- 07 Nov 22
The Spiritans in Ireland, also known as the Holy Ghost Order, has paid more than €5m in abuse settlement claims and support services since 2004.
The Spiritans, otherwise known officially as the Holy Ghost Order that runs Blackrock College, have reportedly paid over €5 million in abuse settlement claims in the last 18 years.
The organisation in Dublin has confirmed, reports RTÉ Social Affairs & Religion Correspondent Ailbhe Conneely, that 57 people have alleged they were abused on the school's campus, with a huge sums of money paid in settlement claims and support services since 2004.
The Holy Ghost Order said 233 people had made allegations of abuse against 77 Irish Spiritans in ministries throughout Ireland and overseas.
In relation to Blackrock College, 57 people alleged they were abused on the Blackrock campus and the Order has made settlements with 12 people relating to abuse there. All settlements have been funded from Spiritans congregation resources.
The order confirmed the settlement figure to RTÉ Radio 1's Documentary on One programme, after two siblings spoke about abuse they suffered at Blackrock College during the 1970s and early 1980s.
The brothers are the first to openly speak about the child sexual abuse they suffered at Blackrock College, where the older sibling began his secondary education in September 1973, RTÉ has said.
During the older sibling's first year, one of the teachers gradually began to sexually abuse him after singling him out. The priest who abused him was a Holy Ghost/Spiritan father.
The abuse took place during private swimming sessions at the pool on the school campus. Another priest from Blackrock College also began to abuse the boy, who did not tell anyone about it.
His younger brother was 12 when he first began swimming sessions with the first priest that abused his older sibling on the grounds of Blackrock College. Over the next number of years, he was also repeatedly sexually abused.
Neither brother spoke of their abuse, until early 2002 when clerical child sex abuse dominated news headlines. The brothers spoke of their abuse to their parents and then to each other before making statements to An Garda Síochána. This led to multiple charges being brought against their abuser.
By then the Spiritan priest was 82 years old and still living on the grounds of Blackrock College. He denied the charges made against him and launched a legal case, seeking to halt criminal proceedings.
In 2007, the courts decided that the criminal case against the brothers' abuser should be halted. The Holy Ghost father died in 2010, having never had to face trial.
In 2012, the Spiritans issued a general apology having been heavily criticised in an audit reviewing child protection practices. This audit also detailed how serial abusers within the Spiritans/Holy Ghost Order went undetected and unchecked, giving them unmonitored access to children during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
The brothers' stories will be broadcast at 6pm tonight (November 7th) on RTÉ Radio 1, when the documentary Blackrock Boys will be aired during the final hour of Drivetime.
The current Provincial of the Spiritans, Fr Martin Kelly, told RTÉ that the order had made "multiple monetary contributions" to people who alleged abuse at the hands of Spiritan community members.
Fr Kelly also said it has been the practice of the Spiritan congregation to cover legal fees incurred by its members in connection with their legal representation in criminal cases in situations where members did not have the personal finances to do so.