Thursday, July 04, 2024

Victims feel ‘free’ following death of Terenure priest accused of abuse

An alleged orchestrator of abuse at Dublin’s Terenure College, who was accused of ‘funnelling’ children to convicted paedophile John McClean, has died, leaving his victims feeling ‘free’.

Fr Adrian Weakliam was buried in recent weeks in north Dublin following a low-key funeral Mass which was attended by several of his victims.

The former provincial of the Carmelite Order in Ireland was not given a typical cleric’s funeral, which would often be attended by bishops and high-ranking members of the clergy.

The funeral Mass was delivered by Fr Michael Troy, the current provincial of the order in Ireland, in the Carmelite church at Whitefriars Street in Dublin.

His death notice – which did not include a photograph – stated that he died on Sunday, June 9, ‘peacefully, surrounded by family and in the care of the nursing staff and community at Gort Muire’ in Dublin 16 and that he ‘will be missed by his Carmelite Confreres’.

There was no option to leave condolences or any messages to his surviving family on the death notice.

Fr Weakliam is the latest physical abuser in Terenure College to be exposed after his death.

The Irish Daily Mail has since unmasked Fr Aidan O’Donovan and Dennis Whitty as alleged abusers at the secondary school during the 1970s and 1980s.

While Fr Weakliam was never accused of sexually assaulting any of the children at the private school, he was physically abusive, often leaving children unable to walk or with long-lasting injuries.

While he was never arrested or charged with any offence, Fr Weakliam was investigated by gardaí after the jailing of serial paedophile teacher John McClean in 2019.

 McClean, 79, the former rugby coach at Terenure College, was convicted of sexually abusing 45 pupils over a period of more than 20 years.

The charges against McClean related to indecent assault and sexual assault committed between 1971 and 1993 when he was a teacher at Terenure College, and all the complainants were pupils at the school.

However, Fr Weakliam’s claims that he had late-term dementia precluded officers from progressing their investigations.

The Mail has spoken with several of Fr Weakliam’s victims who have said they now feel they can get on with their lives.

One man, who went to Fr Weakliam’s funeral, said he feels he is ‘free’ and that ‘a weight has been lifted from my shoulders’

‘I had to watch them bring in his coffin… Then I walked out the door. That was enough for me. He’s gone and now I can go asleep. I still have dreams he’s at the foot of my bed, ready to give me a hiding… But now I know he’s gone and can’t hurt me any more.’

The Irish Daily Mail has also seen a statement given to gardaí by one of the victims of abuse at the hands of Fr Weakliam.

The statement, given to us by the victim with our permission to reproduce it, described what would happen to him when summoned to Fr Weakliam’s office.

The victim explained how they were told to ‘do what they were asked’ by the paedophile priests and lay teachers. When the boys did not allow themselves be abused, they were sent to Fr Weakliam’s office and assaulted, six victims told the Mail.

The excerpt from the victim statement to gardaí reads: ‘Previous statements have outlined a small bit of what transpired between McClean and myself, all of this is true and more. Note: He and Fr Madden were the primary rugby coaches in the school, they both dropped me from their first teams when I was unwilling to “play ball off the field”.

‘I finally had enough, had grown enough, to stand up to it all as in the documented case of being abused in class by Fr Madden. Having witnessed my classmates being sleazily groped by Madden I resolved it wasn’t going to happen to me. I had had enough! I walked away from Madden when he went to feel me; I walked away, sat down ignoring his demands.

‘He leaned and drooled over me reeking of whiskey, cigarettes, bad breath and BO then suddenly squeezed my genitals so hard I nearly passed out. When I called him a ‘f**kin ba***rd’ and elbowed his hands from my crotch he bounced my head repeatedly off the desk.

‘Days later I was called into Fr Weakliam’s office. I had no idea why, until he said: “I heard you are not obeying Fr Madden and Mr McClean and not doing what you are told.” With that, Weakliam locked the door, beat me to a pulp, focusing on my liver, kidneys and internal organs keenly avoiding any visible signs… It took me days to recover from it.

‘With the help of a good therapist I am facing forward… I declare I am no longer a prisoner of my past… I have the chance to walk into a shiny new present free from Guilt, Shame and Regret. Wounded but proud.'