fROM Gareth o’ Callaghan FACEBOOK 5.11.2016 15.34
“I feel like a ghost caught inside a person I don’t recognise, stuck between this world and another; not wanting to live any longer, but not wanting to die just yet.” If you are a survivor of abuse, then I am sure these words will make perfect sense.
I spoke during the week to a man who was savagely abused by a Dublin priest for five years as a young boy. His name is Noel. Today he is in his fifties, but part of him will always be eight years of age. Noel tried to kill himself twice. Thankfully he is alive today. And hopefully what I am about to write here – the story he has never been able to tell – will help to set him free from the torture, and the awful remorse and guilt he feels, of his past.
It has taken me days to reconcile my reasoning and need for writing this post. It makes for horrific reading. Please be aware of that before reading any further here. The man at the centre of this piece has never been publicly associated with child abuse before now, to the best of my knowledge and research. His crimes against children are undoubtedly one of the greatest and most appalling cover ups in the history of clerical sexual abuse by the hierarchy that existed back then in the Dublin diocese. I am naming him for the first time today. There is a Garda file on him for over fifty years, but it has been permanently ignored and forgotten.
Noel, a victim of this monster, is slowly beginning to live again almost fifty years after his tiny, innocent life was stolen and almost destroyed by a Dublin priest called Des Williams.
In 1959, ‘Father Des’ (as he liked to be known) set up St Kevin’s Boys’ Club in Whitehall, on the sprawling northside of Dublin city. The club drew huge numbers of small boys who loved soccer. Father Des’s interest in soccer was purely a front to disguise that he was a paedophile. Once the club was formed, he quickly set about abusing its young members. Noel’s abuse started in 1968, shortly after joining the club. He was eight years old.
Once the grooming stopped, the abuse started. “Father Des” brought Noel back to a house one night. There were four other men present in the upstairs bedroom. Noel was blindfolded and tied facedown to a bed. He was then raped by the priest, and then by each of the men. This horrific abuse continued for over five years, until Noel turned thirteen. By now it was almost 1974. According to official club records which I have seen, Fr Des Williams was ‘Executive Director of Football’ (and overall owner) at St Kevin’s from 1962 until 1974. His committee appears to have remained largely unchanged during those years. The same few names appear to hold their senior positions in the club during that long period. At first I couldn’t understand why a paedophile ring within a local football could go unnoticed, despite the fact that they were targetting local boys; that was until I delved more deeply into William’s connections and responsibilities.
Des Williams, at that time during the entire 1960s decade while he was abusing young boys at the football club, was personal assistant to Archbishop John Charles McQuaid. McQuaid, it’s understood (and now known), was also abusing young boys at the time; but no one in judicial authority was prepared to take on McQuaid. ‘Father Des’ simply ran home at the end of his disgusting day and hid behind the gates and high impenetrable walls of Archbishop’s Palace in Drumcondra, just down the road from St Kevin’s Boys Club.
A couple of interesting developments took place in 1974. James Kavanagh became the bishop of that area of north Dublin city. Dermot Ryan had become Archbishop of the diocese shortly before this. Ryan was responsible for appointing Kavanagh. There was now huge disquiet in the local area about Des William’s carry on. A number of parents of young boys had gone to Whitehall and Santry Garda stations to report incidents of abuse by Williams. Nothing – NOTHING – whatsoever was done to investigate the claims or the abuser. Instead, James Kavanagh and his boss the Archbishop, once they had become aware of the extent of the priest’s abuse, came up with a plan to take Des Williams clean out of what was becoming a nasty embarrassment for church authorities.
In 1975, Trudder House was opened as a refuge and state-run home for young children of travelling families who, for whatever personal reasons, were unable to care for their children. The young children were taken into care in this huge renovated house set on its own sprawling grounds close to Newtownmountkennedy. It was a very remote location, detached from any source of local contact. When you arrived at Trudder, you were in the middle of nowhere. And you were very much on your own. The guardian and director of Trudder House was the same Fr Des Williams. Another director of Trudder was Duncan McInnes, who went on to rape and abuse the small children in his care, under the watchful eye of Des Williams, who had moved out of Dublin’s northside, and was now living in Trudder House.
McInnes beat his tiny victims with a long strip of plastic garden hose before raping and sexually abusing them throughout his five years at Trudder House. He fled the country after complaints were made in 1981. He later died in Canada in 1990 in his early fifties. Complaints continued to be made during the 1980s to an internal Health Board inquiry but Garda claim they were never informed. It wasn’t until two days before Christmas in 1994, twenty years after Trudder House opened its doors to small, vulnerable children, that the first complaint in relation to sexual abuse was made to Garda. In the investigation that followed, not one member of the long term management at the facility had to answer questions publicly about how they handled the matter of abuse of small children over the years. Galwayman Brendan Kelly was the only person to be convicted and sentenced to seven years in 1998. He remains the only person to be charged with sexual offences at Trudder House.
