PB July-August 2023 July-August 2023 35
rother Edmund Garvey, 73, was
given the Freedom of Drogheda,
where he had been born, in 1997
when he was head of the Christian
Brothers. He went out of his way
on that occasion to apologise for hurtful
experiences people suered because of the
order, or in its schools.
However, in the last few years he chose not
to act as nominee for the Brothers for the
purpose of a High Court action for abuse,
taken against the Brothers in 2019. Though
certainly that is his legal right, it meant that
the more than 100 living members of the order
at the time of the alleged abuse had to be
made defendants in the case, six of whom live
abroad, if the traumatised plainti wanted to
sue the Brothers, a tall order. The High Court
ordered judgment in default against 29 of
them on 20 June.
Damian O’Farrell is an independent Dublin
Councillor from Clontarf and a survivor of the
widespread abuse perpetrated by the
Brothers. He obtained the first ever criminal
conviction against a Christian Brother, in
1998. Farrellwrote to Councillors in Louth last
October asking them to rescind the freedom.
Alleged victims hired a hotel in the town and
asked Councillor to talk to them but only five
of 29 turned up.
Independent Louth councillor Maeve Yore
has attempted to have the following motion
tabled in the Council on two occasions: “That
Louth County Council supports all victims of
child sexual abuse and condemns the current
litigation strategy chosen by the Christian
Brothers order...and this Council calls on our
members in the Borough District of Drogheda
to rescind the Freedom of Drogheda bestowed
on [Garvey]”.
A letter from the Council to Yore states:
your most recent Motion will not be placed
on the agenda of council for May as it is
considered potentially defamatory and could
expose the council to litigation”. It’s about as
defamatory as a Bridget’s cross.
On 10 May the Council replied to Yore’s
solicitor, MacGuill and Company, confirming
that it considered it was potentially
defamatory: “It could be interpreted as
making specific allegations against an
identifiable person which, if unsubstantiated,
could be injurious to the reputation of that
person”. It suggested the Councillor submit
alternative wording.
Yore is said to be contemplating a complaint
to the Standards in Public Oce Commission
though it is unlikely to find ethics grounds on
what is essentially a procedural matter.
She is also looking at a legal route.
Section 140 of the Local Government Act
2001 states that an elected council may by
resolution require any particular act, matter or
thing specifically mentioned in the resolution
and which the local authority or the [CEO]
concerned can lawfully do or eect, to be done
or eected in the performance of the executive
functions of the local authority.
Louth County Council should pass a
resolution requiring its CEO, Joan Martin, to
put a resolution rescinding the Freedom
awarded to Brother Garvey which, whatever
the Council thinks, is non-defamatory, on the
Clár or order sheet for expeditious
Jarvey for Garvey
Drogheda and Louth Councils disgrace
themselves by finding spurious legal reasons
not to consider rescinding 1997 award of
Freedom of Drogneda to the former head of the
Christian Brothers who has been making life
difficult for an abuse victim who is suing them
By Michael Smith
discussion. Though the Cathaoirleach took
legal advice that rescinding the Freedom is a
matter for Drogheda Borough Council, it is in
fact more appropriately dealt with by the full
Louth Council rather than the legally depleted
Drogheda Borough Council since, on 1 June
2014, the Borough Council was dissolved and
the administration of the town was
amalgamated withLouth County Council’s.
Brother Garvey has not behaved well and it
is entirely appropriate to call him to account,
or eject him from the honour he was, unwisely,
aorded by the Council in a slightly less
cynical era.
The CEO has already wasted enough of
Councillor Yore’s time and legal fees. The
Councillor might legitimately demand that if
the CEO does not comply with this resolution
and the law that she will hold the CEO and her
agents personally liable for the costs including
legal costs, pf her non-compliance.
More dicult for Councillor Yore will be
obtaining the necessary two-thirds majority
vote for her Section 140 Resolution. Without
the political support the legal action will not
be possible. However, the Mayor of Drogheda,
Michelle Hall, signalled last December that at
least nine of the ten Borough Councillors were
against bringing forward a motion to rescind
Brother Garveys Freedom. It is not clear why.
What is extraordinary is, apart from one
Sinn Féin County Councillor, the lack of
support from the mainstream political parties,
including the defiant Labour Party. locally or
from their national representatives, for an
attempt to undo a small part of the abuse that
most of them at least accept is real. Its to be
hoped those parties will be held to account for
their heedlessness.


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