From top: Bill Kenneally; Irish Times Weekend cover from last Saturday; victim Paul Walsh, human rights lawyer Darragh Mackin, victim Colin Power and victim Jason Clancy
You may recall how the victims of paedophile Bill Kenneally – an accountant from a well-known Fianna Fáil family and basketball coach in Waterford – want a Commission of Investigation.
They believe senior gardai, members of Fianna Fáil, members of the Catholic Church and staff at the South Eastern Health Board failed to act when told about the abuse.
Kenneally was convicted earlier this year, after victim Jason Clancy came forward in 2012, but Gardaí knew about the abuse as far back as 1985.
Further to this…
Saoirse McGarrigle writes:
Last Saturday, The Irish Times published an article by Peter McGuire in which Mr McGuire asked sex abuse victims, abusers and therapists ‘is there a better way to tackle’ the issue of sex abuse in Ireland.
While journalists are not allowed to speak directly with prisoners in Ireland, Bill Kenneally – who was jailed for 14 years in February of this year – was interviewed through an intermediary.
He pleaded guilty to ten sample counts of indecent assault on ten boys between October 31, 1984 and December 31, 1987.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly handed down a 17-month sentence for each of the charges – prompting his victim’s to describe the sentence as “poetic justice” as, they say, he had a fixation with the number seven.
He would give them amounts of money that always ended in seven – £7, £17 or £27.
The Waterford accountant and basketball coach is now appealing the severity of his sentence.
The article in The Irish Times quoted an intermediary saying of Kenneally, “He grew up with a highly critical father he could never please and lacks any self-esteem.”
Colin Power (45) was abused by Kenneally for three years.
He said: “This is no excuse for abusing children, absolutely no excuse. Everybody has had difficulties in their lives, but nobody can use that as an excuse to abuse children. It’s an easy way out to blame his father. It’s a cop out as far as I am concerned. He caused devastation to all our lives and the lives of our families and friends. What he did will stay with all of us forever. He knew exactly what he was doing.”
The intermediary also says that Kenneally claims he did not abuse after 1987 and that “Bill knows he is a pariah, and he hates himself for what he has done.”
But Colin said: “If he was so remorseful and concerned about the children he abused and the impact on the abused he wouldn’t have waited 30 years until the guards came to him. He is sorry only because he was found out. All this is only a way of helping his appeal. And if he really was genuinely remorseful he would be honest about the amount of boys he abused.”
Since the court case, a number of men have approached the five victims who waived their anonymity; Jason Clancy, Paul Walsh, Barry Murphy, Kevin Keating and Colin Power, and revealed to them that they also were abused.
“He said ten victims and that he stopped after 1987, I can say categorically with absolute certainty that he abused far more than ten boys.”
The father-of-four continued: “I was in SuperValu last night and I met a fella in there and he said ‘you know, I think you’re great’. He told me that he was abused as well and it had an awful impact on his life. He had problems with gambling and drinking. He said to me that this had pushed him to go and sort it out.”
He added: “When we were driving to Dublin to meet MEP Lynn Boylan recently to discuss the case we stopped at an Applegreen on the way and I saw a guy there who was abused as well. You can’t just walk in town without seeing a number of people who have been abused. It’s everywhere – a whole generation of men in Waterford who have been abused.”
Colin continued: “I was just talking to a fella last night. He was also abused, but doesn’t know whether to come forward or not. He has low self-esteem because he hasn’t come forward. He feels like he has to but doesn’t know if he can. And I get that. Looking back at myself this time last year, I don’t know how I would have coped if I didn’t have Jason and the other lads. I wouldn’t have coped without them. Biggest thing for me was meeting up with the lads and talking about it. Feeling that you’re not normal.”
“It’s been an extremely hard thing to do. But I am glad that I have done it. I think before I thought that I was living normally. But I wasn’t. It was an abnormal life. It’s only through getting help that you can work it all out.”
Kenneally also claims that he stopped coaching basketball in 1987 and kept a “low-profile” to evade prosecution for the crimes committed before 1987.
