From top: Philip Cairns; Gareth O’Callaghan
Broadcaster Gareth O’Callaghan has been commenting on Facebook on the Philip Cairns case since ‘new evidence’ concerning DJ Eamonn Cooke came to light.
Mr O’Callaghan believes these ‘revelations’ are a distraction and that Philip was the victim of a paedophile ring operating in Rathfarnham, Dublin 14/16.
Mr O’Callaghan writes:
The world that Philip Cairns felt so threatened by for many years is becoming much clearer in recent weeks.
It is a world that continues to get smaller because the people who controlled it are all getting older and dying.
Thanks to a number of individuals who have given me crucial information in recent days, we are slowly threading together a timeline of valuable insights as to what led up to Philip’s disappearance.
There have been many stories and theories in the years that have passed since Philip vanished in October 1986 – as to what might have happened to him. But one fact I have always been sure of is that someone out there knows exactly what happened; and today we are much closer to finding out what really happened.
Much of this is brand new information and I am grateful to those who have been brave enough to share it with me.
What follows here will no doubt be difficult to read if you have been abused by someone in the past. I need to say that at the outset because I am aware that there is information here that will deeply upset many people.
Some will chose not to believe it; others will feel hurt and uncomfortable by memories it will bring up.
Hopefully it might also help some individuals to heal from the pain of a past they have been terrified to talk about through the years.
There was once a time, not long ago, when the Catholic Church believed that it was more important to protect its paedophile priests than to safeguard the innocent children these predators preyed on. For decades the church had lived by its own rules and laws, and its priests remained untouchable.
Because of their seeming invincibility, these priests were joined in their systematic rape and abuse of young children by other ‘pillars’ of society, namely gardai, teachers, swimming instructors, scout leaders, and many other individuals parents naturally assumed their young children were safe in the care of. Within a group of influential people there is guaranteed safety in numbers.
Some of these children died as a result of their abuse, while others ‘disappeared’ because – in deciding that they couldn’t take anymore of the pain – they wanted to tell someone that their young lives were slowly being destroyed.
Sadly the reason they disappeared was because they disclosed their abuse to the wrong person.
I believe this is what happened to Philip Cairns.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Ireland was awash with paedophile rings. Each group was autonomous and anonymous; but each group would have known of other neighbouring rings.
Secrecy and protection were the key words to the survival of these groups and their members, no matter what that protection entailed. If you had to kill to survive, then there often was no other option.
Evidence shows now that the archdiocese of Dublin was home to some of the most vile and violent paedophile rings in the country. Rathfarnham was the home of one of the most secretive and dangerous rings of predators that ever existed.
No one on the outside would have suspected anything of the sort because of its upmarket status back then. Its leafy, wealthy appearance gave the impression of stability and contentment.
It was perfect for the crimes that were committed against children whose lives were threatened if they dared to speak out. Unfortunately Philip was unique in that he was prepared to speak out against his abusers.
In 1971, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid appointed a priest called Patrick Tuohy to Ringsend church in Dublin. Tuohy would remain there until 1973 when he was appointed parish priest of Rathfarnham.
As soon as Fr Tuohy had settled into life in his new parish he started to abuse young boys. Tuohy was a close friend of McQuaid – another low-profile paedophile – who died in April 1973. Tuohy’s appointment to Rathfarnham was made by McQuaid’s successor, Dermot Ryan.
Tuohy set up a newspaper recycling project and encouraged the young boys from the local national schools to get involved. He suggested they collect old newspapers from their neighbourhoods and bring them to a large recycling collector he had installed close to the paraochial house.
He was supported by a number of local businessmen in the project – one of these was a local newsagent who is now dead. A barber has also been mentioned. Also a primary school teacher, a swimming instructor, and at least one garda (possibly three).
The garda, was actively supporting (and protecting) and willingly participating in what was going on behind the scenes, namely the abuse of many of the young boys who had become involved in the newspaper recycling project.
It didn’t just stop at the recycling business. Tuohy, with the help of the other abusers, used every opportunity he could get to groom young boys.
Philip’s abuse would have started around 1982, when he was nine years old. This is usually the age that paedophiles target young children as it’s known as the modelling age when children look for a role model who will influence them and encourage them. Children trust their role models implicitly.
However, by the time Philip had turned thirteen, the abuse was no longer sitting comfortably with him.
He was in a new school. His newly-acquired teenage status was being hindered by the experiences he could no longer bury deep within. He was discovering what it meant to have a consience; and a newly-formed conscience has no space for sexual abuse.
It’s my belief that Philip told someone in confidence about the abuse he was suffering at the hands of Tuohy. It may have been an old teacher from his primary school days. It might have been the local garda, who unknown to Philip was up to his eyes in the abuse ring. Whoever he told then reported back to Tuohy, and from that moment the dye was set. Philip’s fate was sealed.
