Monday, 31 October 2016



YESTERDAY I published a blog about my sufferings in presbyteries at the hands of 4 priests - Father Bernard Driscoll and Canon Patrick Creed in Wales and Fathers Vincent McKinely and Joe McGurnaghan in St Peter's Cathedral Belfast (1978 - 1983).

A RETIRED PP of Down and Connor published the following challenge to me and asked an answer:

"While this is an interesting post, and I really do empathise with your sufferings Pat, I wonder how much you were responsible yourself for the activities of those priests towards you? I can't speak for the Welsh situation, but I can for the Down and Connor as both Fathers Vincent and Joseph were friends of mine. I believe them to have been good, if somewhat limited, men and priests product of their own homes and upbringing, who certainly tried to get on with you in the early months of your time at St Peter's Pro Cathedral. The problem may have been their jealousy of you, but you too didn't help yourself with your arrogant and supercilious attitude and above all your insatiable appetite for self promotion and publicity. Long after you had gone, these men too were having nightmares of your time with them. I know, because they shared that with me. Father Vincent would often say that "Pat Buckley was a nightmare". I wonder looking back can you accept any responsibility for how you mis treated these men. Sure you wanted to side with the parishioners, the poor and the downtrodden of Divis Flats, and that is admirable, but these men were your brothers too. Charity begins at home and you certainly weren't charitable to these priests. I would be interested in what you say. Please no self serving justification of how hard done by you were, try and accept responsibility for clearing the rubbish on your own side of the street. Retired PP Down and Connor".

Today I wish to address his challenge. 


I understand that this retired priest was a friend of Vincent and Joe and as such probably knew them much better than I did and had the opportunity to experience, more than I, the good and kind side to both.

Vincent Mc Kinley RIP

On the other hand there is the old saying:


When I arrived in St Peter's Vincent McKinley had just been made the administrator after more than 20 years as a curate. I think that the new responsibility was difficult for him and when I arrived he was "on leave" suffering from a minor stress / anxiety problem.

When he came back he immediately liked me and I liked him and we were indeed new friends. We went about together quite a bit and he liked my preaching and invited other priests to come and listen to my sermons. He seemed proud to have me as his curate.

He then injured his knee badly in a golfing incident and I not only visited him in hospital but used to bring him fresh clothing to the hospital and bring home his washing to the housekeeper. 

When he got home I used to massage his injured knee several times a day with olive oil and I think this helped his healing. 

After about a year of good friendship Vincent called me to his room one day to say that Joe McGurnaghan, who was the "senior curate" resented our friendship and that from now on we would have to be lesser friends. I was disappointed with this but accepted it.

I hope it is unnecessary for me to make clear that there was nothing inappropriate in our friendship. Vincent McKinley was a very robust North Antrim heterosexual and I had absolutely no other thoughts about Vincent apart from friendship.

Vincent McKinley was a very sexually frustrated man. He had no sisters and was in awe of women. I know for a fact that he behaved inappropriately with a number of women and girls and was tackled about his behaviour in St Louise's Girls College by the infamous Sister Genevieve of whom people said: 
SHE WAS THE TOUGHEST MAN ON THE FALLS ROAD. In fact she banned him from the school at one time.  

Sister Genevieve RIP

Vincent was probably very unsuited for the priesthood and celibacy and I think he would have been a much happier man had he married and had children and worked in civvy street. 


Joe McGurnaghan RIP

When I arrived in St Peters Joe McGurnaghan was on holidays and Vincent Mc Kinley was on the sick.

Initially I was there with my two fellow curates - Father Jimmy McCabe - a holy, chainsmoking Derry man and Father Jimmy Burns - a member of the Salesian Order.

When Joe returned from holidays and I met him I found his to be reserved and a bit cynical. A few days after I met him he gave me this advice: 
"This is a bad parish. The people here as as thick as bottled pig shit. Don;t get too involved. Say your Masses, do your funerals and weddings, have a drink and a wank and wait until you get a better parish".

At 26 and two years ordained I was a bit shocked at this approach and obviously had no intention of adopting it. 

Joe had himself been treated very badly by one of his former PP's - either the parish priest of Portaferry or Holywood. 

This was Joe's daily timetable:

9 / 10 am - Morning Mass followed by breakfast and a read of The Irish Times.

After Breakfast - Went to his room and listened to classical music.

1. pm Lunch and back to his room for a visit from his bother Matt or a priest friend like Father Brendan Mooney.

6 pm: Tea.

After Tea: Back to his room for TV or more classical music.

The only break on this timetable was for his day off on Thursdays.

