Thursday, March 09, 2023

Vivienne Clarke

Paul Kennedy, a former Terenure College student, who waived his right to anonymity when he gave his victim impact statement in the trial of John McClean, has repeated a call for a personal apology from the Carmelite order.

Mr Kennedy told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that individual priests were not allowed to apologise.

“Let’s be very blunt about that, because that’s an admission of guilt, their moral compasses are now set by accountants and lawyers. I would love it if somebody from the Carmelites was able to say sorry to me, I’ve had one recent Carmelite sending a text just to say ‘very sad to hear what happened to you’ – that was totally genuine, what a nice man.”

Mr Kennedy said individual former teachers had also contacted him to say that what had happened to him was “very unsettling”. People who were not at fault were prepared to apologise, but not the order.

Comments such as ‘if only we had known’ were very hurtful, he added.

“Oh for God’s sake, people knew, adults walked into the room while McClean was abusing children in Terenure College and they walked out. People in other schools knew. The fact that they’re trying to say ‘ if only we had known,’ was “the most hurtful thing.”

“It would make a big difference to everybody if there was an apology,” he said. “I would like a personal apology. It’s old-fashioned manners, it’s the decent thing. There’s an awful lot of people they’d have to apologise to. You’re talking about hundreds.”

It had not been easy listening to testimonies in court. “Once you open the can of worms, it’s important to get to the bottom, clean it out, this society in 2023 is going to benefit from that.”

“Nobody will know how many victims there were, said Mr Kennedy. Many had locked away what happened to them. It was too late for them. It was too painful to reopen the issue.

“Many had repressed what happened to them. Some other victims had thanked him for coming forward and explained that they had never told their wives or children and would rather “let sleeping dogs lie,” he said.

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