A former armed robber and associate of some of Dublin's most infamous gangland figures has claimed that many of those who became involved in crime did so due to the abuse they suffered in residential institutions such as the notorious Artane Boys School.
Jimmy 'The Whale' Gantley (57), who served four years for armed robbery in Mountjoy prison between 1987 and 1991 but has since turned his life around to become a playwright and author, is planning to stage his first play at the Tivoli theatre in Dublin next month.
He grew up in Dublin's inner city and knew well-known figures in the criminal fraternity such as Martin 'The General' Cahill, Larry Dunne, who first introduced widespread heroin importation into Ireland, and George 'The Penguin' Mitchell.
AbUSed Again tells the story of four men who meet in a Dublin pub and discuss the possibility of seeking compensation from the state redress board for the abuse they experienced at the hands of the clergy in the 1950s and '60s.
Over the course of the play, which Gantley says is based on his personal knowledge of a number of abuse victims, the extent of the impact of the abuse on their lives emerges.
He told the Sunday Tribune that following the publication of the Ryan report into abuse in residential institutions, he was anxious to give a voice to "all the people who are lying in Letterfrack, or in Australia and the likes" and who never had a voice. The play, written in 2004, has so far only been performed in workshop form.
Gantley said he believed a large number of those who emerged from such institutions went on to a life of crime because they had "no respect for anyone" as a result of the horrific abuse they received.
"Don't forget this was all built-up rage or anger. They would tell their ma that this or that brother is abusing me, and she would tell them to shut up out of that or I'll give you a clatter," he said. "Most people who went into Artane and all the industrial schools were classed as gurriers, and they obviously reacted to that. So they were a breeding ground or warehouse for running criminals. They absolutely came out of them homes with no respect for anyone."
The play is due to be directed by Graham Watts, and will have its premiere at the Tivoli theatre in Dublin next month. It is hoped that it will run for around four weeks.
Gantley said there was also "talk" of it transferring to London, and possibly the United States. However, the overall cost of staging the show will be around €50,000, and he is attempting to raise sponsorship.
Tickets are priced at €30 and €20, with a reduced price of €15 for the unwaged and survivors of abuse.
More information is available from the Tivoli theatre box office, or via 01 473 4241 or 087-3197358.
Get off to a profitable sports betting start today at sportsbetting.co.uk