Health board inquiry into orphanage

THE Eastern Health Board is tracing former residents of a Co Wicklow orphanage to discover if they suffered physical abuse.

THE Eastern Health Board is tracing former residents of a Co Wicklow orphanage to discover if they suffered physical abuse.

The board said it was receiving the "fullest co operation" from the Sisters of Mercy Order which ran St Kyran's Orphanage, in Rathdrum, until it came under the control of the board.

A nun, now in her 70s, who worked at the Wicklow orphanage previously worked at the Goldenbridge Orphanage in Dublin, where allegations of severe abuse up to the mid 1960s have been made.

The board said the St Kyran's Orphanage now comprises two family group homes" with a total of 16 children, each of whom has a dedicated social worker.

The telephone help line set up by the Sisters of Mercy for former orphans who suffered abuse in the 1960s has received 200 calls so far, the order reported yesterday.

The provincial for the Dublin and midlands area, Sister Helena O'Donoghue, yesterday said they would cooperate fully with any investigation into orphanages where abuse is alleged to have taken place.

She said that about a third of the calls received so far were from former orphans at the Goldenbridge Orphanage. The rest had been from people who had been in other orphanages not connected with the order.

There had been no complaints about St Kyran's Orphanage, where the nun who had served in Goldenbridge Orphanage had been transferred in 1963.

Sister O'Donoghue was asked on RTE radio yesterday about the treatment she received on the Pat Kenny television show on Saturday night when she attempted to apologise on behalf of the order.

She was subjected to abuse by members of the audience, and had to extricate herself from the studio after the show without assistance.

Sister Helena said yesterday "It was not an easy situation. It is understandable. I think I would not be making any further comment."