Abuse victim’s brother plans altar protest during Easter Sunday Mass

THE brother of a man abused at an industrial school is planning an altar protest during communion at one of the biggest Catholic churches in the country on the most important day in the church’s calendar.

Kevin Flanagan, whose late brother Michael was a survivor of the Artane Industrial School in the 1950s, plans to lead protesters to the altar in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral during the 11am Mass on Easter Sunday to lay children’s shoes as symbols of the children hurt by priests and religious-run institutions.

“There is still a lot of denial in the church. These people still don’t know, still don’t understand, still use this argument that it was only some priests [who abused],” he said.

Michael Flanagan was 14 when a Christian Brother attacked him with a sweeping brush, breaking his arm. The incident gave rise to a Dáil debate in 1954 after the Brothers refused to let the boy’s mother see him and a local TD asked the then education minister to intervene.

Despite the publicity, there was no inquiry and the Christian Brother who carried out the attack was moved to another school.

The Ryan Report on institutional child abuse last year highlighted the case as an example of the order’s failures towards the children in its care.

Kevin Flanagan said his brother was traumatised after his experiences in Artane and drank heavily, dying alone in England at the age of 59.

He believes the Ryan Report did not go far enough in its criticisms.

He also says the hierarchy have failed to respond adequately to the subsequent Murphy Report into abuse by priests in the Dublin Archdiocese.

“We’re calling for an international criminal investigation into the Catholic Church in Ireland. We need investigators from abroad to come in and get the full story. I have a petition with 5,000 names of people supporting that call.”

Mr Flanagan said his protest would be peaceful but it was intended to be noticed. “I’m asking everyone in the congregation to join in and if people can’t make the Pro-Cathedral, then they should tie shoes to the railings of their own local church.”

The Pro-Cathedral is the parish church of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and his predecessor, Cardinal Desmond Connell, who has yet to speak publicly about the Murphy Report’s criticisms of his time in charge of the Dublin Archdiocese.

The archdiocese said it hoped people’s right to worship would be respected. A spokeswoman said: “The diocese has ongoing discussions with survivors groups and their issues and concerns are well known to us.”

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