Debate on “Findings of False Allegations” Needed: Victim Support GroupCi News, (The Webportal for Christians), December 19th, 2007
A support group for victims of sexual abuse has called on the national broadcaster to discuss the findings of false allegations of abuse, or hand back its licence.
Alliance Victim Support was referring in particular to a book which shows that claims in the bestseller Kathy’s Story are untrue.
Tom Hayes, Secretary of the organisation said he was shocked that Kathy’s Real Story had been ignored by the national media which by contrast had commissioned States of Fear by Mary Raftery and Dear Daughter by Louis Lentin, which made serious allegations of abuse against Catholic religious.
"Given that RTE has a public service remit and has a statutory obligation to provide balance in the shows which it transmits, I believe that not to have a discussion on the findings of Kathy’s Real Story is a shocking avoidance of public service responsibility." he said.
Kathy’s Story (sold in the UK under the title Don't ever tell), is an international bestseller. It claims to document Kathy O’Beirne’s "hell" of sexual abuse inside a Catholic institution.
Mainstream, the Edinburgh publisher, declared in its publicity material. "Kathy O'Beirne spent nearly 14 years under the Magdalene laundry regime. At the age of eight her father called and asked if she wanted to go to the seaside. She was thrilled and ran to the front door only to find a nun waiting for her. She was taken to a Magdalene laundry and didn't return home until she was 21.” The book is a grim account of sexual abuse, beatings and rape.
Kathy’s family have all along disputed the truth of her book. At a press conference in September 2006, seven of her brothers and sisters read out statements rebutting allegations against their father, who was accused in the book of beating and abusing his daughter. They also said she had never worked in a Magdalen laundry but spent some time in St Anne's children's home, Kilmacud; St Loman's psychiatric hospital, Mountjoy prison and Sherrard house for homeless people.
At that press conference, Kathy’s sister, Mary O'Beirne, said her parents placed Kathy in St Anne's children's home for a “brief period” when she was 11. because of ongoing behavioural difficulties.
"Our sister did not have a child [through a rape] at the age of 14 that she alleges died at the age of 10. The anger and frustration we feel at seeing our father branded worldwide as a horrific abuser is indescribable," she said.
In October 2007, former Irish Catholic journalist, Hermann Kelly, brought out the book Kathy’s Real Story which, in the words of the author, demonstrated “that her myriad allegations against innocent people are completely untrue,” however while Mr Kelly has appeared on TV 3’s ‘Breakfast Am’, his book has been largely ignored by the national broadcaster.
Tom Hayes, Secretary of Alliance Victim Support said he was shocked by this.
He said his organisation had spent many years trying to help victims of abuse by campaigning, advocating on their behalf and introducing them to the services they need.
“We, like so many others are absolutely horrified by some of the stories of abuse that have come out in the last number of years”
But Mr Hayes, having read Kathy’s Real Story’ said he was shocked by “the long litany of good people who have been falsely accused before being later found innocent.”
Kelly makes an extremely well argued and factually backed-up case, that the level of claims of abuse exponentially jumped in number once the Government offered money through the Redress Board, allied with a virtually non-existent level of proof, said Mr Hayes.
“The consequence of this is a culture of false allegations meaning that the innocent have been herded in with the guilty abusers, so that many good people have had their lives torn apart and publicly humiliated. This is a continuing appalling injustice. This raises very serious questions about the Redress Board which financially incentivises people to make false allegations yet asks for no proof, save they actually attended the institutions in question. A strong case has now been made that the Irish Taxpayer has also been abused, by this scheme,” he added.
Mr Hayes was shocked that the book and the issues it raises were not discussed by RTE, which by contrast, was happy to “commission and transmit States of Fear by Mary Raftery and Dear Daughter by Louis Lentin, which made serious allegations of abuse against Catholic religious.”
He went on “Given that RTE has a public service remit and has a statutory obligation to provide balance in the shows which it transmits, I believe that not to have a discussion on the findings of Kathy’s Real Story is a shocking avoidance of public service responsibility.
“The Alliance Victim Support Group has been to the forefront to protect the welfare of those who suffered institutional abuse. We are now calling for RTE, the national broadcaster to initiate on air a debate about the finding of false allegations. If RTE refuses to fulfil its obligation to provide balance of the issue of false allegations, it should hand back it license,” he concluded.
The Alliance Victim Support Group was established in 1999 to meet the needs of individuals who were abused as children in Ireland's State-run residential institutions.
Working in conjunction with the National Office for Victims of Abuse in Dublin, it offers access to counselling, educational services, family tracing and other social services for all those who are eligible.