A Donegal man who was the victim of multiple sexual abuse in his early life has called on Donegal supporters visiting the capital this weekend to join his protest at the Pro Cathedral on Sunday in anticipation of the Raphoe Diocese’s report into child abuse.
Speaking to the Donegal Democrat yesterday morning John Deegan who is originally from the Annagary-Loughanure area said: “I am calling on the thousands of Donegal people who will be in Dublin this Sunday to join us in protest at the Pro Cathedral at 10am to register their support against the circle of silence that the church in Donegal and throughout this country has both fostered and encouraged.
“It is not today or yesterday that we began this protest. We have been here every Sunday since last January but felt that with the report due, and the fact that so many Donegal people will be in Dublin this weekend for the match, that we can bring this cover up into the national domain.
“I have been abused myself and it has gone through the legal process and have been in further discussions with gardaí last week. The fact of the matter is that sexual abuse was rampant in our area when I was growing up. It was so bad that frequent visitors that used to come every Summer on holidays with their families stopped coming. They all knew what was going on: it was part of the culture and they were simply afraid that their children would be abused.
“Our main issue is the cover-up which goes the whole way to the very top and is continuing. Nothing has really changed.
“This so-called ‘Raphoe Report’ is nothing but a sham: it is simply an internal report commissioned by the church.
“The church are simply keeping people and victims within the ‘circle of violence’ through fear. Even now when they are on their knees they are still trying to defend it; offering counselling and sham reports is not the answer.
“Do they not realise that they are dealing with serious criminal matters? What it boils down to is child rape.
“They have betrayed the people of this county. I grew up in a very poor house where my parents, like all others in the area, scraped and saved to make sure the parish priest was looked after and what did they give us in return? Nothing but a betrayal of our trust.
“People who genuinely believed in their church and their priests have been devastated and know don’t know where to turn to express their faith: they just don’t know where to turn to.
“This is a traumatic time for many women in Donegal. This has been the unspoken scourge in many townlands in the county for many years. “Maybe our highlighting this scandal today and on Sunday will help people will realise that there is nothing to fear by speaking out, they are not alone.
“For too long people have been whispering but I am stating loud and clear that sexual abuse was rampant in Donegal and no amount of paperwork is going to cover this up anymore.
“For many years the church has used the pulpit to defend their actions and attack us: we have no pulpit but we will make our voices heard.”
Last Saturday, the Bishop of Raphoe, Dr Philip Boyce in a sermon at the Basillica in Knock said: “The church is being attacked from the outside by the arrows of a secular and godless culture, and rocked from the inside by the sins and crimes of priests and consecrated people.”
He added: “The church in Ireland is engulfed in a spiritual dark night, because some of those anointed to preach the word of God and to sanctify, were found to have betrayed the trust placed in them by innocent souls.”
His comments came as the Abused Catholic Children Association of Ireland confirmed its weekly protest in Dublin this week will be directed on Raphoe ahead of the expected publication of a key audit of how abuse complaints were handled. The report from the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church into abuse in Raphoe is to be published shortly following its of the diocese.