The questionable tactics used by Scientology linked rehab firm on Irish drug addicts

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Originally published in the Sunday World, 01/04/2018

A controversial drug rehab firm linked to Scientology uses high-pressure sales tactics to get addicts to sign up to its £18,000 detox programme

Cult-linked Narconon, who plan to build a €5.6 million rehab centre in a small village in Co Meath, flew two staff members to Dublin within days of being contacted by our undercover reporter, who was posing as a drug-user looking for help.

In a special investigation, the Sunday World found how staff placed huge pressure on the self-confessed ‘addict’ to sign up to their controversial detoxification course.

They even advised our undercover reporter to get into debt using her credit card to pay for the expensive programme.

She was urged to immediately walk away from her job and partner during a meeting at a Dublin cafe.

She received a total of 54 texts and 11 phone calls in just 24 hours as they plied on the pressure for her to leave immediately for a UK facility.

The encounter came after our reporter contacted the organisation asking for help with a fictitious drug problem.

They were so keen to have her admitted they jetted over from England to escort her from Dublin.

She made contact with the facility after filling out an online form on its website.

Almost immediately she received an email from a staff member called Evan Perkins.

Within minutes of replying she received a text via WhatsApp where she was asked her age and her occupation.

Posing as a young marketing professional told him she was struggling with a daily cocaine and painkiller addiction.

Within ten minutes Mr Perkins, a former HR manager with Narconon’s Californian centre, called her.

After questioning her further about her professional and personal life, she was told she was “suitable” for the programme.

He explained how the detoxification process would begin “straight away”.

Due to Narconon not being fully set up in Ireland yet, she was told she would have to travel to the organisation’s UK clinic.

Set on four acres of countryside, the West Sussex mansion is called the ‘New life Detox Centre’.

There she would receive high doses of vitamins to help cleanse the drugs from her system, spend up to five hours a day in a sauna to “sweat” the cocaine from her body and receive mindfulness type therapy.

She would also complete a course on helping her remove “anti-social personalities” from her life.

When the three month detox plan was completed, she would receive career and life guidance a member of Narconon staff, for up to 18 months, she was told.

After expressing concern about telling family, friends and work colleagues about her addiction, she was advised that she could do so, via email if she wished, when she was admitted to the facility.

He also told her that a qualified doctor, connected to the organisation, would construct a sick note stating “whatever she wanted”. She could then post this to her employer.

“We could go down the line of mental health, or stress, if that was OK with you,” Mr Perkins said.

It was only when she asked about the cost of the treatment that she was told it came with an eye-watering £18,000 price tag.

“In any other treatment facility it would be £10,000 to £20,000 a month, but this is £18,000 for the 12 weeks,” he said. “As well as doing all the steps you get assigned someone from Narconon to help with your life and career for up to 18 months after you leave.”

She informed Mr Perkins she could not afford to pay for the treatment up front.

He then told her: “We will work out with you the best way that will work, you can put a down payment of some size and we can work out a way for you to get a loan or (credit) cards or whatever is comfortable for you, and the organisation, to pay it in a way that works.”

Mr Perkins added: “Our first priority is that we want to help you, the end game.

‘And I’ll just tell you frankly what my end game would be. To fly in (to Dublin) on Wednesday and fly (back) with you on Thursday.

“I can have the team on our end start preparing you a letter, if that will help. You should start putting the pieces in place to pretty much come right away.”

Our reporter met Mr Perkins on Wednesday afternoon at a Dublin city centre cafe.
He jetted in alongside another member of Narconon staff, to meet her.
His companion, an American woman, called herself Reggie.

It was during this bizarre meeting that both well dressed colleagues placed a considerable amount of pressure on her to leave the country and receive treatment.

She was also advised against telling her partner that she planned to leave Ireland.

“Once you are there you are going to get some stability, you are going to have some reality and then we can sit with you and go through it, and you can either do it by email or call,” Reggie said.

She then told her: “Don’t you think it would be better if you just called in to work now and said, I’m not feeling very well, I need to go home.

“It would actually be better. There’s so much stress right now, it would be better if you just stayed with us and worked out the finer details and then go back with us back on the plane. That would be the easiest thing.”

When she said she wanted time to think about joining the programme, and asked for some time alone, Reggie told her: “The problem is when you are by yourself then comes in lots of problems and the person then makes wrong decisions at that point.”

During the strange one hour meeting our reporter was also handed two packets of vitamin based capsules, which ingredients included magnesium and niacin – an organic compound heavily used in Scientology’s ‘purification’ programme.She was told to take them to help with the “stress and anxiety” of leaving Ireland to receive treatment.

When questioned whether it would be possible to take anti-depressants to help with her mood during her time at the clinic, she was told that she could not do so.

“Your depression will more or less disappear on the first day….the vitamins lift your mood massively,” Reggie said.

Before leaving the meeting she was again advised on obtaining credit, whilst in Narconon’s care, to pay for the treatment.

Later that afternoon she was bombarded with texts and calls from Mr Perkins.

In one text he said: “Please answer my call. It is not good for u to be in your head”.

She then informed Mr Perkins she had changed her mind about signing up to the programme.

He responded by sending further texts and attempting to contact her by phone.

In total she received 54 texts and 11 missed phone calls in 24 hours after the meeting.

Independent Dublin city councillor Christy Burke, who has helped hundreds of constituents obtain addiction treatment in the drug ravaged north inner city, said he was appalled at Narconon’s methods and claims at treating drug addicts.

