August 2011

Disgraced order in spotlight again as new horrors emerge

Brother Ambrose, also known as James Kelly (pictured)

James Kelly, the notorious Brother Ambrose. He was jailed for 36 yrs for his crimes at Our Lady of Good Counsel school in Lota, Co Cork, in 1999, but was released after serving just three years.

FRESH questions have been raised about the extent of child abuse by the Brothers of Charity after the emergence of new evidence of horrific conditions at a home in Cork run by the order.

The Irish Independent has obtained hundreds of pages of documents about the dreadful living conditions of vulnerable children in the care of the congregation at Lota residential facility in Glanmire, Co Cork.

But it is understood that the documents were not made available to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, which condemned the Brothers of Charity in the 2009 Ryan Report.

It begs serious questions about how many other documents detailing horrific abuse may have slipped under the commission’s radar.

Lota has hit the headlines over the past 15 years as a result of shocking sexual abuse perpetrated on dozens of pupils there.

Two men came to typify the brutal exploitation of youngsters in the 1950s and ’60s who were entrusted to Lota’s care.

Brother Ambrose, also known as James Kelly; and Brother Eunan, also known as James Redmond, were both convicted of a horrific catalogue of abuses against children as young as 10.

Br Ambrose (85) was described as “an evil monster”. He later admitted he lost count of the number of youngsters he had abused over more than 20 years. One victim said that they had been subjected to “a reign of sexual terror” in the facility.

But the voices of mentally handicapped youngsters who were resident there have never been heard.

The Ryan Report devoted an entire chapter to the home, but lamented the lack of documentation available about living conditions at the facility.

However, the Irish Independent has now seen almost a decade of daily records kept by staff, outlining the distressing details of life in Lota in the 1970s and ’80s.

These reveal institutional abuse as well as a litany of other problems such as vermin, flooding, lack of heating and chronic sickness.

This poses serious questions about the Brothers of Charity’s disclosure of documentation to the commission.

In reply to specific questions about the disclosure, the religious order said that the public sessions of the commission were on public record, and it would be inappropriate for them to reveal the nature or detail of private, confidential sessions involving individual applicants.

The commission was unable to explain why the records were apparently not obtained prior to the publication of the Ryan Report.

While institutions such as industrial schools were inspected and the reports left contemporary evidence about diet and living conditions, the Ryan Report said that “no such documentation exists for Lota”.

Lota management was contacted last week seeking a response to the content of the records and whether they were disclosed to the commission.

The Congregation of the Brothers of Charity was condemned in the strongest terms in the Ryan Report.

It concluded that the Brothers of Charity had put the reputation of the congregation above the safety and care of vulnerable children.


Paedophile priest granted early release

A retired Roman Catholic clergyman at the centre of one of Ireland’s most notorious church-linked child sex abuse affairs has been released from prison.

James Kelly, also known as Brother Ambrose, of the Brothers of Charity order of the church, was freed from the Curragh prison, in Co Kildare, in line with an order issued by Cork Circuit Criminal Court earlier this month.

Kelly, 77, was jailed for a total of 36 years in 1999 for sexually abusing boys in his care back to the 1950s. He was later sentenced to two other shorter terms for separate similar crimes, and he has also been convicted in a British court.

The former cleric is to be held at a secret address after an agreement between his legal team, the Irish State and a judge at the Cork court. When he was was initially jailed for offences involving young boys, Kelly’s prison term was the longest imposed for child sex abuse in Irish legal history.

A review of the longer sentence later controversially reduced it on the stipulation that Kelly was kept at a safe address and that he should also stay out of Ireland for the rest of his life, but the Cork court last week accepted that was not possible.

Publicity surrounding places where it had been proposed to send Kelly resulted in the authorities being unable to send him to Brothers of Charity addresses in Britain or Belgium.

It was agreed between the state, the defence and the court that the location where Kelly is to be housed from today would be known only to them. Victims of the priest have protested at the court decision.