Pope should acknowledge trauma inflicted on children

By Maurice Garvey

WHEN The Echo met Catholic Church abuse victim Darren McGavin in 2014, we asked what he would say if he met his abuser today – Fr Tony Walsh – described in the Murphy report as “the most notorious child sexual abuser” to have come to its attention.

At the time, McGavin said he would “probably give him a hug and say, you poor bastard”, but times change, and after undergoing further therapy to address the horrors of his childhood, the former Ballyfermot man would find it hard to do such a thing today.

20180815 143057

Darren McGavin - "I'm not anti-God, I'm anti-paedophile"

“I have done a lot more work on myself in therapy and would find it hard to hug and forgive him,” said McGavin (46), a father of three who lives in Citywest with his partner.

“People expect you to get over things, but it’s still quite raw and I still get nightmares. Maybe someday I can meet him but I don’t understand why he did it to me and others.

"If it was because he had some sort of sickness I would be in a better position to process it.”

Ahead of the Pope’s visit to Ireland later this month, McGavin has urged the pontiff to acknowledge the trauma inflicted on hundreds of children by Fr Walsh.

McGavin (46) was abused by vile ‘singing priest’ Tony Walsh between the ages of seven to 12 (1979-1985) whilst he was in De La School, Ballyfermot.

In many cases, Walsh came into a class that was in session, whispered something into the teacher’s ear, and summoned McGavin outside to abuse him, either in Walsh’s parochial home, or on car trips.

During his interview in 2014, McGavin recounted how Walsh identified that he came from a troubled home on Thomond Road, and set about grooming him.

Made me feel special

“He tasked me with being an altar boy and showed me love and affection at first, giving me lemonade. He made me feel special.

“Walsh saw marks on me from my father, who used to beat me, and was clever to know nobody would believe me if I told. It quickly went from sexual abuse to rape – a minimum of three times a week.”

The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation found it likely Walsh – who was stationed in Ballyfermot from 1978 to 1986 – had abused hundreds of children during his career.

Elvis impersonator Walsh is currently in prison, having been convicted for abuse of children in multiple cases and is not due for release until 2023.

After the abuse, Darren struggled down a spiral of drug abuse before seeking help spiritually and holistically.

Darren is still receiving counselling for his trauma, and has also undertaken a number of counselling courses as part of his plan to help other victims of abuse.

He was one of 23 Ballyfermot lads who attended a “meet and greet” with the much-loved local activist Angela Copley, who passed away in May.

“Angela’s door was always open,” said Darren.

“I knew her for over 20 years. She supported Ballyfermot survivors in court everyday. I want to get that group going again.

"We’re looking for a room in either the resource centre or the civic once a week, and want to bring in specialists from different groups to help people.”

He claims to know of nine people in the area who committed suicide after being abused by Walsh.

“I want people to acknowledge, that in the past, the media has portrayed people in Ballyfermot as heinous, barbaric, downright malicious and calling them addicts scumbags.

"These people now want to interview me this week. I’m a recovering scumbag and addict but I’m not the same person anymore.

“Let’s not judge. I don’t condone bad behaviour, but at the end of the day, that addict is somebody’s son.”

He continued: “I’m not anti-God, I’m anti-paedophile. The Pope is head of the Church and has a duty to his flock. A lot of people’s faith was destroyed by his foot soldiers.

“If he needs to do something, he needs to do it now. I am willing to go on the plane with him to Knock if he wants.

"In the past when I have been hurt, all it took was for someone to say sorry. That in itself can bring closure.”

Prev Weedkiller scare after €253m court judgement
Next ‘Perfect storm’ for the homeless on horizon

  • eBeauty - Victoria Secret Runway ready
  • Double gold medal winner at the EYOF Rhasidat Adeleke receives a huge welcome home
  • ebeauty - Turquoise Glam
  • Rhasidat Adeleke strikes gold for second time at European Youth Olympics Festival
  • Tallaght Athletic Club's Rhasidat Adeleke speaking after winning gold

We use cookies to improve your experience on our site, personalise content, provide social media features, analyse our traffic, show you relevant advertising and to target and report on ads. By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies that may process personal data for these purposes.