26 May 2009

Michael O’Brien Transcript

Author: will | Filed under: 2009, crime, Ireland, Irish, memory, news, politics, regret, religion, social change

Michael O’Brien, former councillor and Mayor of Wexford(correction May 27) Clonmel attended the RTÉ programme Questions and Answers on 25 May 2009 and, after Minister Noel Dempsey, the sponsoring minister of the Ryan Commission report in to Child Abuse allegations spoke, Mr O’Brien spoke to the minister and to the panel.

I’ve done the transcript of the video clip below mainly because audio indexing does not work that well for video clips. And video clips have a habit of disappearing off the web.
The other reason is that this clip seems to be the turning point for a lot of discussions. And possibly some action.

—Start of transcript

Mr. Chairman, I’m surprised at the minister there now.

First of all Mr Minister (directed at  Minister Noel Dempsey) you made a bags of it in the beginning by changing the judges. You made a complete bags of it at that time, because I went to the La Foy commission and ye had seven barristers there, questioning me and telling that I was telling lies, when I told them that I got raped of a Saturday, got a merciful beating after it, and then stuffed…

… he came along the following morning and put holy communion in my mouth.

You don’t know what happened there. You haven’t the foggiest, you’re talking through your hat there. And you’re talking to a Fianna Fáil man, a former councilor and former mayor you’re talking to, that worked tooth and nail or you, for the party that you’re talking about now. Ye didn’t do it right, ye got it wrong.

Admit it.

And apologize for doing that. Because you don’t know what I feel inside me. You don’t know the hurt I am.

You said it was non-adversarial.

My God.

Seven barristers.

Throwing questions at us.


I tri.. attempted to commit suicide, there’s the woman who saved me from committing suicide,  on me way down from Dublin, after spending five days at the commission. Five days I spent at the commission. They brought a man over from Rome, ninety odd years of age, to tell me I was telling lies.

That I wasn’t beaten for an hour, non-stop by two of them.

By two of them.

Non-stop from head to toe without a shred of cloth on my body.

My God minister.

And could I speak to you (comment directed to Leo Varadkar, Fianna Gael), and ask your leader, would you stop making a political football of this.

You hurt this when you do that.

You tear the shreds from inside our body.

For God’s sake, try and give us some peace.

Try to give us some peace and not to continue hurting us.

That woman will tell you how many times I jump out of the bed at night with the sweat pumping out of me. Because I see these fellas at the end of the bed with their fingers doing that (gestures) to me. And pulling me in to the room, to rape me, to bugger me and bate the shite out of me. That’s the way it is.

And you know what?

You know what, sometimes I listen to the leader of Fianna Fáil. I even listened to the apology. T’was mealy mouthed, but at least t’was an apology.

At least t’was an apology.

The Rosminians said in the report, they said they were easy on us. The first day I went to them. The first day to Rosminians in my home which is Ferryhouse in Clonmel, ’cause its the only home I know. He said “you’re in it for the money”.

We didn’t want money.

We didn’t want money. We wanted the pr…  someone to stand up and say “yes, these fellas were buggered, these people were ra…”

Little girls. My daughter, oh sorry, my sister. A month old when she was put in to an institution. Eight of us from the one family, dragged by the ISPCC cruelty man. Put in to two cars, brought to the court in Clonmel. Left standing there without food or anything, and the fella in the long black frock and the white collar came along and he put us in to a van.

Not a van, a scut truck, I don’t know what you call it now. And landed us below with two hundred other boys. Two night later I was raped.

How can anyone…

You’re talking about constitution. These people would gladly say “yes” to a constitution to freeze the funds of the religous orders.

This state, this country of ours, would say “yes” to that constitition if you have to change it.

Don’t say you can’t change it.

You’re the governement of this state. You run this state. So for God’s sake stop mealy mouthing. ‘Cause I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of it.

