Abuse of Power in Places of Recovery

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This story will be told in detail in the coming weeks. The gentleman who wrote it arrived safely in Limerick yesterday evening. As you will read below; this is only a brief account of the horrific experience he suffered at the hands of people who are supposed to have compassion but they don’t. Cuan Mhuire was founded by Sister Consilio Fitzgerald, for whom people have the highest admiration, but down the years she has lost control sadly. Some of the staff now believe they have the right to bully and abuse vulnerable people. I want to find out like others what really is going on behind the walls at Bruree, Co. Limerick. The doctor overseeing that establishment presides over what could be classified as a concentration camp run by little Hitlers. My friend was left at a bus stop in the heat; he was offered no water but he contacted people in Dublin and eventually arrived safely at a hotel in Limerick.

Again I ask people to come forward because I am sure there are many more stories like this. Bruree appears to be run through fear and bullying and I will be writing to the HSE and the Charities Regulators (Eamon Timmins) to see who is funding the people who don’t care. This is to be continued.

Based on a friend’s assurance through administrator Eileen that the Cuan Mhuire recovery centre at Bruree would be suitable as a retreat for a long-term recovered alcoholic with remaining symptoms of anxiety & depression, I travelled cross country to arrive at Bruree reception late Sunday evening.

In my entry interview I was told for the first time that I had to surrender all communication devices, including anything electronic. This developed into an awkward conversation with the admitting nurse and the counseling priest, since my friend had already told the staff that I would need to be working a light schedule on the computer daily.

After the last train had already departed for Dublin for the evening, the conclusion of that conversation was that I was perfectly free to “take a week off and get my affairs in order.” In other words, refusing to surrender the communication devices on immediate notice would have left me on the street for the night in Charleville (a farming town).

All I had asked for was an hour or so to send a few pieces of email to friends, family and colleagues that would explain my sudden disappearance from phone and email for an indeterminate period. All I was given was time enough to send one explanatory email & phone call while the “facilitator” on duty for the night stood and watched.

After that I was allowed to pull some key items out of my bags according to their admission standards. I had been recently travelling for a long period in search of a non surgical treatment for an orthopaedic condition, with good results from over the counter, non-prescription medicines. I was not allowed any of these medicines despite arriving in obvious pain.

There was a more rigorous search the following morning with the result that my belongings, which had been carefully sorted during a six-month journey, were randomly distributed between at least six different bags which were to be held in different places by different staff according to rules which were impossible to keep track of.

The first morning I met a doctor from whom I had to practically beg to be allowed to keep two bottles of well documented vitamin pills (Vitamin C & Vitamin B complex) that are standard issue in drug & alcohol rehabilitation centres all over the world. I explained that I suffer from Achilles tendinosis for which the only current solution is pain management, and for which I only take adult strength aspirin (325mg), but the doctor wrote in my chart that I was only authorised to take baby aspirin (75mg) as if I had told him I’d had a heart condition instead. This led me to spend my first 24 hours in the Centre in unremitting pain until the release of the first of my asprin pills was finally authorised.

I won’t criticise the lack of activities at the Centre which are paced in favour of a twelve-week rehabilitation cycle. I heard several people in their first two weeks literally talking about “going mad” with boredom. There was a “reading room” on the hallway which I thought would have a well stocked library, but only had three discarded paperbacks.

I was later told that 1) a “Sister Agnes” had every book in that reading room incinerated in the last month, stipulating that there were to be no non-Catholic books on the premises, and that 2) if you were reading any non compliant book, you had better keep it hidden: otherwise it would be discarded.

I had with me an old, non Internet enabled Kindle with a number of spiritual & self-help books, and I renewed an enquiry to have it released from custody after I realised that the only thing to do there was read paper books (effectively prohibited as well). I offered for them to inspect the Kindle and verify 1) there was no Internet access from it, and 2) that my books were all compliant with healthy recovery standards.

