The Spiritan Congregation has today apologised to all victims and survivors of historical abuse at schools and institutions run by the Congregation.
Accompanying the apology is the pledge that independent experts will be appointed to engage with victims and survivors, and it all comes on foot of the establishment of an independent victim-led restorative justice process.
It comes following discussions and meetings with a group of past pupils at Blackrock College, which began in May 2021.
The group of past pupils said that the outcome of this process is “long overdue” but “welcome”.
“Today represents public acknowledgement of the scale of the wrongs but also the start of a process that can, we believe, help victims to find succour and hope where it has been absent for too long,” they said.
In his apology, Fr Martin Kelly said he wanted to express his deepest and most sincere sorrow to every person abused by a member of the Spiritans, or by a staff member, in any of its schools.
“What was done to you as innocent children was cruel and indefensible,” he said. “We are deeply ashamed of these actions.”
Speaking on RTÉ radio's
* Fr Kelly said the order will cooperate fully if a statutory inquiry is established to investigate sexual abuse cases at schools.
* Fr Kelly also said the order will fund accredited counselling for victims and their families.
* For the past 12 to 18 years the order has spent €300,000 each year on counselling and settlements, he responded when asked how much had been paid out to date.
Fr Kelly said he had been appalled when he heard details of the abuse. It was a tragedy that the abuse had not just affected those who had been abused, but it had also had an impact on their families, many of whom had gone to great efforts to send their sons to what were regarded as the best schools only for them to be abused.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that more than 230 people had made allegations of abuse against the congregation which is connected to some of the country’s most prestigious boarding schools.
The Spiritans confirmed that its records indicate 233 people have made allegations of abuse against 77 Irish Spiritans in ministries throughout Ireland and overseas.
Both Blackrock College in South County Dublin and Rockwell College in Tipperary are under the trusteeship of the Spiritan Education Trust. Other schools under its trusteeship include Templeogue College, St Michael’s College and Holy Family Community School.