You’re turning me away from voting Fianna Fáil which I have done from the first day that I could vote. Because. And you know me. You know me Mister Minister. You’ve met me on a number of ocassions. So you know what I’m like.

— End of transcript

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51 Responses to “Michael O’Brien Transcript”

  1. paddyanglican Says:

    Well done Will – This needs to be heard far and wide! I have blogged your post (I hope you don’t mind) with acknowledgment and link.

  2. will Says:

    No problem at all

  3. Joe Scanlon Says:

    Thanks for putting this up Will. Michael O’Brien really hit the nail on the head. I’m very glad that he had a couple of minutes on national TV to get his point across. Maybe this will give him some tiny bit of peace in his mind.

    “..he came along the following morning and put holy communion in my mouth”

  4. Anthony McEvoy Says:

    Superb. Thanks for putting it on U-Tube. I heard it on the Radio this morning and was flabbergasted. In one soundbite this man captures all the hurt. He served dutifully the entities that have, and continue to, betray and belittle these victims.
    Have we witnessed a defining moment when finally the tide turns against the unholy alliances that have ruled Irish society since it’s foundation as a State.

  5. will Says:

    I’m not the one who uploaded it to YouTube. No idea who did, and given its legal status
    1) )I wouldn’t say who it was if I knew
    2) I would thank him/her
    3) I expect it to come down, hence the transcript

    Everyone listened to him with tears. A passionate point made very well.

  6. barry clifford Says:

    I was in an industrial school in athlone for two years and a further eight years in salthill, galway, along with my brother. Towards the end they put my brother in a mental hospital because they were afraid of him and I beat up the christian brother who signed the papers that put him there. At fifteen years old i was on the run and homeless. Thanks Michael in helping to give our voice back.

  7. John Wolf Brennan Says:

    I heard excerpts of Michael O’Briens shocking, straight-forward and honest statement on Swiss Radio today (they have an excellent correspondant living in Julianstown, Mr Martin Alioth) and immediately felt that this could FINALLY be the turning point, that finally it could end centuries of a decadent and criminal conspiracy between some (not all, but that’s no consolation for the victims) “well-respected“ members of the Church and the State.

  8. Lisa Murray Says:

    I’ve just looked up Michael O’Brien’s interview after missing it the night it went out. I heard so much talk about him on it but nothing prepared me for hearing what that man and so many,many other CHILDREN went through.
    I am not ashamed to tell you that I cried listening to all the hurt he went through and is still going through today. I feel so sad and sorry for him and his brothers and sisters and others like him.
    What the hell is wrong with the goverment? They have messed this whole thing up so badly for those people.They are adding insult on top of the years of pain and suffering these people had to endure. What they need and must do now is listen to those who suffered at the hands of the church and state and fulfill their duties to those people. They have the chance to do the right thing,and to force the religious orders involved to do the right thing.
    No more silence,act for those who suffered NOW! All my thoughts are with Michael and his family. And I would like to tell him brave he is. Please pass this message onto him. He deserves to know that what he did,speaking out,was so courageous,I admire him for his strength of character.
    All the best.

  9. Aengus Says:

    Quite incredible he didn’t simply break down into tears, given how obviously emotionally overcome he was.

    Thanks for the transcript. I appreciate you taking the time to transcribe it properly, not only with trailing sentences but leaving aspects of his accent in tact (“ye”, “t’was”).


  10. Lorraine Says:

    I cried on my journey to work this morning . My heart physically pained while listening to the replay of Michaels painful memories .
    He is the bravest man in this country.I sincerely hope he and the thousands of other victims get some peace of mind and a serenity . No amount of money can compensate for a lost childhood.

