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'Sex abuse cleric ruined our lives', claim victims

A PRIEST who groomed and sexually assaulted students at a prestigious Irish boarding school was warned his abuse destroyed the lives of victims and left them suicidal.

Fr Tadhg O Dalaigh (71) was told by one victim, who is now middle-aged, that he had "abused his oath as a priest, abused his position in the school and abused the trust of parents.

"It is not my shame - it is Fr Tadhg O Dalaigh's shame," he said.

Both victims told Cork Circuit Criminal Court the abuse had destroyed their childhoods, left them suspicious of men and wrecked both their future family lives and mental health.

Both men also admitted that the abuse ultimately left them feeling suicidal.


"He took away my belief in God and religion. I was left scared and disorientated. I was very, very ashamed about what happened. I was shocked... I became hyper-vigilant over my own [children]. My world view now is that everyone is a potential abuser," one victim said.

Fr O Dalaigh, who served a three-year prison sentence in 1999 for abusing another boy, was warned by Judge Donagh McDonagh in Cork Circuit Criminal Court that he might face a further custodial sentence.

The cleric was remanded in custody until December 18 for sentencing for the indecent assaults on the then 14 and 16-year-old boys to allow medical and psychological reports to be studied.

He was convicted last June of indecently assaulting the 16-year-old boy while teaching at Colaiste Chroi Naofa in Carrignavar, Co Cork, in 1979.

However, the retired cleric had previously admitted to indecently assaulting 10 other teens at the school - even supplying a list of names to his superiors in 1995 when confronted.

Fr O Dalaigh was convicted by a jury despite denying assaulting the 16-year-old by masturbating him while he was in sick bay in the boarding school on a date between March 1 and April 30, 1979.


The retired member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart had earlier pleaded guilty to five charges of indecently assaulting another teen at the school.

That boy was 14 years old when the abuse took place in a school dorm and in a hallway. He was one of the 10 names listed by Fr O Dalaigh in 1995.

The cleric, with an address at Woodview, Mount Merrion Avenue, Blackrock, Dublin, admitted abusing 10 boys at the Cork school between 1969 and 1974 and between 1977 and 1985.

However, the retired cleric had repeatedly insisted he never abused the 16-year-old boy involved in the Circuit Criminal Court trial.

"I don't know if he was abused or not [in Carriganavar] but I certainly did not abuse him. Maybe someone abused him but I certainly did not," he added.

Fr O Dalaigh admitted during his trial that his behaviour in the 1970s could be described as "grooming" of young boys.

He said he remembered all the boys he had abused.