The admitting officer Eileen said, in apparent contradiction of her initial conversation with my friend: “There’s no way that will ever happen” with the reason that if any devices were seen in use by any other member, then they would ALL want access to their own devices. I was also told “We won’t know what’s on it” even though I offered to show them the entire contents of the Kindle. As most people would have, I took this as a violation of good faith.

During lunch time after my second morning there (today, 03 July) I was abruptly ordered out of my seat by an administrator Bernadette (who never introduced herself to me; I had to gather her name second-hand) to a closed-door meeting with Sister Agnes which was like an interrogation. They demanded in a manner I thought ill befitting either a religious person or a health care worker what I was doing in a rehabilitation centre when I was 10 years sober, which implied that I had misled them.

The close friend who had made the arrangements for me to stay there had been trying to get in touch with me past the communication barriers, and had been repeatedly been put off even though he had important news about my family and my own long term health issues. The disturbing nature of the communication blackout had led to tense conversations between him and the staff, for which the management were now holding me responsible.

The question “What are you doing here?” was asked a number of different ways even though I had already given them a complete description of my medical issues and recovery history two days earlier at the entry interview. I understood that this “interview” was an expulsion and I apologised for any inconvenience the last two days had caused, and for any assumption that the centre at Bruree was a “retreat” that would be suitable for recovering alcoholics with post acute withdrawal symptoms.

They seemed satisfied with this conclusion and said they would have me on the first train out, and that I should be ready to leave within about a half hour. At this point all the items I had been travelling with for over six months were scattered in at least a half dozen bags. The manager Bernadette repeatedly asked for me to commit to a leaving time even though I hadn’t been given my mobile phone back yet and couldn’t even have begun to make arrangements for where I would be going next.

After this “interview” when I returned for my mobile phone, she had gone through the amount of cash I had left, taking out the fees for staying at the Centre (without providing a receipt let alone an inventory of what I was being charged for), and concluded, based on this count of my apparent funds, that “I didn’t have enough money for the train” and therefore could only afford the bus.

Finally I was able to get my scattered items together and repack the case and computer bag I had arrived with. A carton of duty free cigarettes had been kept in an undisclosed location (I was told they would be kept in my larger suitcase and hadn’t checked), and only the facilitator (himself a graduated patient) stopped me on the way out and asked if I’d double checked for the carton of cigarettes. I asked and sure enough, the cigarettes had not been included in my returned items.

They had said they would “drop me at the bus station in Limerick” but after 5 minutes of driving I was left on the side of the main road up to Limerick at the Bus Éireann stop, being told I could make the rest of the way on my own and that the bus stopped every hour. After a half hour of waiting I was able to pay the Bus Éireann driver €10 for the remaining trip up to Limerick station, roughly 48 hours after arriving at Charleville for my rehabilitative stay at Bruree.


  1. Just summarising the above article, I have to say, one of my neighbours had a similar experience in Bruree three or four years ago. He had been binge drinking for a couple of years and with the advice of his then partner, now former, and a priest – his bags were packed and he landed in his own words now in that concentration camp in Bruree. John as we will call him, arrived on a Thursday afternoon and was greeted by two of the nuns foot soldiers. His partner at the time was told she could leave. John told the story in his own words to me about a year after the three weeks he stayed there. On that Thursday afternoon, he was taken into an interview room where a nun and a nurse interrogated him for a full hour and a half. He was questioned about how long it was since his last intake of alcohol; where did he work; he was asked for a genetic profile of his family and addiction, and then the nurse sitting beside the nun, out of the blue, uttered the words, we had a long conversation with your partner on the phone some days ago and she informed us that you have stopped going to mass and confessions and that your sex life is practically zero. John told me he was speechless and he replied – it is none of your fucking business. All of a sudden Sister the hatchet replied ‘you are a project now, we own you for a whole month and you will abide by our rules otherwise we will phone your partner and tell her that you are rude and arrogant and not to be trusted. Take him Home.

