Posted in Derren's Posts

Posted by Derren Brown May 29, 2009 at 1:00 pm

But please God it will hasten the death knell for this particular organisation, or at least its more revolting aspects. How charming too, that I have to post it under ‘religious matters’…
From The Times
May 29, 2009

An unholy secret that still haunts Ireland 

It’s shame confirmed by an official report, it’s time to pronounce the last rites for the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland

David Sharrock
But even if the will to make amends by seeking genuine forgiveness now exists — and that has yet to be proven — it may be too late. Another report, out next month, will reveal that the activities of hundreds of paedophile priests in the Dublin diocese were covered up. This may deliver the coup de grace.

The Catholic Church and its institutions in Ireland are now so badly damaged as to be devoid of moral authority. Its only possible salvation lies in prostrating itself before the courts of public opinion and natural justice.

A storm is blowing through Ireland, its moral outrage unprecedented in the state’s history. For the Roman Catholic Church and Irish society, its consequences will be profound.

The plain-speaking of one man merits lengthy quotation. Michael O’Brien articulated the rage of a nation this week when he appeared on the RTÉ show Questions and Answers, the Republic’s equivalent of the BBC’s Question Time.

He listened patiently to the answers given by politicians to his question about whether the assets of religious orders found guilty by a commission report of systemic, endemic child abuse should be frozen. Then he let rip.

“I went to the commission and had seven barristers there questioning me, telling me that I was telling lies when I told them that I got raped of a Saturday, got a merciful beating after it and he then came along the following morning and put Holy Communion in my mouth.

“You are talking to a Fianna Fáil man, a former councillor and mayor that worked tooth and nail for the party. You got it wrong. Admit it and apologise, because you don’t know the hurt I have.

“My God, seven barristers throwing questions at us non-stop. I attempted to commit suicide. They brought a man over from Rome, 90-odd years of age, to tell me I was telling lies and that I wasn’t beaten for an hour non-stop by two of them from head to toe without a shred of cloth on my body.

“For God’s sake, try to give us some peace and not continue hurting us . . . Don’t say you can’t change it. You are the Government, you run this state. So for God’s sake, stop mealy-mouthing because I am sick of it.”

Thousands have queued this week to sign a book of solidarity for the victims of abuse at the hands of the religious orders, prompting comments including “Ashamed to be Irish” and “Shame on the Church, shame on the State”.

Every day the letters pages of the leading newspapers burn with fury, calling for the expulsion of the Catholic Church from the education and health system, the dissolution of the Christian Brothers (the worst abuser) and the other orders, seizure of their assets and a boycott of the Church’s Masses, its collection plates and charity shops.

What has emerged in the nine days since Mr Justice Sean Ryan, the chairman of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, published his report — and what is fuelling the nation’s shame and anger — is the scale of the scandalously rotten deal struck between the religious orders and the Fianna Fáil Government in 2002.

On the eve of the calling of a general election it was agreed that, in return for a cash contribution of €28.5 million and a pledge to transfer property to the state that would bring the notional total to €128 million, the Government would indemnify the religious orders for all claims of compensation from abuse victims and all legal costs.

The final bill to the Irish taxpayer for the religious orders’ decades of terror (the commission considered evidence from 1914 to 2000) is now expected to settle at €1.3 billion. Some of the pledged properties, worth far less now, have not even been handed over.

Fianna Fáil’s pleas that nobody knew at that time the extent of the abuse scandal have been demolished. Its capitulation to the orders is eerily reminiscent of the Commission’s observations about 20th-century State collusion in a system built on fear. Indeed, even though it was known that “violence and beatings were endemic”, said the report, the Department of Education had shown “a very significant deference to the Congregations”.

But the anger goes even deeper. It is as if a dam has finally burst, even though the first revelations about widespread clerical abuse began to appear some 15 years ago. The bitter truth is that everyone knew what was going on inside this young, poor but proud nation.

The judges before whom the children appeared, dragged before the courts and found guilty of “having a parent who does not exercise proper guardianship”, knew that they were stripping them of their civil, legal and human rights as they sent them off to spend years in gulags.

The schools inspectors knew; the politicians knew; the locals who depended on the schools for their livelihoods knew; the citizens who sneered and jeered at the “raggy boys” and the “crocodile boys” and the “orphans” as they were marched through Dublin suburbs on Sunday afternoons knew. Even the media knew and kept its silence (with a few honourable exceptions).