  11. Rodaline Gass Says:

    I heard about Mike O’Briens emotional speech this morning on Swiss News. I was petrified. I wanted to hear or see the whole speech and am grateful that you put it into the web. I grew up in a very conservative catholic environment and my parents kept convincing us that the church and priests above all were generally of no fail. And we believed it, for decades! It may sound naïve, but having never been confronted with abuse, one is tempted to believe in the good. All the more I am deeply shocked about what happened in Ireland (and maybe in other countries too) and I can simply not and I will never understand how a priest, who should have the highest moral standards, could rape, sexually abuse or be violent towards a child – or any person of that matter. Nobody can undo what happened to Michael O’Brien, I am glad he met a woman who stands by him and prevented him from committing suicide. But if there was any way to let him know that his destiny is deeply moving people probably around the world, I would like him to know that somebody has been crying about what happened to him as a child in Switzerland.

  12. L.O'Brien Says:

    This needs to be circulated to all who attempt to find an excuse for the church and state. Michael O’Brien is the type of strong minded , honest and passionate character we need right now to sort out the mess this country is in.
    The question I have for church/state is:
    How much did the church get paid by the state for each child they “cared” for and what were the church’s total earnings from this and “laundry” type work these children were forced to perform.
    Total respect and support for all these people who are trying to get on with their lives. Money wont sort it out for them but any gains the church received must be returned immediately.

  13. “Because you don’t know what I feel ins… « Paul M. Watson Says:

    […] 11:31 pm on May 26, 2009 Permalink | Reply Tags: ireland (97) “Because you don’t know what I feel inside me. You don’t know the hurt I am.” § […]

  14. Y’dig? » Child Abuse in Ireland - an ongoing national disgrace. Says:

    […] http://willknott.ie/2009/05/26/michael-obrien-transcript/ […]

  15. graysheeplost Says:

    i cried and cried but my imagination can’t even come close to what he/they have been through.

  16. John Says:

    Well, I’d suggest that people download a copy for themselves. If youtube pulls it down, we’ll just put it back up. There is such a thing as “fair-use” even if Youtube sometimes likes to pretend there isn’t

  17. Voice of the victims: Michael O’Brien « Ruminations of a rain sozzled paddy Says:

    […] A transcript of the piece is available here. […]

  18. will Says:

    Technically “common dealing” doesn’t have that strong a status in Ireland. However… I’ve asked someone. Since there are no plans to do transcripts of news programs (yet anyway) , there is no problem with transcripts (including the radio interviews) for the moment. Copyright of the clip is another matter… attribution is given (I think) in the clip. Besides, I think some internal legal wrangling may prevent any action for a while… The news section has had a very sharp shock introduction to social media so they might wait to see how this one plays out.

  19. stephen o'callaghan Says:

    pesonally i think the public from that time are culpable as well ( and that includes my parents, grandparents, aunts uncles etc)

    i notice they were all inclined to be apologetic right up to the bishop casey saga in the early 90’s

  20. Kate Bopp Says:

    There is a seething white fury simmering all over Ireland. Institutions have destroyed and damaged whole families. The hurt bleeds in to generations like waves. A spiritual ebola has been spawned and none of us are immune. Nothing can ever be the same again. We should take to the streets to show in equal measures our solidarity with the survivors and our rage at the perpetrators and those who helped to bury their deeds.

  21. Cherry Simpson Says:

    Please thank Mr Michael O’Brien for speaking out. He is an amazing man.

    My daughter was raped and beaten and her story appeared on the cover of the Chicago Tribune. You may look by clicking on my name – website.

    It is not easy for victim’s to speak out but when they do they help many others. They put the sin in the son-light and then God will take care of it. Sin lives in darkness.

    I thank God for Mike O’Brien, May God Bless Him Really Good!

    Cherry Simpson
    Mobile, AL USA

  22. unstranger Says:

    Everything we needed to know is encapsulated in this RTE footage.

  23. TheChrisD - Rant Central » Rants » Random Shit - 27th May Says:

    […] Woah… just, woah. Will also has a transcript available here. […]

  24. Cherry Simpson Says:

    I posted the video on Facebook, many are wanting to know how do they let Mike O’Brien know how proud and thankful they are to him?

    Can you post a way we can contact him?