Joe was an expert in fine wines and cognacs. He arranged the cathedral wine cellar and at lunch everyday we had red wine; vegetable soup supplemented with sherry and coffee and brandy at the end. Joe's evening tipple was Remy Martin cognac.

I never got close to Joe but tried to please him by bring a bottle of wine to the dining room. Unfortunately I knew very little about wine then and my choices were met with disdain by Joe.

I do believe that there is an explanation for how Joe was - apart from having himself been abused by a parish priest. 

Joe McGurnaghan's father was a hard man and the headteacher of a school in Ligoniel. I believe that he was very hard on his children ans his behaviour may well be called abuse. I think this affected Joe and his brother Matt.

I have a friend whose grandmother had been Joe's girlfriend many years ago in Ligoneil. Maybe Joe would have been happier had he married a good woman who made up to him for the severities of his youth.

"The problem may have been their jealousy of you, but you too didn't help yourself with your arrogant and supercilious attitude and above all your insatiable appetite for self promotion and publicity". 
Was I arrogant and supercilious and did I have an insatiable appetite for self promotion and publicity?

The dictionary defines arrogance as being: "having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities".

It also defines supercilious as: "behaving or looking as though one thinks one is superior to others".

I do not believe that I had or have an exaggerated sense of my own importance. I am the oldest of 17 children and grew up in relative poverty in the suburbs of Dublin. I went to no posh schools and did my Leaving Cert in a Tech in Dublin.

I suppose I must be strong willed and stubborn to have survived. But that was not easy and at times in my life - including my time with Vincent and Joe just survived with the help of doctors and counsellors. At my worst times in St Peter's the local GP and SDLP politician Joe Hendron had me on valium and was fully aware of my issues. 

I think it was a clash of generations and pastoral approaches. Vincent and Joe saw Divis as hopeless and I wanted to tackle the hopelessness by pastoral work, cleaning up the streets, organising music festivals, tackling the "joy riders" etc.

But of course - "
Nemo iudex in causa sua" - No man is a judge in his own cause.

While I had clashes with clergy I never had problems with the parishioners in the parishes I worked in. 

At my Last Judgement maybe the parishioners of Llanrumney, Bridgend, Briton Ferry, Whitchurch, Divis, Kilkeel and Larne will speak for me.

The "prosecution" will undoubtedly call the clergy to the witness box. 

In any event the court will be considering the following charges against us all - including myself, Vincent McKinley and Joe McGurnaghan:

Did you feed the hungry?

Did you give the thirsty a drink?

Did you clothe the naked?

Did you care for the sick?

Did you visit prisoners?

Did you welcome strangers into your home?

I suppose we will all be hoping more for MERCY than JUSTICE?


  1. At last, a cleric or religious who responds appropriately to abuse. It wasn't your intention, but thanks for bringing up Sr Genevieve. Incidentally, her obituary in the Guardian doesn't only say she was the hardest, but the *only* man on the Falls Road!

  2. I read a book about Sr gen a very formidable woman who didn't take any nonsense from anyone

  3. Clerics appear to have been conditioned or compelled by a non person friendly system to create a sub culture all of their own. Animal Farm springs to mind. If church is not a healthy place for clergy how can it support a healthy laity.

  4. Thank goodness the people of drumbo and carryduff are rid of their old bullying pp! People have been rejpicing all weekend!!

    1. How refreshing it was :). You could feel the enthusiasm flow back into the church during mass. The PP and curate have a big challenge ahead but they are up for it. Actually looking forward now to Mass in Drumbo again. Credit for a change to the Bishop in that he clearly listened to feedback on what was needed to save Drumbo!!

  5. Sr Genevieve even stood up to the then bishop of Down and Connor - Granny Kitty Daly. And she didn't like it one bit! Lol

  6. MOURNEMANMICHAEL31 October 2016 at 17:17

    Very valid observations Pat.
    I made that comment on 'management skills' from an awareness of how, in my own 20's, young, fresh from Uni, and full of enthusiasm to improve things, I too, probably like you, felt frustrated by the reluctance (of older established professionals in my then hierarchical employment system) to even consider better more effective ways of working. So I too at that time, in making suggestions for changes, experienced "differences", but certainly not to the abusive level you have related.
    So in my comment I consciously put the words management skills in parenthesis to perhaps indicate the questionable value of such 'skills'.
    I certainly agree with your final comment that the more you submit to bullies the more they will abuse you. I experienced that too, and looking back, was fortunate in removing myself from that situation.

