Speaking at an event to mark the sixtieth anniversary of Gormanston College on the 23rd October 2014, Fr Hugh McKenna, OFM, Minister Provincial of the Franciscans in Ireland said:
“As we look back over the years, we must also acknowledge the shameful reality that at times we failed some of our pupils and the families that sent them here.
The criminal acts of abuse by Ronald Bennett, a member of the Franciscan Order, on repeated occasions, and over many years, meant that innocent pupils were profoundly harmed. I am acutely aware that for these survivors a celebration such as this may seem offensive.
On behalf of the Franciscan Order I want to apologise unreservedly to each and every survivor for the pain and harm inflicted on those who suffered abuse while under the care of the friars. I apologise for the breach of trust and the suffering victims and their families endured. I also know that no apology of mine can ever be sufficient. I acknowledge with deep shame that the Franciscan Order failed you.
I want to extend an invitation to anyone who has experienced abuse in our college to make contact with us – if and when they feel ready to do so. We have left cards at the back of the Church with contact details for our designated liaison person and of support services that are available. Details are also on our website, franciscans.ie”
If you have any concerns about child Safeguarding or wish to report a historic incident of child sexual abuse involving the Franciscan Friars please contact:
Designated Liaison Person: Tom O’Donnell at 087-2687209 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Designated Liaison Person: Br Niall O’Connell at 01-6742541.
Counselling support is available from Towards Healing at Freephone: 1800 303416 (Rep. of Ireland); Freephone: 0800 0963315 (Northern Ireland and UK).
23rd October 2014.