He said: “This is not the way those suffering from drug addiction should be receiving treatment.

“Having helped many constituents obtain addiction services, it is clear what this organisation is saying goes against all medical advice, and almost going into dangerous territory.

“It just comes across as a shady cult.”

Speaking to the Sunday World ex-Scientologist John McGhee – who spent three years in the grip of the cult –  said he was not surprised by the tactics used by Narconon to recruit vulnerable people to the treatment programme.

The Offaly-based embalmer, who has been campaigning against the Ballivor proposed centre, said he believes the centre will be a “recruitment tool” for Scientology.

“They keep trying to distance themselves from Narconon but there is no distance, it is Scientology by another name,” he said.

“When I was involved I was regularly asked to give donations to Narconon.

“The programme that they put the addicts on, they put me on when I joined, and I’ve never done drugs.

“It’s like a purification rundown and it’s supposed to rid your body of residual toxins to get you on what they call the bridge to total freedom, which costs about €400,000 to complete

“But the first step is exactly the same as what they are trying to get addicts on, where they take the high doses of vitamins and go into the sauna.

“This programme offers no cure for anything. It’s all about money, nothing else. It offers no cure for anything.

“If it’s offered to a drug addict whose liver or immune system is compromised they could end up with permanent organ damage. It can even result in death, as has happened in the past.”

In 2012 three patients at Narconon’s chief facility in Oklahoma died within a nine month period.

The deaths resulted in a police investigation and authorities later revoked the centre’s permit for medical detoxification. Staff were also refused counselling certificates.

The addiction treatment – backed by movie stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta –  involves ingesting a high-dose cocktail of vitamins before cooking in a sauna for up to five hours and has been outlawed in the US state of Oklahoma.
In Ireland it has been dismissed by HSE experts and the Department of Heath, who said the treatment has “limited or no basis” in the science of human physiology and brain functioning.

 

However due to a lack of legislation the private facility is free to set up and run in Ireland without being monitored.

It was confirmed last month that Narconon would open a 34 bed facility in the remote Meath village of Ballivor on a proposed nursing home site.

The news came less than two months after 200 people took to the streets against the plans to turn the former national school site into a residential drug treatment centre.

Bosses of the US-born project have since claimed the centre bring will bring in €850,000 per year to the local community, on top of six full-time jobs.

However locals, business owners and politicians have fiercely vented their opposition to the new clinic, and voiced fears it could be a “recruiting ground” for Scientologists.
Last month Narconon officials defended plans for its Ballivor centre in an attempt to allay locals fears.

In an interview with the Meath Chronicle Janet Laveau, of the Church of Scinetology’s National Affairs Office, said: “What we would like to say is that Narconon is really dedicated to addressing the issue of drugs, offering a drug free withdrawal programme that restores people’s lives.

“It’s a safe programme and it is going to bring, I think, a significant benefit to the community both in terms of economic injection in to the area and with very stringent security measure in place so that it is a safe programme and enhances the environment.”

Speaking about the protests against what would be Narconon’s first Irish centre, she added: “I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life. Never, I’ve been working with Narconon since the early 80s and I’ve never personally experienced anything but complete acceptance because the programme makes so much sense to people.”

Statement from Narconon on Sunday World investigation:

A 2017 study by the Health Research Board, reports the death rate from drug use in Ireland is triple that of other European countries—roughly 71 per million people per year. Studies also show that in Ireland two people die every day from street drugs. There are more Irish people dying of drug abuse than traffic accidents. “Replacement drugs”, originally intended to deal with the problem, are implicated in some of these deaths.
Narconon is a non-profit, non-religious, drug rehabilitation programme aimed at those looking to get off alcohol and drugs and helping them lead better lives. It is open to anyone without regard to religion or belief. Many Irish people have gone through the programme and lead drug free lives today thanks to the programme.
Narconon’s high level of care for the students on the programme and for the surrounding community is reflected in every aspect of its operation. Because the Narconon programme is entirely drug-free – it utilises and tolerates no drugs – students are assured a high level of safety and security, as are local residents.
Narconon’s around the world have put tens of thousands of people successfully through the programme. It has proven to be highly successful. The effectiveness of the Narconon programme and its positive impact on communities have earned broad support of civic and business leaders and government and law enforcement officials worldwide.
Narconon, meaning “no drugs”, is a drug-free residential programme that addresses the debilitating effects of drug and alcohol abuse and has helped tens of thousands internationally to start new lives, free from drugs. The programme consists of three phases; drug-free withdrawal, a detoxification component to help a person feel cleansed of drug residues and life-skills necessary to maintain a drug-free life and restore relationships with family and friends that often have been shattered by drug abuse.
Narconon centres have been saving lives for more than 50 years. The programme has proven results. The safety and effectiveness of its procedures is second to none. There are dozens of Narconon drug rehabilitation centres in 18 countries including the United Kingdom, United States, Mexico, Colombia, Russia, Italy, Egypt, Australia, Taiwan, Nepal and elsewhere.
The Narconon programme was developed from the woks in this area of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Scientology religion. Mr Hubbard was a humanitarian whose works include discoveries in the fields of education, morality as well as drug rehabilitation.   Wanting to help those thought lost to drug addiction, Mr Hubbard made his research and discoveries in the field of drug abuse broadly available. The result was the establishment of Narconon, a non-profit, drug rehabilitation programme. A person does not become a Scientologist by completing the programme. The programme is open to anyone without regard to religion or belief.
The Church of Scientology and individual Scientologists support Narconon as part of their social mission. Many Narconon facilities exist today because of generous contributions of time and money from Scientologists over the past decades. 