    A big reality though in the 'social' employment sector related to social outcomes, is the difficulty of objectively quantifying successful outcomes, especially on a long term basis. By contrast, in the commercial world, it can seem relatively easy to quantify 'success': does selling more products mean success; or balancing the books and making a profit all that counts?
    But in delivering interpersonal 'products', whether religious pastoral efficacy, or successful social care interventions, regrettably it seems that the currently predominant short term bean counter mentality focus is simply concerned with simplistic cause and effect equations capable of showing immediate 'profit'. It is particularly difficult to 'quantify' successful social outcomes, as regrettably those who have been most helped and supported are often less able to forcefully articulate and quantify the 'value'[ie the 'savings' to the public purse] they have received.

  7. MMM you obviously left the priesthood, did you find what you wanted out of life, or are u still searching ?
    Most tell me that learning occurs until we die, which I would concur with.

    1. MourneManMichael31 October 2016 at 20:49

      Left year before ordination.
      Not searching for anything. Just content in living a quiet peaceful life having got many of the "Tea shirts"(or is it "Tee"?), and don't need more!
      My greatest contentment is from recognising my own insignificance and that religion and all its related trappings in my humble view is a great waste of energy and resources despite the crutch it provides for many.The contentment comes from acknowledging I don't need its pseudo support.

    2. Thanks MMM I suppose each to his own.
      I like my faith in God and I'm happy at most priests masses,I've prayed with many who weren't the faithful servants, but I'm sure it didn't affect my own personal faith....and yes I continue to learn something new each day mostly from the changing seasons and from my ever extending family.
      No I don't accept that my faith is a is my life, and yes I am a very important person in the development of the lives of many young people

  8. Does anyone still believe in the old maxim, de mortuis nil nisi bene dicendum, nothing is to be spoken of the dead except good? Apart from cases of egregious criminality that the grave cannot offer shelter from, is it not best to forgive and then forget utterly such slights, oversights, and insults whether perceived or actual that may have been delivered by those now unable to give account? Not only does forgiveness demonstrate generosity of spirit and respect for the living friends and family of the deceased, it may also bring closure to the one who has suffered. Athlone Andy

    1. Do you call being knocked to the ground and being punched and kicked "slights, oversights and insults"?

    2. Bette Davis when talking about the death of joan crawford said she was brought up to never say bad things about the dead only good . Joan crawfords dead . good!

    3. I did not equate being knocked to the ground and being punched and kicked as 'slights, oversights and insults'. I never mentioned that at all. If that happened to you then you were assaulted which is a crime and you should have reported it to the police for investigation and prosecution of the criminals. If you did not do that then there is no evidence of your claims apart from what you say in your blog. There is a basic principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Proof = verifiable evidence. The people against whom you have made your claims have not been proven guilty of the offences you claim they committed against you. You have not been hesitant about using the legal system to protect your own interests in the past. Why did you not do so then if, as you now claim, you were assaulted? Did you require medical treatment? Did you seek a medical report on the bruising that always accompanies a punch or a kick or being knocked to the ground? If you did not, why not? You parade your claims against the dead and you should now produce evidence that will convince us they are true or withdraw them. Athlone Andy

    4. 1980. Falls Road. Hated RUC. 29 year old junior curate againt 30 year ordained senior priest.

      I imagine you are one of those who call all church victims liars?

      Brendan Smyth never abused anyone?

      My statements stand. Its the truth!

    5. Bishop, I hope I did not cause upset but the reason I wrote is because on your blog you make 3 points: clerical abuse continues to happen; it should be exposed and reported to the authorities; and you can help those who are victims.
      I was therefore interested to read that you too had been a victim of clerical abuse having been tortured, punched, kicked and knocked to the ground by one or more co-workers who were middle-aged or elderly. This was interesting as it was different from the typical scenario of a vulnerable child being attacked by a priest in his 30's, yet the outcome seemed to be the same: nothing happened.
      At the time you were assaulted, you were in your physical prime at 29 years old, experienced, well-educated, articulate and confident. While I can understand why a child victim of abuse might well remain silent, I find it difficult, and please forgive me if it causes you offence because it is not intended to, as to why a man of your age and qualifications would permit himself to be beaten and tortured by one or two old men?
      The reaction of most men, physically assaulted by a supervisor, would be to report the abuse at the first convenient opportunity. You had a common employer with the men who assaulted you and the offences took place on the employer's premises. Your employer had a duty of care to ensure you had a safe workplace. Why did you not immediately report the incident to your bishop? If you hated the police could you not have gone to a lawyer to liaise with them or to initiate a private prosecution on your behalf? Surely living on the Falls Road never meant, even in the 1980's, that Falls Road residents were denied access to redress if attacked by co-workers at their place of work?
      Please forgive me if I, and possibly some of your other followers, find it difficult to understand the power of a man, with 30 years' seniority over you, being so intimidating that you felt unable to report his assault until he was quietly in the grave.
      Doubtless you are robust, and long may you continue to be so, but when someone is knocked to the ground by a violent assault there is normally some physical damage requiring medical attention or check-over. In addition to a medical report one would also expect the victim to make a statement or create some other contemporaneous testament to the violence, or even just confide in a friend?
      You have not indicated that any of these things happened. You ask us to rely on the fact you say it is true. But that has never been the human way. We need proof and evidence. Otherwise anyone could make any kind of claim about anyone else. We can only act on claims, and have confidence in claimants, if they are corroborated in some way.
      People who might read your blog and wish to turn to you for support as they confront clerical abuse in their own lives surely have a right to hear a more detailed explanation of the reasons for your own silence until your abusers died? By understanding better why you remained silent they may gain confidence to come forward. Andy Athlone

