The atmosphere in the idyllic gaeltacht villages of northwest Donegal is like a ‘pressure cooker’ at present as sex abuse victims await the publication of the Raphoe diocesan audit, according to victim John O’Donnell.
The Falcarragh man says he was abused between the ages of nine and 15 by a man who sang in a church choir.
“The doctors’ surgeries are full of victims. The surgeries wouldn’t be half as full if the abuse hadn’t taken place and the doctors’ workload would be less. The psychiatric unit wouldn’t be as full as it is, if it wasn’t for the abuse. The A&E department is full of people who self harm. It is chronic. The abuse that took place is intergenerational at this point, it is going back for years and it is messing up the medical system. Too much abuse happened in Donegal,” he said.
John believes that in the past people came to Donegal to abuse because the county was described “as a back county” and “the wee north.”
He deems himself lucky in comparison to those that took their own lives or are in psychiatric units. “There have been a lot of suicides due to sexual abuse here, there are a lot of people in psychiatric units, I can count myself lucky compared to some people. There should have been people there for these people,” he said.
He believes that the audit is currently being stalled and that the report will be published in tandem with many other countrywide reports. “I am surprised that they didn’t publish it on the day of the inauguration. They will probably publish it on the day of the budget. They will try and get it out on a day of some major event so that it will get very little media coverage but the eyes of the world are on Raphoe,” he added.
On Thursday, November 24, John will be joined by many prestigious people when he launches his new double CD “Donegal Against Sex Abuse.” One of the country’s most famous female singers, Sinead O’Connor, immediately lent her support when she heard the plight of John O’Donnell.
In the near future, John will release a five hundred page book about the harrowing life he led as a child. His mind was solely on the project when he received a song “Pillow of Tears” from Mickey Coleman.
“The song inspired me to release this double CD. I listened to it and I said to myself ‘I have to do something with this’ and then Sinead O’Connor came on board. There is a song from Sinead ‘Last day’ on the CD and she donated it to me,” he said.
When people heard that John was putting the CD together, he received a lot of support from throughout the country. Each time he received a CD or a song list, John listened to each song himself and chose the songs that he thought would be most poignant for the CD.
The double CD, which will be released ahead of Christmas, promises to be a huge hit and the proceeds from the CD will go towards Donegal Against Sex Abuse, a helpline with a fully qualified counsellor will be set up for those who are victims of abuse aound Christmas time.
“I was approached by a fully qualified counsellor who said she would like to work on the helpline. The line will be open a few hours per evening. People will be able to use the line to ring up and talk to someone. Since I went public, people have told me a lot of stories,” he said. K
eynote speakers that John will have on his night are Kenneth Doyle and his brother Patrick Doyle authors of “My Mother from Hell.” Kenneth will make his way from America to be present to speak on the evening in the Milford Inn on Thursday, November 24.
The evening will see a huge night of entertainment as well. Tommy Rosney of Highland Radio will be MC on the evening. The entertainers on the evening will be Trevor and Shannon Loughrey, David Craig, Hugh McClean, The Stubble Brothers, Anthony McBrien, Mickey Coleman, David Oliver, Shunie Crampsey, Pat Gallagher, Ged McMahon, Dave O’Brien, Sinead McNally and Kinbria a singer and songwriter who will travel from America to be present. The backing will be provided by the Ryan Turner backing band.
The CD will be in shops ahead of Christmas and will cost a mere 15 euro to purchase for a worthy cause.