‘I worked on vital negotiations that I believe have changed Ireland forever, and for good’ Martin McGuinness

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Martin McGuinness

Martin McGuinness 1950 – 2017

News broke shortly after 7am today that Martin McGuinness, former IRA leader turned peacemaker, had passed away.

The 66-year-old Irish republican died after a short illness in Derry’s Altnagelvin hospital surrounded by his family. He had a rare genetic disease caused by deposits of abnormal protein – amyloid – in tissues and organs.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Martin McGuinness in 2013, weeks after he announced his decision to step down from his role as MP for Mid-Ulster.

At the time I was working for a local newspaper with a circulation of around seven – maybe even eight – thousand. It really served him very little to speak with me, however he made the time because he said he owed a lot to the people of South Derry and East Tyrone who he emphasised made it possible for him to become Deputy First Minister.

He invited me up to his office in Stormont and even though I had a strict 20 minute time slot, he continually pushed it back and made sure all my questions were answered.

He talked at length about his career, the peace process, Ian Paisley and the Queen, and at that time his hope of maintaining the powersharing government with Peter Robinson.

Unsurprisingly he said being central to the peace process negotiations was the highlight of his political life. And he acknowledged the huge significance his role played in making peace possible in the province.

“I was able to engage and work on vital negotiations that I believe have changed for the better the history of the north of Ireland and the island of Ireland forever and for good.”

Here is the interview in full (published in the Mid Ulster Mail on February 5, 2013).

 By Patricia Devlin

IT is unlikely there will ever be another MP who will enjoy a political career as colourful as that of Martin McGuinness’.

Elected in Mid-Ulster three years after the IRA ceasefire, and a year before the Good Friday Agreement, he has been at the helm of the Northern Ireland peace process for over 15 years.

He has negotiated with British Prime Ministers, gone into government with his most bitter enemy, and shook the hand of the Royal Monarch once considered a prime target for the paramilitary organisation he was Chief of Staff for.

On January 2nd this year, he signed off a letter to Chancellor George Osborne that signalled the end of an era for Mid-Ulster, and his career as MP.

“One of the most interesting elections I have ever fought was the very first election that I stood in, in Mid-Ulster. I have never forgotten it, and I never will,” he told the Mail.

“I remember travelling around every town land and trying to get to every single door, up very long lanes and canvassing to very late at night.

“Quite a percentage thought that the seat wasn’t winnable because it had been tried before, and because there had been narrow losses in the past, in other occasions there were very substantial losses because of the divided vote.

“And I had a real engagement with the people of the constituency, I told them, that I believe there was a change in political situation, that the IRA ceasefire in 1994 had changed the ball game completely, that I also believed there would be a change of government in London, that there would be a new government led by Tony Blair and Mo Mowlam.

“That in my view because we had done work with the Labour party that would represent a real opportunity to get a peace agreement and to the forefront of my mind was to be very, very conscious that all of the people of Mid-Ulster, no matter what their political persuasion or religious beliefs, had suffered from the conflict.

“And I was making a pledge to them that I was determined to bring that conflict to an end and so the people came out in huge numbers and I, against all the odds, won the seat by 1800 votes,” he said.

To Mid-Ulster and beyond

Taking the seat from the DUP’s Willie McCrea was seen as a huge victory for nationalists and republicans in the constituency, so much so that Mr McGuinness’’ election as seen as a catalyst for Sinn Fein sowing it’s roots across the province.

“It was clear to me from speaking to the people of Mid-Ulster that they were very tuned in.

“They were very political and they were very willing to seize the opportunity to make their contribution to the peace process, albeit it being a peace process in it’s very early stages.

“And I think that had a very dramatic impact on the peace process, it certainly had a dramatic impact on constituencies like West Tyrone where Pat Dorrity later emerged as MP, Fermanagh and South Tyrone where Michelle Gildernew emerged as the MP and Newry and Armagh where Conor Murphy emerged as the MP.

“I give credit to the people of Mid-Ulster for having accomplished that and by voting for me, then made it possible for people in other constituencies to recognise that voting for Sinn Fein could bring change, not just in terms of recognising the constituency but in terms of bringing peace which I believed at that time was a passionate objective of mine, but I also believed that it was passionate desire of the people of Mid-Ulster.”

Highlights

The Deputy First Minister says he is in no doubt at what the highlight of his time in Mid-Ulster has been.

“It has to be the success of the peace process,” he said.

“The peace process is considered as the most successful peace process in the world today and because I was elected by the people of Mid-Ulster as the MP, in 1997, within a month of that I led a Sinn Fein delegation to South Africa with other parties, Peter Robinson led the DUP delegation, David Trimble led the Ulster Unionists and Mark Durkan led the SDLP, where we met with Nelson Mandela and learned many important lessons about peace negotiations.

“I was then obviously entrusted by the party to be the chief negotiator in the Good Friday negotiations and obviously it was because the people of Mid-Ulster put me in such a prominent political position that I was able to engage and work on vital negotiations that I believe have changed for the better the history of the north of Ireland and the island of Ireland forever and for good.”

