John McEntee.

Sexual abuse 'did me no harm' says former Celt columnist

The former Cavanman in London columnist with The Anglo-Celt has caused quite a stir following the publication of an article in which he claims he was sexually abused in the De La Salle national school in Cavan town but declares 'it did me do harm'. John McEntee told The Anglo-Celt this week that he had received quite a bit of reaction to the piece, which was published in 'The Oldie', Richard Ingrams' humorous monthly magazine in Britain. He claims that he, and a few friends were "fiddled with" by a brother (Francis) in the school in the 60s (article on page 4). John emphasised that he was not trying to trivialise sexual abuse and concedes that what happened to him and others in the class "was wrong" but explains that he was far greater affected by physical abuse at the hands of another brother (Cyril) in the school. "We were battered around the classroom, it was far more frightening," he said. "It's just another perspective. We had this older brother for Irish in the afternoon and I would go home and be banging my head against the wall and be covered in lumps and telling my mother that I had a headache to try and get out of the class," recalls John. He said that he had received scores of letters following the publication of the piece. He said that one man, who had a similar experience in another school, wrote of how it had "haunted" him for years and he had carried around a "guilt" about the experience. He said that reading John's piece had lifted a weight off his shoulders and given him a different perspective. In fact, John says that he and others were quite "fond" of Brother Francis. He said that at the time the authority of the church in Ireland was "sacrosanct". Meanwhile, the Anglo-Celt contacted the De La Salle order to see if they wished to comment on the article. Brother Pius, the safeguarding officer for the order, said that this was the first they had heard of Mr McEntee's allegations. "In accordance with our policy on Safeguarding Children, I will refer the allegation to the Gardaí and the HSE. The order will cooperate fully in any investigation," he said in a statement. "I consider it would be inappropriate to comment on the matter until such an investigation is complete," said Brother Pius. John's full story, on page 4 of the print issue of The Anglo-Celt.