Peter Tyrrell, the original whistleblower, was 8 when he was sent to Letterfrack in the 1920s. Haunted by the experience, his campaigning efforts — culminating in an autobiography in which he described his wartime confinement in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp as “a tea party” compared with what he endured in Ireland — ended when he took his own life, burning himself to death on Hampstead Heath in 1967.

Tyrrell’s book was only published in 2006. A year earlier the Christian Brothers had admitted that Tyrrell had visited them in 1953 to raise his concerns and was sent away with the warning that he was “working on the blackmail ticket”.

The commission has retrospectively vindicated not just Tyrell’s experiences but those of thousands more. It identified some 800 abusers. To date fewer than ten have been convicted of their crimes.

“It was a secret enclosed world, run on fear,” admitted one Christian Brother in his evidence to the commission. “It was murder of the soul,” said the author and Letterfrack inmate Mannix Flynn, who rejects the term “abuse” as inadequate.

May 29, 2009 at 1:12 pm
Siobhan says:

I watched Michael O’Brien on Questions and Answers and it just broke my heart,

The abuses that took place in the industrial schools here have, rightly, horrified us all… but still there are those who are telling us that there were ‘good’ brothers.
The majority of Irish Schools are still in the hands of the Christian Brothers, Sisters of Mercy and others who were the guilty of these horrific crimes, and this should no longer be the case.

The Christian Brothers did no co-operate with the commission compiling this report, and they remained in a state of absolute denial until the facts were released and they were forced to backtrack, and offer some halfhearted apologies.

Becuase of a deal made some years ago there is a limit to the financial contribution that these orders will make to the compensation for the many victims – they should be disbanded and their assets siezed by the Criminal Assests Bureau. Every abuser should be named, and have criminal charges brought against them.

I have such absolute respect for the victims who fought for so long to have what happened to them brought to light, they are the bravest of people who deserve some justice, its a shame that it took so long.

May 29, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Scum. Thanks for further raising awareness, Derren. Whole thing is a disgrace.

May 29, 2009 at 1:27 pm
marcin says:

Derren become prejudice against catholic church. This not healthy. The mind shoud be rational always.

May 29, 2009 at 1:54 pm
jameshogg says:

Marcin: the mind is irrational. It learns what it sees whether or not it is objective.

So… why is religion of any use, again?

May 29, 2009 at 1:59 pm
ScreamingGreenConure says:

The Catholic church did it over here in Canada to First Nations children. It’s not just Ireland.
Isn’t it weird how they are so anti-abortion on the grounds of protecting sweet innocent kiddies, yet stuff like this goes on? How do you reconcile that in your head if you’re involved?

May 29, 2009 at 2:05 pm
Shaz - Durban says:

marcin: the Catholic church has destroyed more young lives than will ever be truly known.

May 29, 2009 at 2:09 pm
Alex says:

Just a thought, but wouldn’t these men likely be abusing children whether or not they’re part of the Catholic Church?

May 29, 2009 at 2:09 pm
Paula says:

This just turns my stomach. I mean, I’m not Irish and I’m not Catholic, but it really makes me feel shame that this kind of stuff has been and still continues under the name of Christianity. As a future minister, it makes me remember why I need to be so careful.

May 29, 2009 at 2:12 pm
Amy says:

Sadly this isnt an isolated event, this takes place in many countries across the world (in both religious organisations and others). Think of the horrors many public schooled boys went through like this, and worse. It is a sad state of arrairs and those responsible should be brought to justice no matter what role they play in life.

May 29, 2009 at 2:12 pm
Rachel says:

whilst this is horrific, at the same time, not all members of the catholic church are responsible. the cover-ups (to my knowledge) are mostly by the higher ups.

i do however, agree that the catholic church, or any church, should not have so much power over education and health, regardless of the child abuse that may be present in these systems.

as a product of catholic education (in england), its seems a farce now. the schools that refuse to accept those of other religions or races only narrow the minds of those who attend, and i have seen first hand what happens when teenagers are not fully educated about sex, contraception and are advised against abortion.

child abuse, it seems, will not be the only legacy.

this is not a rant about how much i hate catholicism, or christianity, or any religion, the basic principles do teach us how we can be better people, and live a good life. i just dont believe that the other teachings are quite as relevant today.