    Pat Craven of The Freedom Programme is on Facebook as are many others concerned about rape and abuse.

    This man is a hero speaking out the way he’s done!

  25. The National Lottie » Blog Archive Says:

    […] Transcript via Will Knott […]

  26. JK Smith Says:

    Mayor of Wexford or Mayor of Clonmel? The RTE News is saying Clonmel.

  27. Kevin Lyda Says:

    I’ll be honest, due to work I wasn’t going to vote in the local elections. I will now.

    It’s a hassle, but this abuse went on into the 1990s – as far as we know so far. If punishing this government will open political eyes and get justice for past and possibly current abuse, then I think any of us who can have a say have a moral duty to speak on June 5th.

    Absolutely horrifying.

  28. Powerful: Irish Child Abuse Victim vs Minister for Justice « Daddy or Chips? Says:

    […] Transcript via Will Knott […]

  29. will Says:

    I’ll admit that I may have his mayoral constituency wrong. When he mentioned “remember Wexford” at the end I assumed that the position was in Wexford.

  30. State and Church collusion to harass child abuse victims « Damien Mulley Says:

    […] Full Transcript via Will Knott […]

  31. He came along the following morning and put holy communion in my mouth | Joe Scanlon Says:

    […] to a powerful and moving speech by Michael O’Brien a turning point is in […]

  32. Every action… « A Word To The Wise… The Jackanory Says:

    […] Michael O’Brien’s experiences of the Commission Blogroll […]

  33. Questions, No Answers « The Pointy Adventures Of Jean-Claude Supremo Says:

    […] http://willknott.ie/2009/05/26/michael-obrien-transcript/ […]

  34. mark Says:

    I am profoundly shocked at this man’s story. I am ashamed of this insular, cowardly society.

  35. Gaius Says:

    Thanks for sticking up the transcript. I hope you don’t mind me linking to it from my blog.

  36. Grannymar » The tears flowed Says:

    […] If you have any difficulty with local accent a transcript can be found here […]

  37. Avatar Says:

    This man bought me to tears. Thank you for putting up this transcript.

  38. tubby Says:

    Well done to a very brave man. We have been discussing this on our local forum. The more this horror is disseminated around the world the better.
    If I were on of those abuse survivors I would make sure the names of the guilty persons and institutions are made known, and to hell with the consequences.
    They were abused as children and they are still being abused now.

  39. Maireid Sullivan Says:

    Thank you, Will, for taking to time to transcribe this report! Maybe now we can have respectful resolution for all of the people who’ve suffered this tragedy, this barbaric, depraved treatment by people whom we believed had dedicated their lives to a higher calling.
    According to Jean Markale, linguist and Professor of Celtic studies at the Sorbonne, the root meaning of the word “bishop” is “financial controller”.
    I’ve re-posted your report to my channel at Now Public.com, here:

  40. Numquam Says:

    I too want to find out how to write personal support to Michael O’Brien.

    I came across this address and phone for an organization he works with:

    Right to Peace, 42 Oliver Plunkett Terrace, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, phone 052-81614.

    This was on Irishexaminer.com in an article where O’Brien calls for the Orders to seek out other victims.

    See http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/abuse-survivor-calls-on-religious-orders-to-seek-out-other-victims-92747.html#ixzz0H88VVCDf&B

    the government seizes the assets of the Orders under the auspices of the Criminal Assets Board. The Irish Independent has an excellent piece on freezing assets and confiscating proceeds of crime.

    O’Brien was right, the government screwed it up. Use every means to hold the Orders accountable. They profited for decades from crimes against children. The bill is due now, and NOT on their terms. No excuses.

    Whatever political party promotes that should win. I know nothing about Irish politics, but it sounds like elections are coming up. Let them be a ringing rebuke to those in thrall to the Catholic Church.

