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Formation of "Let Our Voices Emerge" (L.O.V.E.)

Group Says False Clerical Abuse Claims Being Made
Rachel Andrews, Sunday Tribune, September 28, 2003

A GROUP made up of Irish people who spent time in religious institutions has alleged that false clerical abuse claims are being made on an "organised" basis.

The group, Let Our Voices Emerge (LOVE), which was formed last week, said its aim was to expose and investigate false abuse claims, on the grounds that they were diluting genuine claims and leading to the "demonisation" of the clergy.

Mary Walsh, a founder member of LOVE, said she was convinced that former pupils of the Good Shepherd Convent in Waterford, where she went at aged two and where she spent 14 years, were taking false claims.

She said that out of a group of 12 women who had stayed in contact with each other and with the nuns over the years, about eight were now taking claims. "We used to talk over the years and say 'Where would we have been without the nuns?'" she said, "and the whole lot of us would visit the nuns and go out with one or other of the Sisters." However, she said once the Commission to Investigate into Child Abuse was mentioned, everything stopped and she was convinced that money became the driving force.

A successful Dublin businessman, who spent time in Artane Christian Brothers School, said he went to the first meetings of Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA) and that many of the people there "must have gone to the Abbey School of Acting". He said one man, whom he knew from his days in Artane, claimed to have been injured by the Christian Brothers.

However, the businessman remembers that the man had actually been taken to hospital for an operation for a congenital problem.

Florence Horsman-Hogan, spokeswoman for LOVE, said she set up the organisation because she had received over 30 phonecalls and letters in recent months from people expressing concern at what was happening.

Now a paediatric nurse, she was cared for by nuns in a home in Ballinasloe and said she was very happy with how she was treated. She said the organisation wanted to give "full support to genuine child clerical abuse victims" but that there was a black side to this issue that people were worried about.

However, John Kelly of SOCA said there were enough penalties to make sure false abuse claims couldn't happen.

"All the genuine victims I have spoken to have said they have put themselves through hell. Why would anyone put themselves through that if it wasn't true?"