    6. I was indeed 29 and my attacker was in his 50's.

      But he was my boss and had total control of my life.

      He was also a senior priest of the diocese and I was just a new arrival in the diocese and hoping the diocese would keep me.

      I am now 64 and have never been physical with anyone in my whole life. Maybe you think I am a wimp but I would find it difficult to strike anyone even in self defence.

      It was Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles.

      NO ONE at least on the Catholic side ever reported anything to the RUC.

      I did tell Bishop Cahal Daly about the attack and he did not believe me.

      In fact he called me a liar and a a person with a persecution complex.

      Even adults are intimidated by a person in authority and I was at that age.

      Were it not I would have left my attacker in hospital and reported it to the police.

      Maybe you have never been a "vulnerable adult" or have never been abused by anyone?

    7. MourneManMichael1 November 2016 at 17:49

      Your questioning analysis is very reasonable Andy, ......from a present day perspective.
      Fortunately nowadays people are more aware of their rights and avenues of redress, as indeed too are many 'potential abusers' of where stand the boundary lines they ought not to cross for fear of retribution. Having said the latter, I recognise many would not recognise their behaviour as abuse and/or would misguidedly believe it reasonable and justified.
      Allow me to leave completely to one side the issue of sexual abuse, and consider physical abuse by persons in positions of power,whether employment, psychological or emotional over subordinates back in the 1950's/'60's . From my present perspective I say with certainty that Christian Brothers physically abused pupils in my teenage years. Slapping 14 year old boys with a hammer shaft; a brush shaft sawn into 12 inch pieces; punching them forceably on shoulders reciting the Latin "Big Bam" (imperfect tense, ...Amabam punch, Amabas punch, Amabat punch etc).
      I had the bruises and hand weals of those days as clear evidence of abuse. But 'report it'? None of us ever did.
      So this is not a QED reply or vindication on Pat's behalf. It asks that we all bear in mind the prevailing ethos of those times, and, importantly the psychological and emotional disempowerment effects on the abused.
      Indeed you do right to ask these pertinent questions in seeking to understandthe issues, and I hope this comment helps in that respect.

    8. Bishop Pat
      Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions about your own personal experiences which are of interest to all who follow your blog.
      With regard to vulnerability your words brought to mind a particular summer school in the Gaeltacht where pupil-on-pupil bullying had insidiously, and unknown to the administration, taken root. The pupils came mainly from our northern counties. Certain pupils - boys (never girls) - would pick on quieter ones, country cousins, who did not smoke or swear or who had a certain gaucheness of manner or accent or wore unfashionable clothes. Some of the victims suffered greatly yet their suffering was virtually invisible to the college because of the furtive way in which the bullies operated. It made me think of the words of an English poet 'Does Mum, the Persil user, still believe/That there's no Devil and that youth is bliss?'
      As the bullying scandal unfolded to the gathering collective surprise and consternation of the college, I remember the words of our feisty headmaster urging victims to come forward by loudly declaring to the assembled pupils and staff, 'Never be afraid of the Truth'. The same could be said in our own times with the addition of the words 'wherever it may lead'.
      Athlone Andy

