Move to extradite man in his 80s to Ireland over alleged abuse at Spiritan school in Dublin

More than 150 people have contacted gardaí about sexual abuse at schools run by religious order

To date, “over 150″ people have contacted An Garda following revelations in the 2022 RTÉ radio documentary Blackrock Boys about sexual abuse. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Extradition proceedings have begun involving a man in his 80s who is accused of sexual abuse at a Spiritan-run school in Dublin, according to An Garda Síochána, which declined to say which country the man was being extradited from.

To date, “over 150″ people have contacted An Garda following revelations in the 2022 RTÉ radio documentary Blackrock Boys about sexual abuse at the Spiritan-run Blackrock College and Willow Park School in south Dublin.

The documentary, produced by Liam O’Brien, included interviews with David Ryan and his late brother Mark about abuse they had suffered at the schools.

Last February a man in his 70s appeared at Dún Laoghaire District Court charged with 23 counts of indecent assault on seven victims. That case is ongoing.


A second accused man died before court proceedings began in his case.

According to the Garda Press Office, “files in respect of 14 victims” have been submitted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions since the documentary was broadcast.

“Investigations in relation to a significant number of victims have been completed as it has been established that the alleged suspects are deceased,” it said.

The Garda response to these recent allegations made against members and former members of the Spiritan Order (formerly Holy Ghost Fathers) is being handled by its Sexual Crime Management Unit, at the Garda National Protective Services Bureau. It deals with all reports of clerical sexual abuse made to gardaí.

Earlier this month it was disclosed that almost 300 former pupils of Spiritan schools have reported being abused in those institutions.

School abuse inquiry: Survivors must wait to see report until after Attorney General reviewOpens in new window ]

This latest update from a Spiritan survivors’ group said that the “vast majority” of those complaints related to Willow Park and Blackrock College. Willow Park is the junior school located on the grounds of Blackrock College, but the abuse complaints also arose from other Spiritan-run schools such as St Mary’s College in Rathmines and Templeogue College in Dublin as well as Rockwell College in Co Tipperary.

According to a statement on the Blackrock College Union website, more than 290 people have made allegations against 49 Spiritan clergy and 12 lay members of staff and involved every Spiritan-run school in Ireland.

About 50 individual restorative justice meetings have taken place to date with face-to-face meetings between abuse survivors and those who currently run the Spiritan congregation.

Early in 2021, a Restore Together group was set up involving the Spiritan congregation and the Blackrock College Union of past pupils.

The group has been employing a restorative justice template, whereby abuse survivors meet the heads of the Spiritan congregation currently running the schools and who have apologised to those affected. The congregation is also funding counselling services for survivors.

The latest update from the union earlier this month also said that the Spiritans should commit to a financial redress scheme. Detailed plans have been submitted to the congregation and their solicitors by Restore Together about how such a redress scheme might be implemented.

Restore Together has stressed that such a redress scheme must be “victim-centred, non-adversarial and trauma-informed”. It added that “no amount of money will ever compensate for a lost childhood”, but a redress scheme should do “full Christian justice to victims and make awards that fully recognise the victims and their suffering.

“To help achieve this, scheme payments should at least match what a victim/survivor would receive in a successful court case,” it stated. The statement concluded that the Spiritan order had not yet finalised the terms of a scheme and had recently said that it was not in a position to say when it envisaged such a scheme would become operational.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times