May 29, 2009 at 2:18 pm
ScreamingGreenConure says:

Marcin, while I see your point about being rational, and we’re all capable of being prejudiced and therefore we should all guard against it, I don’t think that wanting to see a religious organisation broken up for systematically raping and beating children counts as being prejudiced.
If he thought their hats were stupid-looking or he just hated stories about Saints then I could agree with you. It’s not like this is an isolated incident, though. There was an article here posted a while ago about the residential schools in Canada where similar abuses took place over a number of years, and there’s the recent issue of contraception in the Third World – if someone starts frothing at the mouth because of one priest going rogue then it’s a bit uncalled for, but systematic abuse in various places across the world that’s treated very leniently when it is finally uncovered is really different.
Having said that, I don’t think this is a good excuse to rage about religion being useless. Personally, I do think it’s pretty much useless, but this is a problem in the Catholic church and to generalise it to all religious groups is just bad form.

May 29, 2009 at 2:18 pm
Siobhan says:

@ Alex, the church gave them the power and access to do this on such a large scale, we’re not talking about a few instances here but a systematic abuse over years – you can read the Ryan report online at

May 29, 2009 at 2:20 pm
Kim Chantler says:

Shaz – Although I understand your opinion, I think its important to remember that it isn’t just one faith that has had these sorts of issues before. If you want to go down the route of ‘ruining lives’ then look at every religion…

Also, I think Alex makes a good point. These men would have abused children regardless of where they were stationed. They just used the position of authority to their advantage.

I think the things that have happened are (undoubtebly) shameful and horrific, and I think the denial of such events still to this day are of an even greater crime.
I feel for the victims. I really do.


May 29, 2009 at 2:34 pm
s-a-m says:

What these monsters did to those children over the years is unforgiveable. The name of the Catholic Church has been dragged through the mud, however I believe that the animals who did this would have the same inclinations whether they were members of the Church or not. The Catholic Church should have stood up and protected these kids rather than their abusers, just because they were priests. Child abuse goes on in schools all over the world and there are paedophiles in other churches, the police, teachers, etc, that never get the same publiciy…I think the Catholic Church gets a bad name of being full of paedophiles, however I don’t believe this to be true,instead there are some animals within it (as with any organisation), but due to the unwillingness of the Church to allow prosecution of these individuals years ago, the entire name of the Church has been brought into disrepute.

I attended a school run by the Catholic Church and loved every minute of it. It was not completely run by Priests, but the Priests (and Nuns) we had there were great and there was never any wrong doing on their part. They believed in the children they taught and we learnt so much from them. It breaks my heart to hear the stories of the people abused and how their lives have been destroyed by these men. The Church should have never protected them, as no real man of God would behave in such a way. The Church brought this on themselves by brushing this abuse under the carpet for so many years.

I hope these people get the justice they deserve.

May 29, 2009 at 2:37 pm
Sarah says:

Alex, yes they probably would but the fact they are religious has been used as an excuse to turn a blind eye to what they did. Yet another reason, if any were needed, that anyone who uses an imaginary friend to excuse what they do should not be permitted to be in a position of authority.

May 29, 2009 at 2:43 pm
Alex says:

Indeed, but then many other organisations offer access to children in large numbers.
However, I can only imagine that other organisations would respond differently than the way the Catholic Church has.

May 29, 2009 at 2:49 pm
Trini says:

Michael O’Brien is a neighbour of mine. My mother stopped him on the street the other day and told him she wanted to shake his hand. After shaking her hand he told her ‘I was simply telling the truth’ How one man can remain so humble after such adversity is beyond me.

May 29, 2009 at 2:53 pm
Amiclare says:

I was raised a catholic. Luckily, it didn’t stick, and I’m no longer contagious. My deepest, deepest sympathy to the victims of these horrible crimes, I think they are incredibly brave- it’s hard to stand up and declare an unpalatable truth when so many people are prepared to go to any length to maintain the lie-apparently for the sake of other people,who don’t seem to be able to survive without it.

This gives me hope. Love and support to all those people trying so hard to survive.

