Church of Ireland apologises to victims of child abuser

St Patrick’s Cathedral issues statement expressing regret about crimes committed by O’Brien

Patrick O’Brien at Dublin District Court. St Patrick’s Cathedral said it deeply regretted that children were sexually abused by O’Brien, who was treasurer of the independent fundraising body, the Friends of St Patrick’s Cathedral. File photograph: Court Collins.

Patrick O’Brien at Dublin District Court. St Patrick’s Cathedral said it deeply regretted that children were sexually abused by O’Brien, who was treasurer of the independent fundraising body, the Friends of St Patrick’s Cathedral. File photograph: Court Collins.

 

The Church of Ireland has issued a further statement following the sentencing of abuser Patrick O’Brien, apologising “sincerely and unreservedly” to his victims.

On Friday, St Patrick’s Cathedral said it deeply regretted that children were sexually abused by Patrick O’Brien, who was a member of the congregation and treasurer of the independent fundraising body, the Friends of St Patrick’s Cathedral.

The cases of abuse that have been notified to the cathedral date from the period 1978 to 1989.

“The community here is shocked at the enormity of the crimes perpetrated by Patrick O’Brien. These crimes against children have caused feelings of revulsion and immense sadness,” the statement said.

“St Patrick’s Cathedral apologises sincerely and unreservedly for the fact that those victims and their families who needed and were entitled to care and support did not receive this. Once again, it commends the courage of Patrick O’Brien’s victims in coming forward.”

The cathedral said it was committed to ensuring the safety of all children in its care and had fully implemented the Church of Ireland’s child protection policy.

Last week, former dean Robert MacCarthy said he had removed O’Brien from his role as an unpaid volunteer guide in 2004.

While he had no recollection of speaking to Kerry Lawless, one of O’Brien’s victims, in 2004, Dean Mac Carthy added that he had “no doubt it happened”.

From that point on O’Brien “stopped frequenting the cathedral”, he said.

The abuse he was told about “happened before my time”, though he also recalled how a woman in the congregation at St Patrick’s “whose son was abused [by O’Brien], kept on agitating about it”.

O’Brien was charged at the Dublin District Court with sexual abuse of 10 boys between 1977 and 1990, facing 75 counts of indecent assault at numerous locations throughout the State, including at St Patrick’s.