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Ex-Brother Says Life Will Never Be The Same Again

The Irish Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2003 by Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent

For Marian and Paul Farrell life will never be the same again, despite the overturning of convictions against Paul in the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday.

They struggled to explain what the past almost six years had done to them. They lost a baby boy, Michael, then aged eight months, in 1990. "It has even been worse than that," said Paul last night. Marian agreed.

Even their obvious relief last night had to be seen against the evil and the damage done. A teacher for 32 years, Paul was recently advised professionally that he had "lost the capacity to interact with young people". If he was in a cinema now and found himself sitting next to a 10-year-old, he would move, he said.

Both find it difficult to enjoy life, or to understand how others can. They attended a concert recently in Dublin City University and everyone was having such a good time. They couldn't be part of it, try as they did. They tend to stay at home nowadays.

They have even developed a habit of "looking ahead" whenever out and about, so anyone who might recognise them could avoid their gaze if they so wished. "We're not part of this country anymore," Paul reflected, "we are marginal."

Paul was suspended when charges were brought against him in August 1998. The allegations were first reported in January that year. When he was convicted in July 2001 he lost his job. He has worked as "an operative" since, here and there.

Marian met Paul while he worked at the Salthill residential institution from where the allegations arose. She used to take children out from there. He left the Brothers and they married 18 years ago.

Both worked together with children in various groups, taking some to Lourdes. For five years they used to take an autistic boy from a foster home at weekends. They loved children. All that had to stop.

"I always believed my husband," Marian said. So did close friends. It helped preserve their sanity.

But they are angry at the injustice of it all. At the DPP for failing to detect flaws in the charges. At the gardaí for failing to investigate the case properly. But, above all, at Judge Pat McCartan who presided at the trial which convicted Paul.

It was found by the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday that Judge McCartan had failed to warn the jury of the dangers where there was no corroborative evidence.

He had failed to raise with the jury credibility issues that followed such a lapse of time between alleged events and allegations being made. He had presented speculation and conjecture as fair comment.

Where their experience of the Irish justice system is concerned, Judge McCartan was "the icing on the cake" said Marian.