Ian Paisley

The challenges? The building of those personal, political relationships that have dominated the headlines since the powersharing agreement in 2007.

“Of course the first meeting between Ian Paisley was historically of huge importance, whenever it was certain that he and I were going to be First and Deputy First Minister.

“He said a very significant thing, which gave me an insight into Ian Paisley, he said ‘you know Martin, we can rule ourselves, we don’t need these people coming over from England, telling us what to do,’ and I immediately said to myself, ‘well that’s common ground that you and I can stand on’.

“So for a year I had a very good working relationship with Ian Paisley, albeit he was coming to the end of his time as leader of the DUP and First Minister, and of course people then described us as the ‘Chuckle Brothers’, christened that by a member of the Ulster Unionist party who thought it would demean us, in fact people liked it.”

The Queen

One of the most defining moments of those personal relationships happened in June 2012, just weeks after Martin McGuinness outlined his intention to step down from his MP role.

He says even at the height of his powersharing role with Ian Paisley, shaking the hand of Queen Elizabeth never entered his mind.

“Back in those days I never contemplated even taking a decision on shaking Queen Elizabeth’s hand, but when I did that, I took a very conscious decision to do it as an act of friendship to those who had an allegiance to her In the north of Ireland.

“I think that recognising that things are constantly changing and showing unionists what a United Ireland, or a reunified Ireland would look like I think it is important that we continue to make gestures that make people feel comfortable that moving forward in a shared way, particularly trying to develop an all island economy, is making economic sense for us both north and south.”

The future

Although standing down from Mid-Ulster as an MP, the Deputy First Minister says he will not be standing down from the constituency.

“Some people had that false impression,” he says. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

“I will be as proud and honoured to continue on as a humble MLA for Mid-Ulster and as Deputy First Minister because I am very committed to the constituency and very committed to the people of South Derry and East Tyrone who have supported me through thick and thin over the course of the last 15 years.

“I have a great affinity with the people of South Derry and East Tyrone and I am very conscious that I would not be Deputy First Minister or even as many people describe it, joint First Minister, on the basis of equality with Peter Robinson, had it not been for the support I received from Mid-Ulster.”

Where is the missing suspect sketch in the Charles Self murder case?

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Charles Self

It’s been a week now since I contacted Gardai to ask for a response to allegations that the only sketch of a suspect in the brutal, unsolved murder of RTE set designer Charles Self has ‘went missing’ from detective files.

I was told by the press office that my query had been passed to the investigating officers and I would receive a response in ‘due course’.

I don’t know exactly what time frame ‘due course’ is in the books of An Garda Siochana, but given that it is coming up to the 35th anniversary of Charles’ horrific killing (which no one has even been arrested for) and the continued distress those close to him still feel at not only his loss but also the subsequent failure to find his killer, you’d think the gards would be keen to address such a serious claim quickly.

 

Hopefully this week I’ll be able to update both Charles’ friend Bill, who was shown the drawing in 1982, and others, with an official Gardai response to this serious allegation. In the meantime the story from last week’s Irish Daily Star is in full below.

By Patricia Devlin

THE only sketch of a suspect in the brutal murder of RTE man Charles Self has gone missing from garda files, it’s been claimed.

Bill Maher, a friend of the English-born set designer, says detectives have told him the drawing, given to gardai by a man present in the house the night he was killed, can’t be located.

Mr Maher, 60, said he was only told the news after repeated requests to see the artist’s sketch again over 30 years after the January 1982 killing.

“Gardai said they don’t have it, it can’t be located,” Mr Maher said last night. “They say there’s nothing recorded about it any statements given at the time. But I was shown it, as were a number of other people.

“It was drawn by Charles’ friend who was proud of how well he recalled the man’s face.”

The sketch was made by RTE man’s colleague Berty Tyrer, who’d stayed in Mr Self’s Monkstown home on the night he was killed.

He later told gardai how he’d returned and retired to bed at the Annesley Mews address before the 33 year-old returned from a night out.

During the early hours of the morning Berty said he was disturbed by a man who came into the bedroom where he was sleeping and said: “Sorry, wrong room,” and closed the door.

The next morning Mr Tyrer, who passed away in 1995, found Charles’ body lying in a pool of blood partly slumped against the front door.

He had been stabbed fourteen times and there were three slash wounds to his throat. A ligature had also been tied around his neck.

No-one has ever been convicted of Mr Self’s murder.

Mr Maher, who is the nephew of murdered Catholic priest Father Niall Molloy, says it was in the days following Charles’ death that gardai presented him with the sketch of a man with “curly black hair”.

I didn’t recognise him and that was the last time I saw the drawing,” he said.

When the cold case unit was set up some years later I mentioned the drawing to them, but they didn’t really want to talk about it then.

I was told over a year ago the case had been reverted back to Dun Laoghaire garda station and that they’d be in touch.

I didn’t hear from them again until around October/November time and I met with two detectives and I asked them again about the sketch.

I said if they were doing an appeal, why not use the sketch? It’s the obvious thing.

They rang me later to say that they had no record of the sketch and it’s not mentioned in my statement.

But I was interviewed within 24 hours of Charles’ murder, it wouldn’t have been shown to me then, they wouldn’t have had it.

They then said it could be in storage and they’d send someone to look for it.”

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Bill Maher

Mr Maher, who had met his friend for a drink the day before he was killed, was contacted again by detectives last week, ahead of a special Crimecall appeal set to be broadcast around the 35th anniversary of the murder.