Colin said: “He says that he stopped coaching basketball in 1987, but in 2013 he was definitely still involved in a basketball club. He was even on the committee. He still had access to young people. Sure it was the reason that Jason went to the guards in the first place in November 2012.”
The garda investigation which led to his conviction this year was triggered when father-of-four and local businessman Jason Clancy made a complaint to Waterford Garda Station in November 2012.
While the Book of Evidence states that the 46-year-old was compelled to come forward on foot of the Jimmy Saville case, he says that he told gardaí he did so because he was “extremely distressed” when he realised that his abuser was “still active in a basketball club, which had a predominantly young male membership.”
Kenneally told the intermediary that he “wishes gardaí had done so (prosecuted him) in the 1980s”.
His victims believe this is “more than just a bit ironic”.
Seven men are now pushing for a Commission of Investigation into who knew about the abuse and “turned a blind eye”.
They say that senior gardaí, members of Fianna Fáil, the South Eastern Health Board and the Catholic Church all knew that Kenneally was abusing boys but failed to stop him.
In 1987, he admitted to gardaí that he was handcuffing, blind-folding and sexually abusing boys, but he was let walk free.
Victims say that two boys were getting counselling from a health board psychiatrist for abuse they had suffered, while Kenneally was continuing to abuse others.
Bill Kenneally’s uncle Billy Kenneally, who was a serving Fianna Fáil TD at the time, was the first person superintendent Sean Cashman contacted when a local businessman made a complaint alleging that his son had been abused by Kenneally. He called the politician before he contacted the accused for questioning.
“What we’re looking for is all of this to be investigated and now ironically we have the man at the heart of it all, the abuser who was protected, saying that he even wishes he’d been prosecuted in the 1980s. Basically he wishes that he hadn’t been allowed to walk free for 30 years…so in effect he’s ironically supporting what we’re calling for,” said another victim Paul Walsh (45).
Human rights lawyer Darragh Mackin last month wrote to the Minister for Justice calling for a Commission of Investigation.
He confirmed this week that he has now received correspondence stating that the Minister has “sought the views of the Garda Commissioner on the issues raised.”
The letter also advises the victims that they can refer the matter to GSOC if they wish to “make a complaint concerning Garda actions”.
Mr Mackin said: “We welcome the Minister’s confirmation, that immediate action has been taken.”
He added: “It is however clear that this is only an initial scoping exercise, in the grand scheme of what is required to effectively investigate the systemic issues. We will continue to liaise with the Minister’s Office to ensure that the Gardai, given their involvement, play no part in the investigation given the need for independence to comply with International law.”
Paul Walsh added that he is “anxious” that any investigation that takes place is “entirely independent”.
“The gardaí cannot investigate themselves that just wouldn’t work. We wouldn’t accept that. But also it has to be understood that it’s not just the gardaí that we want to be looked at, the health board knew what was happening to us, so did people in Fianna Fáil and the Catholic Church.”
The victims are set to meet with leader of Fianna Fáil Micháel Martin this Monday to discuss their campaign.
Waterford TD Mary Butler has refused to respond when contacted.
This week John McGuinness, from Kilkenny, became the first Fianna Fáil deputy to pledge his support to their campaign.
“John McGuinness seems very supportive and I hope other in Fianna Fáil will follow suit. This is not political. It’s just a case of letting the truth about what happened to us come out. I met with John this week and he said ‘it’s not just about ye, it’s the ripple effect that it’s had on our families’ and he’s right there it’s had a devastating effect on everybody. My mother asks me all of the time am I ok,” said Colin.
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who called for a ‘border poll’ in the North following the Brexit result
Recent speculation about a referendum in Northern Ireland on reunification of the island has sent a shiver up my spine. A divisive referendum in Northern Ireland alienating both sides further is not what anybody needs right now.
A referendum result in favour of reunification would stress the political system in the South at a time when we need to deal with Brexit in an undistracted way. To paraphrase Augustine of Hippo: Lord, grant me chastity, continence and a united Ireland, but not yet.