    9. Thank you, Michael, for your interesting perspective. The way in which you, and others, were treated by the CB was truly appalling.
      Although corporate punishment was specifically outlawed in the 1980's it was never legal and could always be challenged. A report from The Times of 22 March 1884 states (and I abbreviate substantially to avoid clogging up Bishop Pat's blog): 'At West London, yesterday, TW Davenall, an assistant master at the Hogarth Road Board School, Chiswick, appeared before Mr. Curtis Bennett [magistrate] to answer summonses for having assaulted Arthur Thomas Waller, aged 13, and Sidney George Briggs, aged 15, pupils at the school...Mr. WJ Bull, barrister, representing the National Union of Teachers, defended.
      The boy Waller said that on the afternoon of the 12th inst. he was in the school, and was in the class of which defendant was teacher...he was playing with a puzzle under the desk, and was called to the front of the class. He went out and held out one hand on which the defendant inflicted a blow with a cane. He was told to hold out the other hand but would not do so. Defendant then caned him on the legs and hips. Waller kicked the defendant who then thrashed him again and got him on the ground. Waller got hold of the cane and tried to get it away from him....the defendant's barrister said the boy Waller was a ringleader of unruly lads and the defendant deemed it necessary to inflict punishment in order that he should not lose control of the class...William Matthew, headmaster, said the defendant was a lenient teacher...[However the magistrate said that the teacher had] inflicted punishment which was altogether unjustifiable. He lost his temper and behaved in a way that showed he was unfit to have control of boys. A fine of 50s with 50s. costs was imposed in the first case....the alternative being a month's imprisonment...'
      So over 120 years ago the National Union of Teachers was put on notice by the courts that excessive corporal punishment could lead to fines or imprisonment of their members.
      Most people knuckle under, but not everyone does, and one cannot help but admire the spirited 13-year old Waller - a leader of unruly lads - who in 1894 convinced a magistrate in West London to fine or imprison his teacher for physical assault in the classroom.
      As you note, Michael, people were less aware and less informed of their rights of redress in former times by comparison with today. And teachers were less well-schooled in their duties, obligations and responsibilities to those entrusted to their tutorship. Thankfully we live in saner times. Athlone Andy

    10. MourneManMichael1 November 2016 at 23:46

      Your latest comment brought both a smile, and a powerful memory of a similar incident.
      In my third year grammar school, probably then 14 yr old, in last class of the day, Latin teacher Joe O'D left us in class to go get something from staff room. A neighbouring class up the corridor was for some reason noisy, so when Joe returned he blamed us and demanded that whoever was shouting own up. No one did, so Joe then said we weren't "getting out", ( ie., getting home, which for lots of us was dependent on catching our customary bus)
      After a further five minutes stalemate with no responses while he sat glaring at us, I stood up, said I was not going to miss my bus for I've done nothing and nobody else here has, and started to leave. Having found a victim, he first pushed me back then started hitting me with a ruler. I took it off him and dropped it out a window. Just then the head, a benign Brother Benignus arrived, dismissed the class, and said to teacher Joe "we'll discuss this tomorrow morning".
      The following morning he summoned me to his office and simply said the matter had been resolved. He was a wise and sensible head.
      Guess I always was a "stirrer", but like to think it's from a strong reaction against injustice.
      I wonder if any of my former classmates read this blog and remember that incident from about 1960?

  9. I prefer honesty , Andy,...good on you Pat for replying to yesterday's retired pp

  10. 7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, 9 and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in your instruction. (Malachi 2:7-9)

    1. 19 45 Human nature hasn't changed much. There will always be challenge and tension in the kingdom

  11. It's a miracle of grace Pat that you still have your faith after what you have been subjected to by members of the Clergy. I know many other people who now have no belief in God whatsoever because of the scandalous behaviour of priests.

    1. Why would I blame God for the behaviour of men :-)

    2. Well said! - - It is not the behaviour of others that weakens a person's faith. Weak faith is sadly the result of continual absence of personal prayer. In daily prayer, there is daily strength. That cannot be said often enough!

  12. You are an inspiration....and a big loss to the RCC

  13. I agree with you. Pat IS such a loss.

    What a wonderful priest he is!

  14. Pat, I never thought I'd be saying what I am about to say: I admire you for the answer you gave to the retired D&C PP. What you have said does you great credit. I agree with the earlier comments. You are indeed an immense loss to the RCC. I know the maxim Audi alteram partem. applies. The four others in question are dead and cannot be heard. But that does not mean you should say nothing as an earlier lengthy post above suggests. You can speak the truth in love. And it seems to me that that is what you have done. I do not agree with much of what you have done here since the summer, but what you have said above does you immense credit. But what you suffered in Wales and Belfast is nothing short of abuse. May God have mercy on those who did that to you. And may God continue to give you courage in resolving these past hurts and peace and hope in the present.

    1. A sensitive, especially balanced and just reflection on your colleagues, with due consideration of why they might have been the way they were.

      You Sir are a loss to what the RCC should be.