Philip was returning to school that afternoon when he was stopped by someone he knew, someone who asked him to get into the car for a few moments.
Whoever was driving, I believe, took him to Fr Tuohy’s house where Philip was warned that if he ever talked about his abuse, he would disappear. I believe at that moment that Philip panicked and tried to run from the house.
Whatever men were in Patrick Tuohy’s parochial house that afternoon – It’s my understanding that there were three men present – were the last to see Philip Cairn’s alive. They were the same men who disposed of Philip’s body.
Patrick Tuohy was relieved of his priestly duties within a fortnight of Philip Cairns disappearance by the then archbishop Kevin McNamara.
Clearly damage limitation quickly became a priority. There was no public explanation given as to why Tuohy was being taken out of priestly circulation. He remained on in the parish in some sort of strange pastoral role until his death in 1994.
In order to understand why no one has ever been charged and convicted of paedophile offences against children in the Rathfarnham area it’s important to look at the backdrop politically and religiously in those days.
Herein lies the reasons that a gang of locally respected men who raped and abused local children got away with their disgusting crimes.
The Rathfarnham paedophile gang was heavily protected religiously and politically from outside of their jurisdiction. It consisted of approximately seven individuals. One of them was a political activist who had higher support.
Following the retirement of John Charles McQuaid as archbishop of Dublin, the papal nuncio Gaetano Alibrandi, was left with a dilemma. McQuaid’s successor was Dermot Ryan – a man many regarded as far more liberal and progressive than his medieval predecessor.
Alibrandi, an arch-conservative and protector of the old world of Pope Paul VI, hated the new liberalism of the modern church.
So it’s not surprising that Alibrandi had a very tense relationship with taoiseach Garrett Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald had even asked for Alibrandi to be removed because of his suspected closeness to the IRA and to Charles Haughey. Alibrandi had great sympathy for the provisional IRA.
Alibrandi had greater power than the bishops. He was happy for his paedophile priests to be protected at any cost.
He knew that if his priests were looked after by sympathetic gardai and political activists in the area, then no one could touch them. No one would dare to go up against them and challenge them. The risks would be huge and the cost of being so stupid would be enormous.
Alibrandi wanted the archbishop who succeeded Ryan to be ‘doctrinally sound’ -someone who would put the needs of the church and its priests above everything else, including innocent defenceless children.
He wanted an archbishop who was opposed to divorce and contraception and the the idea of any significant role for women in the church. He ignored the reports that were piling up on his desk that priests were abusing young children. He didn’t care.
The appointment of Kevin McNamara as Ryan’s successor was hopefully going to solve all of his problems. McNamara was one of those conservative old-guards of the traditional church – the same church that ignored child abuse and simply moved the abusers from one parish to another.
McNamara’s fate was also sealed however. Cancer killed him after only three years in office. But by then Philip Cairns had disappeared, never to be seen again.
A number of individuals – both men and women – have contacted me privately in recent days to say they went to Rathfarnham garda station many years ago to report savage abuse they suffered at the hands of the individuals in this paedophile ring.
Their files and statements remain ignored all these years later – locked up in some filing cabinet somewhere in that building – their complaints never investigated.
One woman told me only last week that as a young child she was taken into the Dublin mountains by three local men and repeatedly raped, and then dropped back close to where she lived.
Philip’s disappearance has been used as the ultimate threat that still hangs over the lives of so many of those young people who were abused by this group of men back in the 70s and 80s.
Each of those victims of abuse was told, “if you ever tell anyone what happened, you will end up like Philip Cairns”.
One victim told me this last week. Thirty years later he is still terrified that he will ‘vanish’ and never be found if he speaks out. Such a threat can last a lifetime for so many reasons.
I want to make a special appeal to those of you who read this piece today:
These men – these paedophiles – are dying. They are old now. Back then, they were physically stronger and more influential than they are now. Their ominous threats stand for nothing today.
A small child who is threatened can often still remain in part a small child thirty years later, terrified and frozen in time by the threat of death from someone you were afraid of – someone who is now a very old, frail and frightened man.
The fear young boys felt thirty years ago is now the same fear that a group of men in their late sixties and seventies are feeling.
I was abused in the early 70s and warned that if I ever divulged anything about what happened to me that I would also be killed.
I am still alive despite talking out for years about my abuse. I expect that my writing here today is making a small group of men feel very uncomfortable – the same men who hope that death might come to them before the world finally discovers who they are.
Time has a habit of catching up on these individuals. And that seems to be what’s happening in these past few weeks.
You might have taken Philip’s life, but he hasn’t gone away.
Previously: Philip Cairns And A Trail of Disinformation