    John kept his head down, the food he said was a reminder spartan and the Rosary was said every evening. If you complained about anything you were made stand in a corridor and they would make the other inmates (term used) turn on you for being a weakling and non believer of the true Church. Sister the Hatchet would repeat the words – the only road to Heaven is the Vatican and whatever sins you all have, you must do repentance for me. You have no privacy, even in the shower, and your Dignity was swiped away like a thief in the night. After two weeks, John tried to escape and was caught sleeping in a farmer’s shed trying to get back to Dublin when the Gestapo police caught him and brought him back to the mad house. The third week became so hostile he was allowed one phone call when his partner accused him of bullying the staff and the nun and then he exploded. He screamed at the front door: get the fucking Gardai from Limerick now, I am a free man and have rights. This place is driving people out of their minds and into pubs. Eventually a decent member of staff calmed the situation. John had his bags packed and he was dropped off like the above at a bus stop and had to find his way back to Dublin which took three days. His marriage broke up, and only a year later he found out that she had run off with a staff member; they had a phone relationship that developed further. Today, he is happy. He found out he was never an alcoholic; he is working and he has a meaningful relationship. He now, in his spare time, speaks to people with addictions, like binge drinking and helps the homeless. John has never forgotten his experiences in that Bruree camp and I for one am pleading with people to come forward because there must be hundreds out there who are afraid to speak out. Bruree and the one in Athy get almost £10 million pa of taxapayers money from the HSE for the purpose of helping people; add to this charitable donations but the public have a right to know the truth about the bullying, intimidation, and the assaults mentally and physically that goes on behind the walls of Our Lady Rest in harmony. I am sure that more will come forward.

    Tonight I am wondering is there much of a difference between Cuan Mhuire and the undertaking by Scientology to build a centre at Ballivor, because it appears they both share the same ingredients in breaking the spirits within people.


  2. “Who watches the watchers” From a quote in Latin nothing changes over the centuries when people are placed in positions of power and those who are vulnerable and worse still meek in nature are subjucated and basically abused, emotionally, socially, and in some cases physically. The Bullying Culture is alive and well in Ireland especially in those organisations that gain their funds from the HSE or charitable events. We never ask the question about the costs of administration to run the charities; The Americans do through “Give Well” and other such companies and no doubt other countries have similar safety nets. Ireland most definitely does not.

    We may however be moving in the right direction with newly appointed Charities Regulator.

    “The number of registered charities in Ireland at the end of 2017 rose to over 9,000 charities, with 1757 charities registered for the first stime duing the year. There are 9,061 registered charities at the end of 2017, compared to 8,003 12 months previously….” Taken from Charity Regulator’s annual report published June 2018

    We are aware of the number of scandals from Console to Conlon who is in a Swiss prison to Victory Church (Hade family) but it is interesting to see what The Charities Regulator reports:-

    “It received 531 individual concerns from the public in respect of 351 organisations during the year. This marked a 66% increase in the number of concerns received in 2016. Three-quarters of the concerns raised issues that related to financial control and transparency, the legitimacy of an organisation and governance issues”

    Who watches the watchers? It is advisable for people to scrutinise charities and for the media to report on discrepancies. It is not acceptable to have 75% of proceeds going to the administration of the charity. This would not happen in the UK or America.

    Ask questions: for example why would the Irish Cancer Society need a house so large on Northumberland Road when you find a cancer patient trying to use public transport for 2 hours to get treatment. Like the public sector; a solid cost benefit analysis should be on the agenda for the next board meeting; and the media should also do some investigative journalism revealing that people are watching.

    Why is media so quiet about Scientology treatment for addiction centre near Trim. They openly don’t believe in psychiatric health conditions; and there treatment will not abide by our Medical standards.


    Liked by 2 people

  3. Not to antagonise the Charities Regulator or any of their staff or supporters, but we were promised a good long look at Irish charities in the interest of visibility and culling out the non-compliant:


    The title: “‘If you’re transparent you’ll survive, if you’re not you won’t’: The Charities Regulator wants to hear from the public.” But I’m still waiting to hear of a case where misfeasance by a charity worker was ever taken seriously upon report to the Regulator, while well documented cases of creative accounting and misuse of grant money are being dismissed as irrelevant unless coming from business stakeholders.

    The comments immediately above are very appropriate & the article itself documents yet another case where visibility needs to be demanded from a well-funded charity in response to credible and consistent complaints.

    John Farrelly’s quoted words in this article (“I want to hear from them. Not anybody else but directly from them – how we can help them ensure that we’re doing the job properly.”) need to apply to charity volunteers and the donating public, not just the charity bureaucrats… i.e., the ones with the most to hide whenever an organisation’s Charitable Purpose is called into question.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In Cuan Mhuire which we all know means Our Lady’s rest, there lies of bitterness, control, fear and intimidation. When the poor unfortunate men and women (segregated) are enrolled they must stay for five days in their pyjamas, then after the five days, they are allowed wear clothes but are not allowed leave the building for two weeks. This provokes a strong reminder of public mental hospitals in which a patient is enclosed for a period of time but then this would be controlled by the Mental Health act.

    I would like to ask a question now: Who gives Sr Agnes and her cohorts the legal authority to treat people as if they are sub-human? In AA you go to a meeting, you have the right to stand up and tell your story or to put it another to share your experience without fear or favour, but in Bruree, people have no rights because it is run by Agnes and cohorts through again I repeat fear and intimidation. I ask the Charity Regulator today if we passed the Bill three years ago on Equality for all people, does this include people with alcohol problems, mental health problems from the abuse of alcohol, those with gambling addictions and other addictions? Are the those people mentioned – not under the Equality bill also? Are vulnerable people not entitled to their dignity and more importantly to be given respect at all times, just the same way as we give Gay people and Lesbian now the respect they have now, and deservedly so?

    Equality is for all and I would like to ask a question now to Bernadette, project manager, who gave you the right to treat people with disdain and also to assault people in full view of a gathering. I also want to ask Bernadette and Sr Agnes as to who gave you the legal authority to act as Stasi police and detain somebody in a locked room for a long period and interrogate them. Do we know about people who commit suicide following treatment at the hands of these cohorts?

    Sr Concilio must know what is going on behind the walls at Bruree and if she does not know I will be sending the information on to her immediately.

    I also would like to ask Dr Corrigan the salary which he draws down each month for treating the vulnerable at Bruree with disdain. Corrigan, I say to you now that you took and oath to treat people with care and dignity but you know that you do the opposite when it comes to the patients in Bruree. Would you treat your private patients the same way Dr Corrigan? I doubt it very much. There is a major cover-up at Bruree, and again I am asking the Charity Regulator to do a dawn raid. Sit people down and ask them to speak without fear and let the State know what treatment they are getting at the hands of Agnes and her cohorts on a daily and weekly basis.

    The late Judge Reilly, for whom I had the highest respect, who was the Inspector of Prisons, would go into prisons especially the Juvenile Detention Centres, and he gathered vital information and then he knew that bullying, intimidation, and sometimes starvation went on in these correctional centres.

    We talk about the Industrial Schools of the past, and the Magdalene Laundries, but today when you see what’s happning in Bruree, has anything changed? Well, let me answer it for you: nothing, and to go on further, the problems have got worse. We talk about the Gulags in North Korea and Siberia and people might think I’ve gone over the top (OTT) here, but we have State sponsored Gulags in this country and the taxpayers don’t have a clue what’s going on under their noses.

    To be continued.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The eyewitness in my article above has since reminded me how unusual it seemed at the time that the door was closed in his unannounced and intimidating meeting with the Bruree staff, as if it were a police interrogation. I recalled that teachers have been accused of misconduct, if not kidnapping, for conducting similar interviews with the person their care isolated from the rest of the facility, outnumbered or unable to defend themselves in a vulnerable state. (I invite other readers to post comments with any link or reference to this standard.)