In 1985, Des Williams was ordained to the position of auxiliary Bishop of Dublin. He was consecrated in Rome by Pope John Paul II that year. His co-consecrator on the day, standing beside the Pope, was his friend and sponsor Bishop James Kavanagh. For many years in the 70’s, after his time with St Kevin’s, Des Williams was the episcopal vicar for finances in the archdiocese. In other words he was commander-in-chief, God’s financial controller, of all the money that rolled into the coffers of a huge diocese with quarter of a million churchgoers who contributed very generously every Sunday to two collections that he had masterminded, namely the SHARE collection, and the collection that gave Dublin priests their wages. Could this be a reason why so many of his unfortunate victims stayed quiet? Or was their silence a result of his vicious violence and his ability to be the perfect Jeckyl and Hyde when it came to his devious ways of attracting young children to him, while hiding behind a bunch of fellow bishops who were untouchable by normal standards of the law, and who went out of their way to protect one of the most corrupt of their species?
Des Williams died in 2006. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin gave the homily during the funeral mass. Martin described Williams as “a loyal and discreet co-operator of many archbishops” The archbishop went on to say “Bishop Des Williams spent much of his life helping those who were disadvantaged and who at times had the right to be angry with society”. Wrong. Having spoken to Noel this week, and also to the best friend of another victim of Des Williams’s who could not talk to me directly because his life is still so broken and shattered fifty years later as a result of what he suffered at the hands of this monster over a five year period when he was a small boy, Williams was clearly only helping himself. He wasn’t helping those who were disadvantaged. He was preying on them while his fellow bishops covered up for him. Archbishop Martin’s final words: “May God reward him for his goodness, may he free him from his sins…”
I have a question here, Archbishop Martin. Who will free up the victims of Des Williams, and Bill Carney, and all of the other predators who masqueraded as devoted followers of a man called Jesus Christ? The same man you spoke so much about in the graceful eulogy you delivered that day ten years ago to a pervert whose cover up was responsible for more suicides than you will ever know. Maybe now, some of those men who innocently fell victims will find a reason to embrace their lives, now that this filthy monster has finally been named. It’s also worth remembering, Archbishop, that Jesus was a Jew. He was long dead before the first Catholic decided to go looking for a role model. The kind but broken individuals who are reading this who have had their lives damaged and destroyed in the past by people you clearly offer kind words to in their demise makes me realise even more that the days of the flimsy Catholic church are numbered.
And I would say this to Noel, who I spoke to during the week, (and also to ‘B’), perhaps life starts today; knowing that you have both shared with me the words that you personally and painfully were never able to speak before now in almost fifty years. To those reading this who still can’t find the strength to see the beauty of life on their own terms as a result of abuse, but hopefully will in time to come: This post is for you. I feel like a ghost caught inside a person I can’t recognise, stuck between this world and another; not wanting to live any longer, but not wanting to die just yet.
DIARMUID MARTIN SPEAKS AT WILLIAM’S FUNERA;
(The Irish Times)
Bishop Desmond Williams: He was “a loyal and discreet co-operator of many archbishops”, recalled the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, in a homily at the requiem Mass for Bishop Desmond Williams (75), retired auxiliary bishop of Dublin, last Monday evening.
Which is such a pity. For what things might have been told by someone less discreet and who had been secretary to Archbishop John Charles McQuaid for 12 years – from 1959 until Dr McQuaid’s retirement – for instance? But “Bishop Des”, as he became known after appointment as auxiliary bishop of Dublin in 1985, was also “the most private of private people”.
Yet this quiet man had an extraordinarily dynamic life which brought him into contact with many people. For instance, in the sporting world – an arena not usually associated with the shy or retiring – he made an impressive contribution.
In 1959 he founded St Kevin’s soccer club in Dublin’s Whitehall, one of the most successful in the country. He helped it expand into one of the largest of its kind in Europe, fielding over 40 competitive teams a week.
Boys from St Kevin’s lined the steps of the Pro-Cathedral on Monday night as his coffin was carried out. While it lay before the altar at the Pro-Cathedral during the requiem Mass, it had just two objects placed on it, Dr Williams’s mitre and a St Kevin’s jersey.
In 1980 he was appointed chairman of the Catholic Social Service Conference, now known as Crosscare, the invaluable social care agency of the Dublin archdiocese. Under Dr Williams, the agency was modernised, updated and expanded, providing help to the poor and marginalised in the city. He had the job for 10 years, though originally appointed for three.
He also had a particular interest in helping the Travelling community and towards that end he set up Trudder House, a residential home for Travellers, in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow. He lived there himself for a while.
This is a horrific story that the Irish hierarchy have been trying to keep under wraps for decades.
Why did Diarmuid Martin preside at this bishops funeral and praise him to the highest heavens?
Did he not check his file in Archbishops House?
Or had the file been doctored?
The Garda come out of this badly too.
Believe me, there are thousands of more cases like this in the Irish Catholic Church.