Friday, May 05, 2006

Heart of Darkness

I’m not always a big fan of Vincent Browne’s journalistic techniques which tend to demonise his targets, or of Mary Raftery who writes a weekly opinion column for the Irish Times and produced the “States of Fear” documentary for RTE, which dealt with alleged child abuse in state industrial schools run by religious orders.

On 3rd May Mary Raftery was a guest contributor on Vincent Browne’s nightly RTE radio programme. The topic under discussion was the current position with the state redress board set up to provide victims of abuse in these institutions with the opportunity to tell their stories in a non-confrontational forum and also to award compensation from the state for their suffering, partly funded through the overall settlement agreed a couple of years ago between the state and the religious institutions.

In the course of the discussion, a text message was received from a man who said he’d been in a Kilkenny institution where a four and a half-year old boy had been “sodomised to death”. Browne invited the message sender to contact the programme by phone or email and a short time later the man came on air by phone.

The man started to relate how this small boy had been sodomised so badly that his entrails were hanging out. As he spoke his firm voice dissolved into a tortured shriek of pain and anguish.

Then he would recover his self-control until the questions from Vincent would cause him to revisit the horrific memory of this small child, when he would once again dissolve into a searing shriek of pain.

It was truly shocking. I suspect it had more impact on listeners like myself than any number of tribunals or media reports could ever achieve. I couldn’t listen to it - I had to physically leave the room and listen from the hallway where at least the volume was somewhat reduced.

I hope that poor man has someone who's looking after him now.

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