Sunday, February 18, 2007

The family reared in hell

It reads like the storyline for a horror movie of unrelenting awfulness, but the Murphy household in Dalkey was no work of fiction.

The clear inference of the testimony, presented to this weeks inquest into the death of a new-born baby in 1973, is that the children were sexually abused by their father and brother, and also pimped to other local men who included at least one member of the gardai.

Peter & Josephine Murphy raised 10 children, including a granddaughter who subsequently committed suicide leaving a 35-page suicide note, which documented claims of being sexually abused in her grandparents house. Two sons are also dead, one by suicide and the other found dead in dense bushes near Killiney DART station , three years after he went missing.

There is one redeeming feature to this story of the family reared in hell: 30+ years after the event, the truth is finally out and hopefully some sense of delayed justice and closure has been given to the surviving victims of the abuse. It will be interesting to see if any charges are brought against the father and brother who have been accused of molesting the surviving girls. Both men deny that they ever raped their family members.

There now remains the need to investigate the role of the local gardai, both in the actual abuse itself and in the failure to act on earlier complaints by Cynthia Owens. Given the time that has elapsed it’s unlikely that anything can be proven against the non-family abusers, but the victims are entitled to have the effort made on their behalf.

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