May 29, 2009 at 2:56 pm
Siobhan says:

You do have a point but access is only half of the equation, the catholic church in Ireland had total and absolute power. Church law was State law – every aspect of society was so closely tied into the church that they were practically impossible to seperate, they were (and still are) protected (or given special status) by our constitution- many children were taken from their parents on the basis that they had been born out of wedlock, and women who became pregnant could be sent to the Laundrys run by the Nuns (some never left).

With great power comes great responsibility – but here responsibility was absent.

May 29, 2009 at 2:57 pm
Hannah says:

I have read a few books that are written by people with real life experiences of the torture given by the catholic church in Ireland. These people suffered at the hands of priests and nuns who were ment to protect them. it is unimaginable the pain these young children endured. And if they told anyone, they were sent to Insane Asylums were they were subject to medical experiments.
It is gut wrenching to read although insperational at the journey they have been through and come out at the other end.
I agree that not everyone in the catholic religion should be tarred with the same brush, but that those responsible should give answers as to why justice has not been done sooner.

May 29, 2009 at 3:07 pm
Kay says:

My Great Grandfather was a Brother in the Catholic church back in the early 1900s and left because of the abuse of children – he went on to be one of the founders of the Rationalist movement. He wrote several books and articles about the abuse, all of which were banned by the Vatican (oh the powers that the Catholic Church held, and still hold in some respect) and the press refused to publish many of the articles. If that power had not been held back then, the lid would have been blown off this 100 years back and so many would have been saved from suffering. Now, here I am living in Ireland and the world is now seeing what has been known here for years. It breaks my heart.

May 29, 2009 at 3:27 pm
tash says:

that makes me so angry. Thanks for making us aware of it derren. Yeah what use has religion ever been.

May 29, 2009 at 4:12 pm
dale north says:

marcin’s comment is proof if proof were needed that religion ALL RELIGION is brain washing of the gullible, thanks marcin for showin us what your particular brand of religion has done to you, after reading what you have read you STILL refuse to believe it just because you don’t want to, so so sad, excellent brainwashing job, done no doubt at the hands of the catholic church. this same church has for decades played down it’s anti semitism, not to mention the fact that the worlds biggest purpotrator of this, one adolph hitler, was in fact a catholic. say no more!!! ALL RELIGION IS A DESEASE, CANCER OF THE COMMON SENSE. LET’S RID THE WORLD OF THIS MIND ROTTING DRIVEL. again bless you derren for shouting out. it’s amazing just how evil this thing becomes once you have the guts to remove the religious blindfold.

May 29, 2009 at 4:20 pm
ScreamingGreenConure says:

Dale: there’s no need to start foaming at the poor guy, he didn’t even say he doesn’t believe the article. Have a cup of tea and a sit down, love.

May 29, 2009 at 4:30 pm

That sent shivers down my spine ………words fail me 🙁

May 29, 2009 at 4:40 pm
Hannah says:

@ SGC’s comment…. That made me giggle. x

May 29, 2009 at 5:06 pm
Jacqueline says:

Worrying times….abhorrent crimes…

May 29, 2009 at 5:54 pm
KatM says:

This demonstrates so clearly how easy it is for abuses of any kind to develop in an organisation where those in authority turn a blind eye.

May 29, 2009 at 6:27 pm

This is the natural result of building a philosophy and an institution around the idea that morality consists of obedience to an invisible authority figure whose own morality cannot be questioned (and just to test your “faith”–your religious text depicts this god as doing plenty of horrific and terrible things and you are asked to still regard this god as “good”, worship him and obey him). Is it any wonder this kind of organization will attract the worst kinds of people to its authority positions? Is it any wonder it will have a ready source of victims, having convinced them that morality=obedience?

May 29, 2009 at 7:33 pm
Aideen says:

here is a clip of questions and answers mentioned in article, worth a watch, really hits home.

May 29, 2009 at 8:03 pm
Mr Hypnotist says:

Unfortunately this isn\’t just limited to the church, lots of \’cults\’ and organisations and even countries use fear as a control.
As a young, neive boy who went to church to meet friends, I asked about Charles Darwin and about the missing Dinosaurs in the bible.
I was soon bullied by many people there and I eventually left and started to question my faith!
I think myself lucky for escaping and questioning religion, or I could still be there in a world of unhapiness.

