy who might have information about what happened to come forward and reveal to the Gardai their suspicions. That might give some comfort to the victims. The abusers must be named and shamed because that is part of the victims healing process.
“And there is good reason to believe that what has come out in the courts is only the tip of the iceberg. Not for one moment do I think these rapists have gone away… they’ll still be about long after we are dead and buried.
“I beg those with any shred of information to pick up the phone right now and have the common decent and respect for the victim. The instinct of those of us who were abused is that there is information out there hidden away in the denial of reality by members of the clergy.
“I feel the Church has corrupted themselves and cannot be forgiven until the real truth comes out. I owe those f**kers nothing but I want them to have the courage of their convictions and to put the trauma of the abused as the central part of their ministry,” he added.
Ridge recounts downfall of Fr. Greene
The programme revisits so many of Donegal’s most famed landscapes and Martin Ridge takes the production team down those lonely isolated roads where he believes many of the abuses took place.
Ridge recalls on camera that when one of his victims attempted to blackmail him, Greene felt confident enough to call Gardaí to lodge a complaint.
He says: “It was to be his own arrogance which led to his downfall and a 12-year prison sentence — not the Catholic Church. He believed he could report the blackmail and get away with it.”
But he hadn’t counted on a thorough investigation by local detectives who spent months interviewing dozens of victims and collating their horror in statement after statement.
Greene went to Gardaí on December 20, 1997, to make his blackmail allegations. Two years later he faced a series of sample charges relating to the buggery, gross indecency and indecent assault of 26 young boys. He pleaded guilty to 40. The only evidence against Greene was that of his many victims.
Not a shred of paper existed on allegations
Many members of the flock reacted with absolute shock and disbelief when it was revealed that not a single piece of paper existed in Raphoe Diocese records on allegations going back three decades even though complaints had been made against him by parents on several occasions.
Greene would groom his victims, many just eight years old, by offering them drink and cigarettes and teaching them to drive a car.
He would take some of them out to collect turf and allow them to drive his car on the return journey back to the parochial house.
One victim would tell Gardaí later: “It was worse than hell. I felt so alone. I had nobody to turn to. I did want to tell my own dad but I said to myself if I told them they would say ‘No’.”
Fr. Greene was sentenced to 12 years in prison in May 2000 and was released after serving 9 years. after he pleaded guilty at Donegal Circuit Court to 40 sample charges of indecent assault, buggery and gross indecency out of a total of 108 charges.
There were 26 victims most of them altar boys who served Mass with Fr Eugene Greene in County Donegal between 1965 and 1982.
€50,000 raised for Greene
There was uproar from victims when it emerged that former parishioners had collected €50,000 for Greene. Voices of the Faithful, a support group, said the scale of donations to Greene indicated a “most serious state of denial of the most horrific crimes in Donegal”.
In his book ‘Breaking the Silence’ Martin Ridge details investigations into three paedophiles. It outlines his investigation into the abuse crimes of Fr Eugene Greene, schoolteacher Denis McGinley and an unnamed third man against boys in various parishes in west Donegal.
If any place illustrates the depth and depravity of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church and why the community is so angry about it – it is this unlikely corner of the country, where among rolling hills of wild heather, castles and fishing villages, predatory priests terrorised children with impunity for decades.
Ridge recalled in his book how he opened up a can of worms. “Fighting the IRA was a “conflict you could see with your eyes. This one, you couldn’t. It’s worse than the IRA, because it’s like putting a bomb into a child’s mind.”
His superiors were so reluctant to take on sexual abuse cases that Ridge turned a room in his home into an office and bought himself a computer. “They washed their hands of it,” he said. The victims, he added, “were dismissed as if they didn’t matter. The power of the clergy was so strong.”
Breaking the Silence
By the time Father Greene was arrested, Mr. Ridge said, at least 45 men had come forward with abuse accusations.
According to ‘Breaking the Silence’ co-written by Mr. Ridge, victims described how they were forcibly stripped, held down and repeatedly raped so violently that they bled for days afterwards.
Many victims, groomed to such an extent that they believed sexual abuse was part of growing up, developed drinking problems and other addictions. Donegal is riddled with landmarks of abuse, each telling its own tragedy. ‘Finné’ revisits the child sex abuse issues in the Raphoe Diocese next week and victims hope the programme shines a light on the need for a more detailed forensic investigation that might unravel the web of mystery that surrounds the failure to deal comprehensively with the failures of the Church in this Diocese.
Martin Gallagher adds his own footprint to that hope:
“Maybe there is a God up there who is saying to the clergy that it is time to end the misery of the abused youngsters in Donegal.”Tags: