Assigned to a quiet corner of Ireland's most remote county, Martin Ridge was heading for retirement after a long career with An Garda Síochána, the Irish police force. All that changed when a call from a local priest set in motion what would become the most horrific sex abuse investigation the island had ever known.
At Christmas 1997 a local priest Fr Eugene Greene reported to the Gardaí that a man had tried to blackmail him. This call, an act of hubris, set in motion a Garda investigation that revealed him to be a serial abuser of children. As word of the investigation spread, 26 men came forward. Most were from the tiny Irish-speaking parish of Gort an Choirce. All had been abused by Greene as children.
Soon after, another man came forward to say that he had been sexually abused by a local schoolteacher, Denis McGinley. As Ridge dug deeper, he discovered that McGinley had been systematically abusing children in his classroom for decades. He had at least 50 victims.
The Greene and McGinley cases both involved the Catholic Church. Greene was a priest, and McGinley a teacher in a Catholic school answerable to religious managers. As Ridge investigated, he discovered that the Church knew about the abuse, but ignored the problem.
Brilliantly written and unsparing in its fidelity to the truth, Breaking the Silence is more than an account of a police investigation: it’s the story of an entire community’s struggle to come to terms with its betrayal by those in whom it placed the most trust.
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About the Author
Martin Ridge is a retired member of An Garda Siochana, the Irish police force.
Gerard Cunningham is a freelance journalist living in Co Kildare. A native of West Donegal, he writes for local and national outlets on topics as varied as crime and courts, politics, new technology, and local history, with a particular interest in archaeology and early Celtic society. He also works as a sub editor, designer and on occasion as a photographer. Gerard is the author of two books, Chaos and Conspiracy, published in April 2009, and Breaking the Silence (along with Martin Ridge). He also worked as consultant editor on Charades, by Karen McGlinchey.