Coleman Legal Logo

(1800) 844 104

Over €5m in clerical abuse settlements, support services paid by Spiritans
Coleman Legal LLP
Nov 7, 2022

The Spiritans in Ireland, also referred to as the Holy Ghost Order, has revealed that it has paid over €5 million since 2004 in settlement claims and towards abuse and support services.

The Spiritans Sexual Abuse

This figure was confirmed by the order in RTÉ Radio 1’s Documentary on ‘One programme’, in which two siblings spoke of their experience of abuse while at Blackrock College during the 1970s and early 1980s.

At 6 pm on the 7th of November 2022, their story will be broadcasted in a documentary titled ‘Blackrock Boys’ during the final hour of Drivetime on RTÉ Radio 1.

Fr Martin Kelly stated in the documentary that the order made “multiple monetary contributions”, to individuals who alleged abuse by the Spiritan community members. Which has totaled over €5 million since 2004.

It was stated by Fr Kelly that allegations of abuse have been made against 77 Irish Spiritans in ministries throughout Ireland and overseas by 233 victims, according to records.

57 people have come forward alleging they were abused while at Blackrock College.

It has been confirmed that a total of 12 individuals alleging abuse at Blackrock have received settlements funded from the “Spiritan congregation resources”.

It has also been stated by Fr Kelly that in circumstances where a member does not have the personal money “it has been the practice of the Spiritan congregation to cover legal fees incurred by its members in connection with their legal representation in criminal cases”.

The siblings that appear in the documentary will be the first to openly speak about their experience of abuse at Blackrock College, with the older sibling beginning his secondary education in September 1973,

A priest of the Holy Ghost/Spiritan who was also a teacher at the college took a special interest in the older brother during his first year at the school, which gradually developed into sexually abusive relationship.

This abuse would occur during private swimming lesson on the college campus. After a period of time another priest from the college begin to engage in the abuse toward the boy during these sessions, the boy who not tell anyone about his experience.

After a period of time the boys young brother who was also a student of Blackrock College began to be invited to these private swimming lessons. Over the years he also becoming a victim of the same sexual abuse.

It wasn’t until clerical child sex abuse hit headlines in 2002, that the brothers began to speak of there experiences.

They first revealed their experience of sexual abuse to their parents and then to each other. Multiple charges where brought against there abusers after they made statements to An Garda Síochána.

The Spiritan priest involved denied the charges made against him the now 82-year-old who was still living on the ground of Blackrock College launched a legal case to hold criminal proceedings against him.

The courts decided that the criminal case against the abuser should be halted in 2007, and with his death in 2010, he had never faced a criminal trail for the abuse of the brothers.

After being heavily criticised by an audit reviewing child protective practices, the Spiritans issued a general apology in 2012.

The audit also revealed how serial child sexual abusers were able to operate undetected and unchecked with in the Spiritans/Holy Ghost Order with unlimited access to children between the 1960s and 1980s.


If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse or neglect, and you wish to explore your legal rights, our team has many years’ experience dealing with victims of all forms of abuse, including institutional abuse, clerical abuse, childhood sexual abuse, abuse within the family or in any other situation where the abuse occurred.

Our sexual Assault solicitors Nationwide can help you through the entire legal process should you wish to proceed, and put you in touch with various organisations that are there to help. We understand that any form of abuse is extremely distressing for the victim and their family, and we deal with each case on a personal, one-to-one basis with compassion, empathy and understanding.,

If you have been the victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse, please contact Diane Treanor either by email or freephone us on 1800 844 104 for a Free Case Evaluation.

Keith Rolls Partner Coleman Legal LLP

Speak to our Experienced Solicitors

We understand that navigating the legal system can be overwhelming and stressful, which is why we are dedicated to providing clear communication and support to our clients every step of the way