I asked them what the story was about the sketch, and they said, ‘we don’t have it, and there’s no record in any statements’.

I told them name of the guy who had been dealing with at the time and to contact him, he would have been present at the time when I was shown it.

Then I met with them for the Crimecall piece and they said there’s no record of it. It’s very peculiar.

Either they have it, they don’t have it or they aren’t putting any effort into finding it.

It’s frustrating and it’s left me quite angry. It shows how appallingly Charles’ case has been handled.”

Gardai have yet to respond to various requests for comments over Mr Maher’s claims.

In 2008 the murder case was given priority by the Garda’s Serious Crime Review Team and Detective Sergeant Alan Bailey, who has since retired, was placed in charge of it.

He reviewed the case files and found that it was widely accepted at the time that Charles had been killed by a rent boy he had picked up in town and who had never been identified.

Mr Self had spent the earlier part of the night of January 20 that year drinking in known gay haunts in Dublin and was in celebratory mood having got a promotion in work.

He left Bartley Dunnes pub on South William Street at around 11.30pm and walked to a takeaway restaurant on Burgh Quay.

Shortly after midnight, he was seen in the vicinity of the public toilets on Burgh Quay by two different witnesses, but when he hailed a taxi on nearby Eden Quay he was in the company of a 25-year-old ‘fair haired’ male dressed in a two-piece suit.

A taxi driver later said the two became ‘amorous’ in the back of his cab before being dropped off at Mr Self’s home. Despite appeals, this man has never been identified.

His description is also very different to that of the man described by Mr Tyrer, who discovered his friend’s body.

ENDS

 

 

 

 

Irish nuns sold ‘dead’ babies to America

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By Patricia Devlin

A SHELVED report which revealed concerns nuns falsified the deaths of babies before selling them to parents in the USA was seen by two Ministers, a former HSE chief has claimed.

Former Children and Family Services assistant director Phil Garland says the explosive 2012 report was passed to then Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald and Health Minister James Reilly.

But despite recommendations for a State inquiry, no action appears to have been taken.

Breaking his silence for the first time on the reports he helped compile, Mr Garland told The Star: “The HSE and the government weren’t interested. And they still aren’t.”

The sensational “draft reports” surround both Bessboro institution in Co Cork and Sacred Heart Mother and Baby facility in Tuam, Co Galway and reveal how:

  • the church was defrauding the government, women and adoptive parents of cash
  • doctors, social workers and workers still employed in HSE helped ‘traffick’ children
  • bishops sent written requests for babies to be made available for adoption
  • Over 1000 records were unearthed by civil servants including letters and photographs.
  • chiefs believe actions uncovered ‘could be criminal’

Mr Garland told The Star: “I know this information went to the very top of the HSE and to the then Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald. The departments and the Minister just weren’t interested.We wanted this to go much much further. It didn’t and I don’t know why.”The allegations transpired after the discovery of a “large archive” of files by a HSE worker in Co Galway in 2012.Health chiefs were immediately notified how the records, which included photographs and documentation, pointed to posisbly criminal activity operating in institutions during the 40s, 50s and 60s.The evidence uncovered was so strong it led HSE Chief Dr Declan McKeown to warn: “This may prove to be a scandal that dwarfs other.”

Two “draft” reports on “deep concerns” were then written by the then Consultant Public Health Physician.

They included recommendations for a State inquiry to then Health Minister James Reilly. 

The documents include an email sent on October 12, 2012, by Dr McKeown to Mr Garland and another HSE colleague.

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Bessboro/Bessborough institution, Co Cork.

He said a social worker trying to “piece together” the information, which included photographs and documents, had collated a database of “up to 1,000 names”.

He added he would draft an “early warning” letter for the attention of Philip Crowley, National Director Quality Improvement, “suggesting that this goes all the way up to the Minister.”

The email goes on: “This may prove to be a scandal that dwarfs other, more recent issues with the church and state, because of the very emotive sensitivities around adoption of babies, with or without the will of the mother.

“A concern is that, if there is evidence of trafficking babies, that it must have been facilitated by doctors, social workers, etc. And a number of these health professionals may still be working in the system.

“It is important to send this up to the Minister as soon as possible: With a view to an inter-departmental committee and a fully fledged, fully resourced forensic investigation and state inquiry. “

On the same day a more detailed account of the concerns raised in the records was again sent via email to Dr Davida De La Harpe and Mr Garland.

In this paper, labelled “strictly confidential”, Dr McKeown said that there were serious concerns surrounding the infant mortality rate in the Co Cork home.

Death records over a 19 year period showed that a quarter of all babies born at the institution were recorded as having died within the first 12 months of their life.

However Dr Mc Keown said evidence was pointing to the belief that until the introduction of adoption legislation in 1950, nuns in Bessboro were falsely recording baby deaths.

It has been mooted that this combination of evidence may point to babies being identified for adoption, principally to the USA, but has been recorded as infant deaths in Ireland and notified to the parents accordingly.

“This would have been possible before the introduction of adoption legislation. However it will take a more detailed study of practices and the accounting in Bessboro before this theory proven or disproven.”

The documents also touched upon evidence of similar – and more serious – practices taking place in Tuam.

“In common with Bessboro there is some evidence of coercion in that women were forced to stay in the home with their babies until well past the point that they were fit for discharge.

“During this time parents were charged with the upkeep of their children but it appears now that adoptive parents were also charged for the upkeep of the same baby.

“Babies were offered for adoption from the Bessboro and Tuam homes at up to three years of age. The trauma involved in this is revealed in an archive of photographs of children who were sent for adoption to the USA.”

It concluded: “In both of these cases, there are issues of concern in relation to historic patient safety, medical care, accounting irregularities and possible interference with birth and death certification which requires further investigation. 

“Children, if not the mothers who passed trough these systems are likely to still be alive and at the very least any knowledge of their histories should be fully investigated and made available to them if they so choose.”

Mr Garland, who says he believes the archive is still in the property of the HSE, left his Assistant Director position shortly after the reports were made in 2012. But he says he remains troubled that no action seems to have been taken four years on.

His claims are the latest cover-up scandal to rock the HSE in a matter of weeks.

Just last week the health authority was force to apologise after an independent report found it failed to properly investigate abuse claims surrounding a Waterford foster home over a prolonged period despite two internal reviews.

RESPONSE

I contacted a number of government departments over these allegations. Here is what each had to say in full.

HSE (Health Services Ireland)

 “All information gathered HSE-Health Intelligence Unit during the course of their research has been passed to TUSLA.

 “Any records relating to children and families in Ireland, both past and present are now owned by Tusla. The Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters) was established in 2014 under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 by Order of Government under the stewardship of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. The Commission’s work is on-going and any individuals who were resident in or who worked in any of the Mother and Baby Homes or County Homes which are the subject of the investigation should contact the commission with any relevant information.”

The Department of Health

“The  HSE provided a draft report which included the material in regard to Bessborough Mother and Baby Home and which indicated that conclusions must remain conjecture until a more forensic examination could be undertaken.     This  draft was provided to the Committee Secretariat and to the two Departmental  representatives on the Committee.  As these matters were outside the remit of the McAleese Committee,  the HSE subsequently advised that these wider issues would be examined separately  by the HSE.   There is no record of the draft report being received by the Ministers.

“In 2014, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs established an Inter Departmental Group  in response to revelations and public controversy regarding conditions in Mother and Baby Homes. This controversy originally centred on the high rate of deaths at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co. Galway.   The Group was to map the important dimensions of the issue, and to assist in developing appropriate terms of reference for a Commission of Investigation.   The Commission of Investigation into  Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters was then established in February 2015 to provide a full account of the experiences of women and children who lived in mother and baby homes over the period 1922 -1998.”

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

“The information at issue was examined by the Health Service Executive (HSE)
as part of its response to the Committee to establish the facts of State
involvement with the Magdalen Laundries. In the course of this work the HSE
provided a draft report to the Committee secretariat and to the Department
of Health and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.  This draft
report included a separate appendix based on records from the former
Bessborough mother and baby home. The author of this draft report
acknowledged that its conclusions remained a matter of conjecture until
such time as a more forensic examination of the home’s records could be
undertaken by the HSE.

“The draft HSE report was not brought to Minister’s attention at that time.

“As these matters were outside the direct remit of the McAleese Committee,
the HSE subsequently advised that these wider concerns would be examined
separately by the HSE. The Department advised the HSE that any findings of
concern from this separate process should be appropriately communicated by
the HSE.  This Department is not aware of any subsequent reports supplied
by the HSE in this regard.

“The Department of Children and Youth Affairs became actively involved in
responding to the concerns relating to Mother and Baby Homes following the
publication of information on the former Bon Secours Home in Tuam around
mid-2014. The Inter Departmental Group Report on Mother and Baby Homes,
published in July 2014, cites a number of reports from relevant authorities
which expressed concerns with undesirably high death rates during and
following the times these institutions were in operation. It also
references academic literature which clearly indicates that conditions in
these institutions were the subject of attention, report and debate since
the early years of the State. Therefore, it would not be accurate to
suggest that concerns in relation to conditions in mother and baby homes
were unknown or ignored prior to 2012.

 

‘Brainwashed into believing our mother abandoned us for 18 years’

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LAST month I got speaking to two very brave brothers who decided to share their desperately sad story of how their father brainwashed them against their own mother.

JP and Brendan Byrne, both from Dublin, are the only authors in Ireland (that I am aware of) who have tackled parental alienation in this way. Their story tells how as young boys they were cruelly manipulated by their father into believing their mother didn’t love them and that for 18 years she had abandoned them.

By the time they realised that wasn’t the case they were grown men, and their mother had missed out on the most precious years of their lives.

A small piece of the below article was published in the Irish Daily Star today, but even reading my more indepth, original version won’t do JP and Brendan’s story justice. You have to read their fantastic book, Don’t Hug Your Mother, which include’s older brother JP’s diary entries from when he was a child. The story is heart rendering and shows just what damage can be done by this form of abuse which is illegal in Brazil. It’s also widely recognised in the US.

If you are from the UK and Ireland you can biy it here . JP and Brendan also have a great blog and are on Twitter ( JP / Brendan).

 

By Patricia Devlin

TWO Dublin brothers have told how they were “brainwashed” into believing their mother had abandoned them as children.

JP and Brendan Byrne, who are originally from Tallaght, said they only uncovered their father’s “web of lies” 18 years after their parent’s split up.

They’ve revealed their shocking story in a new book called Don’t Hug Your Mother, which shines a spotlight on parental alienation in Ireland.

Speaking following its release Brendan said: “We were led to believe our mother didn’t want anything to do with us, that she didn’t love us and just upped and left. 

