From the ages of 12 to 17, siblings Mark and David Ryan were repeatedly sexually abused both in and on the grounds of Blackrock College in South County Dublin. Their abusers were from the community of the Holy Ghost Order, now known as the Spiritans and who run Blackrock College in cooperation with lay personnel.
During the 1970s and early 1980s David and Mark were repeatedly abused at various locations on the grounds of Blackrock College, including in the college library, swimming pools, and other buildings.
For many years neither Mark or David spoke of their abuse, until early 2002 when clerical child sex abuse filled the news headlines. This led the brothers to reveal their abuse, first to their parents, and then to one another. They made statements to An Garda Síochána which led to multiple charges being brought against their abuser. Several court cases ensued as David and Mark fought for justice.
Mark, David and their friend Maura Harmon are the first people to openly speak about child sex abuse at Blackrock College.
The number of children who were sexually abused on the grounds of Blackrock College is unknown.
Responding to questions arising out of this documentary Fr Martin Kelly, the current Provincial of the Spiritans, stated:
- Spiritan records now indicate that 233 people have made allegations of abuse against 77 Irish Spiritans in ministries throughout Ireland and overseas.
- In relation to Blackrock College, 57 people have alleged they were abused on the Blackrock campus.
- The Spiritans have made multiple monetary contributions to people who have alleged abuse at the hands of Spiritan community members – and since 2004 the total amount paid by the Spiritans, in settlement of claims of abuse, and towards support services, amounts to over €5 million.
- The Spiritans have made settlements with 12 individuals relating to abuse at Blackrock.
- All settlements have been funded from Spiritan congregation resources.
- 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. This practice arose in circumstances where members did not have the personal money to do so.