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High Court

Court grants disclosure orders against head of Christian Brothers in actions by Jack Manning victims

The actions are being taken by Anthony Doherty and Donal Lynch.

THE HIGH COURT has made orders directing the head of the Christian Brothers to provide two men with details they require to progress civil actions against the order over the sexual abuse they suffered more than 40 years ago.

The two – Anthony Doherty and Donal Lynch – claim that on dates between 1972 and 1980 they were sexually abused by former brother Jack Manning, who was a teacher at the primary school they attended during that period.

In July 2021, Manning (87), who left the order in 1977, and had an address in Donnybrook, Dublin, was jailed for three years by the Circuit Criminal Court after admitting nine counts of indecently assaulting four of his pupils.

The four pupils include Doherty, with an address at Ranelagh, and Lynch, from Donnybrook in Dublin. The abuse occured when they were all under 10 years of age and pupils at Westland Row CBS, Dublin 2.

The four victims, who are now aged in their 50s, waived their anonymity to allow Manning to be publicly identified.

Lynch and Doherty, who are represented by Donal Spring and Company Solicitors, have brought civil proceedings against Manning, the Minister for Education, the Congregation of Christian Brothers and the Board of Management of Westland Row CBS seeking damages for the abuse they suffered.

The head of the Christian Brothers congregation Brother David Gibson has been added to the proceedings.

Similar but separate proceedings have been brought before the High Court by the other two survivors of Manning’s abuse, Kieran Best from Tallaght, Dublin and Thomas O’Callaghan of Rathoath, Co Meath.

Pre-trial motions in Lynch and Doherty’s cases were mentioned before a vacation sitting of the High Court earlier this week.

Ms Justice Eileen Roberts was told that the arising out of a recent position adopted by the congregation, the Christian Brothers were no longer putting forward a nominee in civil claims where the order is being sued by persons who allege they were abused by brothers.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that unincorporated associations such as religious orders cannot be sued directly and that cases must be brought against the members of the order at the time of the alleged wrongdoing.

A congregation can select someone to act as its nominee, but the Christian Brothers has opted not to do this, the court heard.

In order to progress their claims against the Christian Brothers, the plaintiffs are required to sue all those members of congregation at the time of the alleged abuse who are still alive.

To do that the plaintiffs require the names and addresses of those individuals.

Due to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the EU’s privacy and data protection requirements, the Brothers say that information can’t be handed over in the absence of a court order.

As a result, the plaintiffs sought court orders against Brother Gibson seeking the names and addresses of the relevant living persons.

Similar orders have been granted in other cases against the congregation, the court also heard.

The court heard that Brother Gibson neither opposed nor consented to the orders being made.

After considering the applications, Ms Justice Roberts said that she was satisfied to grant the orders sought by Lynch and Doherty.

Brother Gibson’s lawyers argued that no order for costs be made in the matter, meaning the sides would pay their legal costs in this matter.

However, the judge agreed with the plaintiff’s lawyers that costs should be reserved, and that discrete issue should be determined by the courts at a later stage of the proceedings.

Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing. 

Author
Aodhan O Faolain