Missionary order apologies for abuse at Cork school by priest

Tadhg Ó Dálaigh remanded in custody for sentenced next month for sexual assaults

The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart have apologised for the hurt caused by one its congregation after he was convicted of sexually abusing two boys at a boarding school run by the order in Co Cork in the 1970s and 1980s. Photograph: Reuters.

The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart have apologised for the hurt caused by one its congregation after he was convicted of sexually abusing two boys at a boarding school run by the order in Co Cork in the 1970s and 1980s. Photograph: Reuters.

 

The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart have apologised for the hurt caused by one its congregation after he was convicted of sexually abusing two boys at a boarding school run by the order in Co Cork in the 1970s and 1980s.

Tadhg Ó Dálaigh (71), of Woodview, Mount Merrion Avenue, Dublin, pleaded guilty earlier this year to abusing one of the boys at Coláiste an Craoí Naofa in Carrignavar in 1982 and 1983

He was convicted by a unanimous verdict of a jury following a two day trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in June of sexually assaulting another boy at the boarding school on a date in 1979.

Ó Dálaigh was back in court for sentence yesterday when Judge Donagh McDonagh heard victim impact statements from both the boys - now middle aged men - about how their lives had been affected by the abuse.

In a victim impact statement, read by investigating officer Sgt Anna Marie Guiney, one victim said his last happy memory was sitting in a friend’s bedroom at the age of 16 without a care in the world listening to ‘Follow You Follow Me’ by Genesis.

His next memory was of going boarding school in Carrignavar and waking up on a Sunday night around Easter in 1979 in the sick bay of the school being sexually assaulted by Ó Dálaigh. He pretended to be asleep until it was over because he went into deep shock.

He sat up afterwards and Fr Ó Dálaigh went and got him a glass of water and dispirin. “He looked at me as potentially to be abused. He looked at me as vulnerable. He saw a boy away from home, vulnerable and alone. It is not something I expected from a priest,” he said.

Later in life he experienced what he described as an emotional collapse. “Part of me felt everyone knew. That has stayed with me. It was difficult to trust, difficult for me to be alone in male company, difficult to go to the doctor or dentist.

“I felt I was going to commit suicide. The court case was incredibly difficult. A lot of friends and family don’t know I am here today. I have no close friends. I have always felt unworthy,” he told the court in his victim impact statement.

He said that it was only with the birth of his son and the sense that his son looked at him and saw a good man that he began to rediscover himself and lose the overwhelming shame he felt for many years. “It is not my shame, it is Fr Ó Dálaigh’s shame,” he said.

Tom Creed SC, for Ó Dálaigh, said his client had served three years in Mountjoy jail after he pleaded guilty in 1995 to ten counts of indecently assaulting a boy at the school in the 1980s.

Mr Creed said that, when interviewed, Ó Dálaigh had admitted sexually assaulting ten boys, one of whom was the second victim in this case - where five guilty pleas were entered in relation to assaults in 1982 and 1983.

During his trial in June, Ó Dálaigh admitted he had abused ten boys while teaching at the school in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and had given a list of his victims to his superiors when they confronted him in December 1995 but he had denied abusing the victim in the trial.

Judge Donagh McDonagh described the victims’ statements as impressive but said he wanted to time to read and evaluate them as he just received them. “I don’t want to rush into this lest any injustice arise,” he said.

He remanded O Dálaigh, a native of Boherbue in Cork, in custody to be sentenced on December 18th.

The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart issued a statement apologising for the hurt caused by O Dálaigh and said they hoped the court process would help his victims put the trauma of the abuse behind them.

“We offer our deepest apologies for the hurt caused and we hope the court process will assist them in some way in dealing with this most serious breach of trust. We are also conscious of the upset which has been visited on the families of those who have been so wrongly abused.

“We again wish to encourage any persons who have concerns in relation to child safeguarding in regard to any member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to contact the gardaí, Túsla and our designated safeguarding person Ms Saoirse Fox.