The Irish Times called it wrong last night. Their story appeared on the front page for today. “Farage predicted Remain would ‘edge it'”. But now there is no sign of the story on the Irish Times website. Surely they should have kept the story online, for archival purposes if nothing else. The Guardian don’t indulge in this type of nonsense. It’s OK to get it wrong. It’s not OK to cover up….
Jacky Jones writes that “A misogynistic culture pervades Ireland’s maternity services. A highly interventionist, disempowering model of maternity care still operates in all hospitals”.
I have tried to pass over these recurring slurs on our maternity services but the time has come to respond. I am an obstetrician in the Irish maternity service and am proud to provide skilled, compassionate, woman-centred care on a daily basis, day and night, Monday to Sunday.
I am joined by a workforce of dedicated midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists, neonatologists, healthcare assistants, porters, receptionists, domestic staff, administrative staff, and others.
The staff I work with are vocationally driven and do everything in their power to ensure that birth is a safe and joyful experienceand that when adverse events occur women and their families are treated with respect and dignity.
My experience of other maternity services within the country suggests that this approach is widespread.
Sometimes things go wrong in pregnancy and birth, and we grieve for the loss with our patients. Sometimes we get things wrong and we try to learn from these regretted outcomes, as individuals and as organisations.
We are human and flawed – we do not always deal with things as well as we could or should, but to shame our entire service on a regular basis within the media serves no one.
The response to media outrage is to increase the very intervention rates that Jacky Jones is so ready to criticise us for.
Take a look at the hospitals that have been publicly shamed for adverse outcomes and see what has happened to their Caesarean section rates – fear, criticism, and punitive actions result in unnecessary interventions provided under the guise of safety.
I would like Jacky Jones to offer a public apology to all the women and men like myself who provide safe, effective, women-centred maternity care to the people of Ireland.
By all means pursue the cause of safe termination care for distressed women, but to lay the blame at the door of “misogynistic maternity services” is a step too far.
Deirdre J Murphy, MD
Professor of Obstetrics,
Trinity College Dublin,
Coombe Women and
Infants University Hospital,
Carelessly entering a Twitter debate on feminism or sexism as a straight, white male can be a hazardous thing. It’s a bit like wandering into a coop full of angry chickens who have armed themselves with machine guns. They riddle you with bullets, then spit on your corpse and call you a nasty fox.
…Everybody, even the most ardent feminist, knows that most men aren’t lecherous, drooling, breast-grabbing misogynists. That is not the point, they will tell you: all women have been subjected to some sort of unwanted male attention in a pub or at work or while walking down the street. This is probably true to varying degrees. And that is lamentable.
Some feminists clearly espouse that all men are complicit in this activity or are responsible for it in some way, whether or not they engage in it. You may not have slapped any backsides or pulled any bra straps, but you’re a man, the orthodoxy goes, and your collective predilection for dirty jokes causes other men to harass women.
You’re not supposed to object to this stupid proposition. Not if you’re a man. If you do, you’re derailing the debate and bringing the focus back on to your own sorry, privileged self. It’s not about you, Mr Man. It’s about women. Right?
And lo it is come to pass. The hero prophesied in the ancient texts (written by men) stands among us. And as foretold he has raised his voice on high, and standing firmly upon the pinnacle of Mount Irish Times, with his cloak of privilege and probably his pendulous and prodigious testicles flapping in the breeze, he has bravely declared the utterly heartfelt, unique and never before spoken message: “Feminism, you’re doing it wrong.”
Can you feel his compassion for the many female victims of sexual assault and intimate partner abuse?
Can you feel his anger towards the perpetrators of these abuses?
Can you feel his frustration with the unequal representation of women in nearly all areas of governance and social structures?
Can you feel how tenderly and respectfully he reaches out to communicate this to his sisters?
Can you feel his unquenchable desire to work tirelessly to right these wrongs?
I see what I always see when a man cries crocodile tears for the state of feminism. I see a bruised ego that instead of fighting the real and urgent battles I mentioned above would rather fight the rising oppressed under a false flag of friendship.