    See http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/seize-assets-of–the-religious–orders-and-pension-the-members-off-1756573.html

  41. Tom Pius Says:

    By sheer chance I saw this part of Q&A. It moved me profoundly. I don’t think I have ever witnessed anything like it on television: the truth expressed simply. Significantly, the adjudicator did not ask any of the politicians to answer Mr. O’Brien. No one could of course: all one could do in such a situation is admit culpability.

    What now? Like many others on this forum I would like to think that this represents a turning point, a point from where, for once and for all, the Irish people will really get serious about reforming our society. But we seem to be always on the point of doing this. Everyone is angry but where can this be expressed publicly. The politicians will go on believing that everything can be brushed under the carpet. How can we as a people get it across to them that we really do want justice on this issue and that nothing is sacred?

    Six years ago 100,000 people marched through the streets of Dublin in protest against the war in Iraq. Why can’t we have a similar march now on this issue? Why, I believe there should be a move to get the government to either fall or do something positive on this matter.

    Where is the will for this?

  42. Luke Says:

    Thanks for putting this up Will, it’s good to have a permanent record of Mr O’Brien’s statement. Though I hope there will be a video or audio recording left in place on the net. I didn’t see Q & A that night but I did hear the recording of the statement when it was replayed on national radio the next morning, and the delivery of the statement shook me to the core as much as the content. It is undoubtedly one of the greatest acts of courage that I have ever encountered, and I hope Mr O’Brien will continue to receive the praise for his bravery in delivering an account of those horrors with such remarkable candour. With people such as him in Ireland, there is still a glimmer of hope that he and his fellow victims might find justice; I just wish it could be more than a glimmer.

  43. Tricia Duffy (Belfast) Says:

    It calls for complete solidarity regardless of creed or colour or whether we were the abused or not!
    I for one would gladly join in a protest for the suffering people of Ireland North and South at the hands of the catholic church and the failings of the government!

    Well done Will.

  44. Every Irish Person… | Clare Herbert Says:

    […] needs to watch this. Michael O’Brien spoke with such eloquence and passion, and it was by far the best piece of commentary on the Ryan report. Never let it happen again.  Check out the  full transcript here. […]

  45. LightAngel Says:

    My mother was also an ‘ inmate’ of two of these institutions, from 1956- 61 , when she left aged 16 yrs old. where she was treated like a dog , and then went on to become the abuser to her five children, who all now, including my mother, suffer with pyschological, drug, alcohol, social issues. What hurts more is that there are individuals out there who are inept at understanding someone’s pain, even suggestions that these victims are imagining these horrors occured, or that false claims are being laid. The same kind of mentality that allowed these autrocities to occur. I don’t believe or have faith that the irish society really get how badly affected these victims now are, if they did there would be more of a show of discontent. Usual story, no one taking responsibility, talks after talks, nothing really being done. The religious having the luxury of negotiations ? These CHILDREN , didn’t have the same options to negotiate their beatings, or which part of their bodies were sexually interferred with..Did They??????????? And what about these criminals? Why are THEY being protected? Why are WE standing back and allowing this to happen, why are THEY above the law??

  46. ideealisme Says:

    Thank you, Will.

  47. Kathy Devine Says:

    Thank you for posting Michael’s words; his story that of many thousands. It is why I no longer have anything to do with any religion.

  48. CDean Says:

    Thank you for posting. I hope the people of this country will finally wake up and do something. If enough of us stand up the Government will have to listen. As far as I’m concerned, Michael is a national hero for speaking out on national TV and confronting the minister head on. At the very least we should push to get the “Special relationship” removed from the constitution. And the church forced to release their records…whats left of them…so the full weight of the law can be used to bring these people to justice!

  49. Dermot Ryan Says:

    What a man! such courage! ‘holding his head up for a flag of all the free’. i will be worthy of his greatness

  50. "Leading" Abuse Survivor Walks out of meeting with Cowen - Page 2 Says:

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  51. Above the law | Canadian Atheist Says:

    […] Here is a transcript. […]

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