“The truth was we were being manipulated and used as weapons, and it cost us our relationship with our mother.”

The emotional book, which is compiled with the help of JP’s childhood diary entries, recounts how the brothers’ relationship with their mum was wiped out in the space of a year.

“After our parent’s split up, we only saw our mother for a few hours every other weekend, and when we did our father would give us a list of instructions before we’d go.

One of those was, ‘if she goes to hug you, duck out of the hugs’. Obviously that was very hard for me.

I was only nine or ten and I was particularly close to her and felt I needed her at that time, a hug was something I would have wanted.

We were told not to accept presents or money from here, and if she said anything nice to us not to reply.

As time went on we were dressed in clothes that our mother wouldn’t have put us in, our hair was done in a different way, and we were told to tell her that this was the way my dad’s new wife Natalie dressed us.”

Contact eventually ceased between the mother and her sons.

It was only 18 years later when both men were in their 20s that they realised the extent of manipulation they were under as children.

JP and Brendan confronted their father but instead of receiving an apology he cut all of contact with them.

He sent me a text message saying, ‘I just said goodbye to your brother, it’s time to say goodbye to you as well,” said Brendan.

To be honest I was kind of delighted. He was such a manipulator that I would have felt guilty if I was the one ending contact. I just thought, ‘I’m free’.”

With the help of their older brother Seamus, JP and Brendan tracked down their mother in 2008.

They had an emotional reunion on the platform of a Co Wexford train station.

She was there with my aunt and we went over like two boys going for inspection,” recalled Brendan.

She actually mixed us both up because she hadn’t seen us in so long. It was just great to see her.”

He added: “She missed our childhood, she’s missed how I got to this age and it wasn’t a great ride either to get to that stage because of our father. It shouldn’t have happened.”

Parental alienation involves the unwarranted rejection of one, previously loved, parent by a child following a separation or divorce.

Last year the Parental Alienation Awareness Association of Ireland said there was a lack of understanding of how serious this form of abuse can be and how much damage can be caused to children as a result. The group have called on the government to make alienation a criminal offence.

Brendan added: “It’s taken us a long time to untangle the web of lies by our father. Hopefully our story can help others.”

Don’t Hug Your Mother is available now to buy on Amazon.

ENDS

Abused, raped and forced to give birth at 12 years-old

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Rape victim Anne – pic by Gary Ashe, Irish Daily Star

ABUSED at the age of two, gang raped by eight and giving birth to twins at 12.

This is the horrific story of a Dublin woman who was the victim of an Irish paedophile ring – which included her grandfather, dad and uncles.

Today Anne, not her real name, speaks about the endless years of abuse she suffered at the hands of the male and female gang of sex predators – and how she hopes to be reunited with the son she gave birth to after being raped.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him,” she said in an emotional interview.

“He is 14 now, and I hope and pray he is safe…but I don’t know. All I want is answers.”

Anne, who is now 27, says she was forced to give birth in secret after falling pregnant to one of her abusers at the age of 11.

Just months into her first year of secondary school, and shortly after celebrating her 12th birthday, she went into labour as she walked to class.

I wasn’t very good at going to school anyway, I knew how to skip out, so that’s what I did,” she said.

I could only go to the people who knew I was pregnant, my relatives who were also my abusers. And I was taken to a bedroom in one of their homes. “

Anne says that a number of people, including an uncle and two woman, were present in the Dublin house where she went through hours of gruelling labour, without pain relief or medical help.

She gave birth to a little boy, who she named Jamie.

He was healthy….crying straight away. Then I said to one of the woman, I need to push again.
This time the baby didn’t cry, he was stillborn.
She said: “I got to stay with them both for a little while, because they (abusers) started to panic. They didn’t know what to do, they kept saying, we didn’t know she was having two.
“Then they came back, and then they told me put the stillborn baby into a box, then in to a bag. Then they made me put him before him in the bin.
Breaking down in tears, Anne said: “They told me had to do it, because it was my fault I got pregnant.”

The next day, as the 12 year-old child stayed holed up in her abuser’s home, the baby boy was removed from her care.

Anne believes the child was illegally registered and brought up not that far from the house where he was born.

She does not know what ever became of the tiny, lifeless body of his brother.

I don’t know if my other son ended up in the bin truck or if he was buried in the garden of one of their (abusers) homes” she said. “Again, I don’t know. It is something I think about every day.”

Her shocking case echoes that of the Dalkey ‘House of Horrors’ horror, which involved Cynthia Owen who gave birth to a baby girl when she was a child.
The baby was stabbed to death and dumped in a laneway. No one has ever been charged in relation to that case.

The years of abuse finally ended when Anne turned 15.

I was no good to them anymore, I was no longer a child,” she said.

As she reached her late teens, she was eventually moved away from her abusive relatives, but still struggled with the effect of the abuse.

In 2014, after years of self harm and suicidal attempts, Anne opened up to a close female relative about her hell, and then bravely went to gardai.

The Minister of Justice has since ordered a full garda report into the alleged sex ring case.

The Garda Commissioner and Tusla child and family agency have also been notified.

The Star has also seen a letter from a gynaecologist who examined Anne in a bid to prove her pregnancy to gardai.
In the letter dated January 22, 2016, a gynaecologist wrote: “I would not dispute the fact that she could have been pregnant previously.”

One of her abusers, a convicted paedophile, passed away before Anne could report the abuse.

