Vigil to be held for abuse victims as inquiry begins

St Ninian's in Falkland closed in 1983
St Ninian's in Falkland closed in 1983

A man who suffered horrific sexual abuse at the hands of priests at a Fife school is staging a vigil tomorrow (Wednesday) as the Scottish child abuse inquiry gets under way.

Dave Sharp, now 58, spent six years at the then St Ninian’s School in Falkland, where from the age of 10 he says he was brutally raped, drugged, beaten, shut in a coffin with the lid closed and even taken to Ireland to be passed around men at sex parties.

His abuser, Father Gerry Ryan, has since died, but two men were jailed last year for abusing boys at St Ninian’s between 1977 and 1983.

Following his ordeal, Dave slept rough on the streets and succumbed to drink and drunk addiction.

But he’s now a campaigner for other abuse survivors and has set up a charity, SAFE – Seek and Find Everyone – with the aim of encouraging them to come forward and make their voices heard.

The vigil will be held all day tomorrow outside Rosebery House, Edinburgh, where the long-awaited inquiry is due to begin.

Survivors from all over Scotland and Ireland will attend and at 1pm a candle will be lit and a piper will play Highland Cathedral.

“It will not be a religious or a political occasion,” said Dave.

“We want to draw attention to the plight of the thousands of victims who haven’t had the courage to come forward or whose lives have been ruined by addiction or who have committed suicide.”

St Ninian’s in Falkland, which opened in 1957, was run by the Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious order founded in Ireland in 1802 by a wealthy businessman for the purpose of educating poor Catholic boys.

In the early 2000s, its reputation was marred when widespread abuse was uncovered in Ireland.

Dave, who now lives in Northampton, was sent there in 1970 following the death of his mother and was separated from his five siblings.