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‘Traumatised’ abuse survivor getting loan to pay back redress money

William Gorry hurt by remarks from Caranua chief about survivors

William Gorry: abuse survivor deeply hurt by Caranua chief executive Mary Higgins’s remarks. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

William Gorry (51) has been so “traumatised” by recent comments from Caranua’s chief executive Mary Higgins, that he plans to get a loan and pay the funding he received from the organisation, back.

In an interview with The Irish Times in March, Ms Higgins said some survivors applying for grants from the fund would “never be happy” and that their grievances with Caranua “suit a narrative”.

“It suits a narrative of the ‘big, bad State’ and the ‘big, bad religious congregations’,” Ms Higgins said. “If people feel [disrespected], it’s not because we are nasty or horrible . . . You can’t control people’s experience of what we do for them. We have to face the fact, the damage that has been done to these people is so deep that it doesn’t matter what anybody does.”

She subsequently withdrew the comments “unreservedly”.

Mr Gorry, from Moate, Co Westmeath, however, says he was so deeply hurt that he fell into a “deep, dark place” for several days.

Taken into care

“Reading the comments Mary Higgins made, was like being beaten again in Moate, being told I was useless, worthless, damaged, that I’d never be any good. I just had to go to bed. I cried for days,” he said.

“The thing of ‘never being happy’, of being ‘damaged’ – yes I am damaged, but people like myself would be a lot happier if we were treated with respect. She is a person in charge of an organisation which is about care, and she is making judgments against unfortunate people who have never had a chance to see a happy life and grab it.”

Mr Gorry, who is partially blind, engaged with Caranua in 2014, and received funds for education, counselling, a new bathroom, gym membership and visual aids, to the value of €34,000.

“If I could go into that bathroom and rip the toilet out I would. I’m going to get a loan and pay it all back. It’s the only way I can get my dignity back,” he says.

Caranua cannot comment on individual cases.