Despite the rest being questioned by gardai, they all still walk the streets.

I know for a fact there are other victims.” she said. “I know because we abused in front of one another.

We were even made to abuse each other. It was an open secret.”

Although Anne hopes that her alleged abusers will face justice, she says her main priority is finding the son who was cruelly stolen from her.

I want to find my son and be reunited with him,” she said. “If he is in a safe and loving home, I wouldn’t dream of taking him away from that. “But what if he is not? What if he is in danger?”

This story originally appeared in the Irish Daily Star in April 2016

‘You are holding your baby and you are being told you are a filthy, selfish whore’

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By Patricia Devlin

WHEN Terri Harrison discovered her period was late in February 1973, she knew she had to leave Catholic Ireland.

The plan was if I discovered I wasn’t pregnant I’d have a ball for about a month and then come home,” said Terri. “If I was then to hell with everyone else, I wasn’t coming back.”

Within weeks the 18 year-old from Drimnagh had arrived in London, landed herself a job on Oxford Street and discovered, officially, she was about to become a mum.

I had it all figured out,” the 62 year-old told The Star. “I had a friend who was gay, we were going to move in together, tell people he was the dad and his family would be delighted. We’d bring up the baby together and I was never, ever coming back to Ireland.”

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A young Terri.

Terri didn’t come back to Ireland – willingly.

After a minor accident at a relative’s home which left her in hospital, her news didn’t stay secret for very long. Within days a priest and two nuns called to the London house where she was staying, bundled her into a car and put her on a plane to Cork.

On landing she was driven to the notorious Bessborough House mother and baby facility where she was told she would live for the foreseeable future.

She would have to work, would not be allowed to leave the premises and most importantly respect and obey the nuns who knew what was best for her and her baby. Unknown to Terri her unborn baby had already been accounted for before she’d walked through the doors.

The first test they gave you in that institution was not to check the health of the baby, it was to see if you had gonorrhoea. That was their priority, that you were clean and that they’d get megabucks for this baby.

I was carrying a very expensive commodity. I was even assigned a name – Tracey. My own wasn’t good enough.”

A few weeks in, strong-willed Terri had had enough of the oppression, humiliation and control.

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Bessborough mother and baby institution, Cork.

I was about four or five months pregnant and the baby’s dad Liam came up to visit. Somehow we were allowed into the grounds and we made a run for it. We eventually got to the train station and travelled to Dublin. I visited my eldest sister and her husband sold me out and the nuns were called.”

A decision was taken to keep Terri in Dublin and she was taken to St Patrick’s facility on the Navan Road. A few months later she gave birth to a son, who she called Niall.

I was in labour for three days. They shut me in a room with no doctors, no nurses, and no pain relief. I was shaking that much in pain they had to tie my hands to the bed.

I had a condition called placenta praevia, which meant the after birth came out before the baby. I lost that much blood they had to wrap both me and him in tinfoil. 

“I remember holding Niall, or ‘cuddles’ as I called him, and after that I can’t remember much. I was in shock.”

Sadly the horrific birth was just the beginning of Terri’s nightmare.

“You are holding your baby, your brand new bundle of joy, and you are being told you are a filthy, selfish whore. How selfish of a bitch are you? To deprive this child of a mammy and daddy with a lovely home.

“When you were feeding your baby, you were only allowed to feed him laid out on your lap, you weren’t allowed to bond because their mammy and daddy wouldn’t be happy. And you know how they vetted the people who bought your baby? How often they went to mass and how much money they put on the plate.”

Despite watching other ‘inmates’ lose their children, Terri was convinced that somehow she would be able to take her son home. But when Niall was five weeks and four days old he disappeared.

I fed him at 6am that morning and went back up at around 11am. As I was going up the stairs another girl shouted up to me, ‘his cot is empty’. I went ballistic.”

Terri was sedated and taken to a room inside the institution. The next day she was handed a ticket to England. She left the institution shortly after, and returned to Ireland just a few months later.

She went on to rebuild her life and have three more children, but Niall was never stayed far from her mind.

When her son turned 18 she tried to make contact with him.

Sadly he has no interest in meeting Terri, knowing anything about her, their relationship, what happened when he was a baby, or what has happened since. However she hopes someday he will change his mind.

It gets worse as you get older because you know it is getting closer to the day you will leave this planet,” she said.

Today Terri continues to help survivors like herself who are still struggling from the horror of Ireland’s mother and baby hell. Next month she will help launch the newly formed United Survivors group of which she is a founding member. 

The campaign group aims to not only achieve truth and justice for victims, but also put an end to the offensive labelling some survivors still endure today.

“Labelling me in 2016 does nothing to help educate people or change attitudes.” she says.

“I cringe, and I mean seriously cringe, when someone labels me a birth mother because I never was one. I don’t even know what that means.

“Another one is to call them a mother and baby ‘home’. They didn’t exist. They were slave camps, prison camps. I’ve researched ex-prisoner of war camps, and they were the exact same as us. No rights whatsoever.
“I’ll give you an example; down the road in 1973 there was Mountjoy Prison.

“Me in Mountjoy; one bang on the cell door and you get painkillers, health care, legal help.

“Me in the institution; none of it existed. The gates closed, the doors closed.

“But one thing I have always said is I was never anyone’s victim. I was a target carrying a very expensive commodity.”

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Terri’s interview in the Irish Daily Star published on 19/10/16