    Also, regarding my friend’s initial interrogation by Dr. Corrigan, my friend has gone into detail about a further deprivation of dignity including this doctor’s alarming lack of chemistry knowledge:

    “Some items were set aside for special scrutiny by doctor Corrigan, like my deodorant. When interrogated about it I said it was a crystal of ammonium aluminium sulphate (a salt, documented as ‘100% ammonium alum’ on the label)… he said he would leave that one with the nurse so *she* could ‘decide if there was any alcohol in it.'”

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  6. Why is something not being done about this abusive, completely disrespectful and damaging behavior. The people who arrive seeking help in bruree are vulnerable and very often in a state of desperation. It may be their last hope to seek help with their addiction. The culture is about controling , demeaning and dehumanizing them. These “ religious “ people should be hanging their heads in shame for all the abuses the Catholic Church is responsible for here and across the world. Why are these people still allowed in positions of power where their behavior is not only abusive and distructive but life destroying.


  7. Nothing is being done about it because recovering alcoholics THINK that they have no hope going up against them,they think who’s going to believe them ? Sad state of affairs when you go in to cuan mhuire bruree for help and leave there ten times worse than you were before you went in , sister Agnes should hang her head in shame for what’s going on behind these walls of horror , but someday very soon the truth will come to light !


  8. Stayed in this concentration camp for 20 week programme on the drug side. Worst experience of my life! All a pack of hypocritical bullies that if you try and stand your ground or question anything they do they gladly will just pack your bags for you and on you go, when you’re in the state you are going into a place like this you just bite your tongue because your on your last legs. The woman herself Agnes is gone senial and hasn’t a clue what she is doing, her little midget minnio Michael Guerin is the one who apparently runs the drugs side. Comes in for a couple of meetings during the day shouts and curses at everyone and makes you feel his size when you leave the meeting.i believe his own childhood experience of bullying plays a big part in the way he carries out his work, if you even want to call it that..after 2 weeks of detox no matter how bad you feel you have to go straight to work, garden kitchen farm etc. Fines for not being where u are supposed to be, fines for smoking, basically fines if you don’t act 100% the way they want. I honestly can’t believe I lasted these 5 months in this place but I had to do it to get my kids back in my life, and every time I tried to explain to someone what was going on nobody believed me because the position I was in but something really needs to be done to expose what really goes on in this concentration camp.. Not one bit of help from these people and the worst food imaginable


  9. Hello,
    I had the misfortune of of seeking “Treatment” in Bruree about 20yrs ago.

    At the time I was a chronic Heroin/Benzo addict of many years.

    One of the worst experiences of my life (I’ve had a few and Bruree is hard to top)

    Sister Consillio realised that treatment was gonna be a big business in Ireland a long time ago.

    Herself and Sr Agnes are blood sisters (aswell as sisters of the “Faith”, a fact they leave out of her bios), Berndette (project manager ) is a niece of theirs. There was a sister of Bernadette there too at the time. One big happy family so to speak.

    In answer to the O.P “Consillio must know what’s going?” Yes I believe she knows well how people are treated.

    In House welfare officer to make sure your stay is financed (if memory serves, I believe rent allowance on each resident too).

    Aswell as millions in grants.

    Where does the money go?

    They grow and harvest most of their own food, almost self sufficient.
    They were also starting a flower business at the time to keep the inmates busy.

    Being stripped of your clothes, given a pair of stripy pj’s and fired in to a damp room for 2 weeks is no way to deal with someone chronically Ill from drug withdrawals.
    Tough love an all that. I’m surprised there are not more suicides in the place.

    Back then they had extremely limited facilities to deal with Heroin addiction and not a clue around mental health.

    Agnes is a 4ft nightmare. She’d give Colonel Rosa Klebb a run for her money.
    The Stasi would be proud of the regime.
    A strangely run establishment, that much I can confirm.

    Has much changed at Bruree house?????

    I had to leave the Irish system to get clean and sober.
    I am lucky to have done so and for that I am eternally grateful.


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