May 29, 2009 at 8:08 pm
Byron says:

It’s important not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Personally I always felt that the big questions in life are far too important to leave in the hands of priests and politicians. One must work hard to become free from one’s social conditioning so that one can choose freely.
Yes religion and politics have committed barbarities and these should be revealed not covered up and the guilty brought to objective justice. However don’t forget this: One day we all fall down because our job, or our relationships, or something goes wrong. We might see ourselves as failures and our eyes start to look down towards the ground. At such moments a spiritual person or a piece of writing or a friend will remind us that none of that is important. That we are still alive and before we die we can try again. That our passing through here on earth is a journey not the destination. That is what true religions are there to remind us of: the larger scheme of things and not to take things too personally. These paedophiles are sick and need treatment. Any institution that supports them is sick too and the guilty should be brought to justice too. On the other hand human beings searching for a bigger world is not a search in vain or for vanity. That’s what my experience tells me. And that there’s no time to waste!

May 29, 2009 at 8:27 pm
Ms G says:

Pedophilea .. incest … lots of reasons for its existence.
Being aware of your own lust/fear and acknowledge it, and deal with it the way you were supposed to deal with it. It’s not just priests as we all know. The only ones who truly can always prevend these things from happening are the ones that feel the drive to do those tihngs. Lot of other workers in this field who help to prevend them from happening ..

It’s still happening, not just in the past. Can happen right next to you without you noticing. In the so-called civilized western part of the world.

Reading about those things will make you feel helpless, as it already happened. Let’s hope that if we ever run into something like this in our own circle of friends/family etc .. we will act, that we will notice and will not doubt. The closer it gets to you … the more surreal it will feel, which we weird enough never feel, in a way, with these articles.

May 29, 2009 at 9:32 pm
Aine says:

I watched Michael O Brien and it broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Well done to him for reducing the plámasing politicians to stunned silence.

May 29, 2009 at 9:51 pm
Gavin Hamling says:

Thanks for raising this point Derren,
It’s the truth that people need to hear and read to make them understand about the dark and dismal crap that is going on not only in Ireland and Great Britain but all over the world. It sickens me to the very core to think men of the cloth could do such things to innocent lads. I myself am not a christian, nor any religion for that matter but you grow up thinking these people are the bearers of the lord’s word and they are the most noble and kind hearted people out there and then they pull disgusting and vile stunts like this.

If there really was a God he would have stricken these demons down long before they had the chance to corrupt the innocence of young boys.

This article has further more provoked my mind into believing Science and Logic over Religion.

May 30, 2009 at 12:03 am
giuseppe says:

thankyou for the awareness derren. my heart goes out to those poor souls.

May 30, 2009 at 12:14 am
keith says:

pedophiles and psychopaths all ways tend to gravitate to positions of trust and power ie ; teachers and police respectively church and children’s homes.
the politicians and those in power are and have never been interested in truth or justice.its about image to be seen to be doing the right thing is far more important than doing the right thing to them. why upset the apple cart when im doing so nicely thank you . the catholic church was the greatest intelligence gathering organization in the world and used belief and dogma to control the masses as most governments do we all are laboring under an illusion if we believe that they have our interests at heart.
we must thank the whistle blowers and the people that make the politicians feel uncomfortable and under pressure or any organization for that matter child abuse is rife within childeren’s homes council care and other organizations that deal with vulnerable people whether adults or children.
people are educated to a standard that the people in charge agree to rather tan to a standard that will empower them to be all they can be.
i may come across as cynical but i have spent so many years working in very large organizations dealing with offenders and politicians, educators and as a friend put it they are all little dragons all trying to protect their pot of gold rather than trying to improve society for the greater good

May 30, 2009 at 8:04 pm
Ms G says:

When I first started reading this piece yesterday I first thought it was a story .. the tone reminded me of certain stories .. castles stuff and such … a bit bombastic .. as if it has been presented with a loud voice in front of the citizens of a village …

May 30, 2009 at 10:40 pm
Diana says:

The men that commited those crimes should be punished. I don’t believe that anyone of the child abusers were truly Christians.

They just parade around in the mask of a priest, pretending to carry out ‘God’s work’ but truly they have empty, shallow souls and disgusting, twisted hearts.

Its saddening.

Although I am a Christian, I always put religious authority firgures under scrutiny. It says in the bible that we should not just take things as they are, but to put them to the test.