Abuse group founder Phyllis Morgan ‘forced’ to retire

Published: July 28, 2011
by TOM FOOT

A SURVIVOR of Irish convent abuse who set up a pioneering group to help victims living in London says she has been pushed out of her job because of her age.

Outreach worker Phyllis Morgan, 66, will leave the London Irish Centre at Camden Square tomorrow (Friday).

She has worked there for more than 10 years, running the London Irish Survivors Outreach Ser­vice and helping thousands of victims who were abused in religious convents as children. Ms Morgan said: “I love my work and I don’t see why I should have to leave because of my age. They are doing this before the law changes.”

New rules banning employers from firing staff because they have reached the retirement age comes into effect in October.

David Barlow, the Irish Centre’s new director, said its board had been in retirement talks with Ms Morgan for two years.

He told the New Journal that her contract had been temporarily extended when she reached 65 but that to comment further would break employment rules.

Mr Barlow stressed that the service was not closing and that board members had been in talks with Irish ministers this week about the continued funding of the project.

He added: “Services for victims of abuse will continue.

“The London Irish Centre takes its commitment to survivors very seriously.”

Ms Morgan was a victim of the physical and mental abuse suffered by tens of thousands of children placed in the care of Catholic religious orders.

At the age of three, she was separated from her mother and placed in the full-time care of nuns.

She told how she would eat pig food because it was better than what was offered to her. “We were treated worse than pigs,” she added.

Ms Morgan said she spent her entire childhood at three convents in the Dublin area, where she claims the nuns abused her.

“Children were placed in these convents for various reasons,” she said.

“They were all over Ireland and many fled to come here to Camden. The are all such a vulnerable group.

“They are not able to hold down jobs because they were so damaged – many were repeatedly raped.

“Many live in dire homes and we get them into better homes. We help them get compensation. We have made a difference to so many lives. It is unbelievable how busy we are.”

The last of the 132 convents of this kind was shut down in 1986. The Irish government issued guidance following an inquiry in 2009 that a state-funded support service should be provided for all victims.

The Camden-based survivors service is funded by Ireland’s Department of Education and costs around £94,000 a year.