A two-faced troll with the privilege to view all this as a game of internet argument and semantics. Someone who unconsciously or otherwise understands that equality means the erosion of the unearned privileges he enjoys as a man.
And this is a scary thought; I mean who wants to just give all that up for nothing. It’s pretty sweet after all. But they’re not a monster. They also believe in equality (in an abstract way). So how do they solve this?
They become trojan egalitarians.
I’m sure you’ve met many. They don’t actually want equality. But they can’t admit to themselves that they don’t want equality so they instead take up an unimpeachable position as high-minded, truly objective crusaders for and experts on equality.
Then strangely, they set their sights on what to them is the most important work someone in their position as a high-minded, truly objective crusaders for equality can do; they fight against feminism.
Not patriarchal systems. Not an archaic and ineffectual legal system.
Do you see how clever this is? If you define the rising power of the oppressed as the true enemy of equality then you get to fight it instead of what’s actually causing the inequality.
Meaning you get to simultaneously feel like a good person fighting for equality while at the same time hampering the progress of those who, among others, are actually fighting for equality.
And by doing this you are also ensuring that you can all the while in clear conscience hold onto your sweet little male privilege.
Stillorgan dual carriageway during the recent VHI Women’s Mini Marathon
“Last Monday I was a participant in the “fast jogger” category of the women’s mini-marathon, running with my aunt, a victor over breast cancer, in Dublin on a hot summer’s day.
On three occasions I was exposed to what what I would consider sexism in the form of “motivational” slogans: “Run like you left the immersion on!”, “The N11 never looked so good!” and “Don’t worry, ladies, the hair still looks gorgeous!”
The first two slogans appeared in fabric stretched across the footbridge of the Stillorgan dual-carriageway.
The latter was shouted by a member of the Order of Malta. To my astonishment, most women around me did not find fault with any of these slogans.
In fact, they cheered on the troglodyte and seemed genuinely validated by his creepy flattery.
Are the old concepts of our worth as women so embedded into the female Irish psyche that comments such as these automatically elicit a positive response of appreciation or, at the very least, an embarrassed smile?”
You may recall a post from yesterday about the as yet unpublished but leaked Justice O’Higgins report into allegations made by Sgt Maurice McCabe in relation to the Cavan-Monaghan area.
It included a transcript of a Drivetime report by RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher Hayes on Monday evening, after he secured a copy of the O’Higgins report.
At one point, Mr Boucher Hayes stated:
Another headline Maurice McCabe’s detractors point to is his allegation of corruption made against Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Mr Callinan is “entitled to have his reputation vindicated” and that allegations made against him by Maurice McCabe “were unfounded and deeply hurtful” says the judge. Proof again that McCabe was pointing an unjustified finger of blame.
But in the same paragraph, where this appears, it’s also made clear that McCabe never accused Callinan of corruption – “He had not intended to make allegations of criminal conduct against the Commissioner but rather of an abuse of power only.”
…Anyone reading the accounts of the report that Maurice McCabe withdrew his allegations could reasonably infer that he knew he was on shaky ground in some of the things that he was saying.
On the contrary though it emerges in the transcripts of the commission that Sgt McCabe withdrew one complaint against an officer whom he felt should have been more critical of the shortcomings of a junior officer.
When he was presented with the testimony of the senior criticising his junior, McCabe withdrew the complaint saying that this “was the first time I’ve seen this”.
An editorial in today’s Irish Times states:
The report does not paint a monochrome picture. No one is all good or all bad. There are conflicts of evidence, fact and recollection. Whistle-blower Sergeant Maurice McCabe is described as a dedicated and committed member of the Garda who acted out of genuine and legitimate concerns and was truthful in his evidence.
The corporate ranks closed against him. But his complaints of corruption against senior officers, including former Commissioner Martin Callinan, were described as hurtful and were rejected by the judge. Other complaints were overstated or exaggerated. Some were unfounded and some were withdrawn by Sgt McCabe.