Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spina bifida victim beaten by nun

I told a lie and the nun beat me repeatedly with scissors': Child abuse victim reveals his horror past
By Catherine FeganLast updated at 6:21 PM on 20th May 2009

Abused: David Lane said one nun forced boys to hit other boys when they were naughty
David Lane bites his nails so much that he has to wear false tips.
Despite almost fifty years spent biting, the pain of the past can’t be eaten away.
The 54-year-old is one of the countless victims who suffered horrific abuse while in the care of an order of nuns in one of Ireland’s former children’s institutions.
David Lane was born 1955 in Trim, Slane and after being diagnosed with spina bifida, his mother, who already cared for a large family, had no choice but to put him into care.
He was admitted to St Joseph’s orthopedic unit in Coole, Co. Westmeath on 11 February 1956 when he was only a few months old and left the institution on 15 October 1973.
‘I spent all of my childhood under the care of an order of nuns called the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul,’ he says.
‘It was run by nuns, a lot of them were very nice and attentive and caring. There were a lot of good nuns, but of course, there are some bad apples in every group.’
More than 40 years on, the memories of the ‘few bad apples’ still haunt him.
‘The abuse was widespread.’ he says.
‘Most of us got it and there were some extremely tough times, some of the abuse was physical.
‘There were two teaching nuns, one of them was like mother Theresa, and everyone loved her. The other was very harsh, if you did anything wrong, she dealt out the punishment.

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‘She used to call us up to the front of the class and because she had arthritis she wasn’t able to hit us properly with the stick, which was shaped like the thick end of a pole cue.
‘Because she wasn’t able to carry out the beatings herself, she would call up another boy and get him to hit the other child. We were all aged between 10 and 13 at the time.
‘If she deemed that the boy she called up hadn’t done a good enough job at hitting the other one, she would get another boy up to beat him as well. In the end you had three to four boys getting hit in front of the whole class. You wouldn’t believe what went on.’
Angry scenes: Kevin Flannigan (left) and John Kelly from the group Survivors of Child Abuse, protest at not being allowed into the launch of the long-awaited Child Abuse Commission report in Dublin
Mr Lane, who now lives in Wolverhampton, is a member of the executive committee of the West Midlands-based Disabled Survivors of Child Abuse, a support-group for victims who suffered physical cruelty while in institutions in Ireland.
‘Disabled children got it particularly bad,’ he says.
‘The ones who couldn’t stop themselves from bed-wetting were put into ice-cold baths as a form of punishment. They didn’t know any better, but it made no difference.
‘By the time I was 14 or 15 the abuse wasn’t as bad and my last few years there were my happiest because abuse had stopped by 1971.
‘When I eventually left in 1971 it was a bit of a wrench for me. We had become a family at that stage and I wasn’t being abused anymore.’
When asked how he deals with the day-to-day flashbacks, Mr Lane says he is determined to move forward.
‘I have to carry on with life,’ he says.
‘I still bite my nails today because of what happened and I have to wear false ones. I told a lie one day and the nun in question took me aside and beat me repeatedly with a pair of scissors. Those memories don’t leave you.
‘Aside from the horror, there were positive aspects. The lay teachers were brilliant and there were a lot of good people. I learned how to play music and despite what happened I would consider myself to be very articulate. It wasn’t all bad. But this report drags up a lot of bad memories, things that you want to put to rest.’
Mr Lane featured in Mary Raftery's three-part documentary States of Fear, examining the history of Ireland's abuse cases, but now feels that it is time to move on from the past.
‘I feel that this report is long over-due and I am pleased that the findings have come out, but it’s time to forgive and forget.
‘I am a Catholic. I go to Church and this has made my faith stronger. What happened wasn’t the fault of the Catholic Church, it was the bad apples in the Church who are responsible. The government of Ireland are just as culpable.’
A detailed catalogue of child abuse
The a shocking report by the Child Abuse Commission has identified more than 800 individuals who were physically or sexually abused while they were children in the care of Ireland church and state-run institutions.
Here are some of the findings from the report:
At Lota, a residential school for boys with special needs run by the Brothers of Charity in Glanmire, Co Cork, there were deeply disturbing accounts of sexual abuse of vulnerable children by religious staff.
In addition, the indifference of the Congregational Authorities in addressing the issue facilitated the abuse in Lota for many years.
Failings: Lota in Co Cork where children were sexually abused by Brothers of Charity in Glanmire
In one case, a Brother who was known by the Congregation to have abused in England and was known to the police there, was brought back to Ireland and assigned a teaching position in Lota, where he worked for over 30 years.
This Brother admitted to multiple sexual assaults of boys in the school.
The circumstances of his return to Ireland and the handling of allegations against him whilst in Lota are a serious indictment of the Brothers of Charity.
The Brothers have admitted that abuse took place but, as in the case of other Orders, they have not accepted Congregational responsibility for it.Ferryhouse, in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, was the second Industrial School owned and managed by the Rosminian Order.
It opened in 1885 and was certified for 200 boys. The extent of sexual abuse in this institution was as serious and disturbing as in Upton.
Two religious members of the Rosminian Order and one layman were convicted of sexual abuse of boys in Ferryhouse.
Another religious who served in Ferryhouse was convicted of a crime committed elsewhere on a boy who had previously been a resident of Ferryhouse and who was then living in another Rosminian institution.
These three religious offenders served in senior positions in Ferryhouse and the layman was a volunteer there for different periods of years between 1968 and 1988.
Daingean Reformatory, Co Offaly was the only boys’ reformatory in the State for most of the relevant period and was managed by but not owned by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
The physical abuse of boys in Daingean was extreme. Floggings which were ritualised beatings should not have been tolerated in any institution and they were inflicted even for minor transgressions.
Children who passed through Daingean were brutalised by the experience and some were damaged by it.
Apart from a cruel regime of punishment, Daingean was an anarchic Institution. It was run by gangs of boys who imposed their rules on the others and the supervision by the religious Brothers and Priests was minimal and ineffectual.
Serious questions were raised about two Brothers who were in the school for long periods but in general allegations of sexual abuse were concentrated on abuse by older boys.
The gangland culture fostered the development of protective relationships between the boys and these relationships sometimes developed a sexual aspect.
The boy seeking the protection had little option but to comply with the demands of the older boy and the authorities were dismissive of any complaints.
Paedophile John Brander, taught children in the primary and secondary school sector in Ireland for 40 years.
He was eventually convicted of sexual abuse in the 1980s.
He began his career as a Christian Brother and after three separate incidents of sexual abuse of boys, he was granted dispensation from his vows.
He progressed through six different schools where he physically terrorised and sexually abused children in his classroom.
At various times during his career, parents attempted to challenge his behaviour but he was persistently protected by diocesan and school authorities and moved from school to school.
Complaints to the Department of Education were ignored.

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