There is a sadness in Father Brian D’Arcy’s piercing blue eyes as he watches a rally held in support of alleged sex abuse victims in the centre of Enniskillen.

There are moving scenes and he wells up with emotion. Staring at the placards calling for justice for those abused as children and listening to the cries of those men and women whose lives were allegedly destroyed, he feels a sense of aching anxiety.

His smile fades and through the pain his mind wanders back slowly over his life. He knows what it is like to feel that crippling sense of isolation because he too was sexually abused.

“I can see myself in them,” Fr. Brian admits, looking back at the crowd as we cross the street from the Diamond and head towards the Broadmeadow close to Enniskillen Castle.

“And I can also see that unless there’s a change of attitude, life will get worse rather than better”.

He speaks from experience. He believes that those who have been abused in Fermanagh should “take responsibility” for how they live their lives today while accepting “it takes a long time”.

“They have got to stop concentrating on those who abuse and it takes great insight to be able to do that, but that’s the only healing.

“Revenge, talking about them, putting them up there [points to his head], means that that person is still abusing them, because they still have control over them.”

Paedophilia is “sick but is not a sickness”, he said, believing it to be “something that can be managed and be controlled but they [the abusers] decide not to control it”.

“There has to be responsibility for the actions of an adult person who will deliberately manipulate a child's life so that they can abuse them, and not only that, scare them into saying that they can do nothing about it. That's not a sickness, that’s a preconceived idea. We have got to get that into our heads,” he said.

There have been dozens of sex abuse claims reported in this newspaper since March and some of them relate to named individuals allegedly abusing more than once. Asked if an abuser ever stops, Fr. Brian said: “Does an abuser ever stop? I don't know the answer to that question. Can abuse be changed? Yes and that depends on the person themselves who is the abuser. If they're willing enough to accept responsibility without making excuses for what they've done, yes there’s hope then of managing activity and managing their life in a different way.

“But you see if we make it an Us versus Them thing as many today in that rally we're doing, then that isn't successful.

“You keep calling them savages you know, that's not a great way, because then you say that only savages do that. Actually no, it’s very ordinary people who do that.”

We have seen that in the pages of this newspaper; the widespread abuse of power whether it's in schools or in churches, on board buses or in homes, by businessmen or Orangemen, by childminders or youth workers.

“It’s abuse, is abuse, is abuse,” said Fr. Brian. “The great physical abuse; the symptom is that it affects you emotionally, spiritually, and medically”.

I ask him if that’s what happened to him and if he still feels that way today at the age of 74.

“Yes”, he replies, then he is silent for a moment. When he pauses the sound of children playing along the Broadmeadow can be heard yards away – the picture of innocence.

“It happens to everybody,” he said with a whisper, “It happens to everybody”.

“You still have to manage it. All the days of my life I am still trying to manage it. I have had to say to myself, hold on a minute, I am letting them abuse me again.

“I couldn't help it as a child and as a youngster, I can help it now, so I took control of my own life again; and I don't care what they do with me, they are not going to destroy my peace of mind again. You never get over it, it haunts you to the day that you die, it haunts you at different stages of your life.”

He says he cannot guarantee that he will always be in control of his life.

“At this moment I am in control yes, but I’ve no guarantee that something on the radio might come on tomorrow and I won’t be in control of my life”.

He has this week released his second memoir ‘It has to be said’ which looks back on his 50 years in the priesthood with a particular emphasis on the abuse he faced as a young priest. He found himself transported back to that young boy growing up in the village of Bellanaleck outside Enniskillen. He said he had to reflect in that way.

“Oh yes, you do, you have to put yourself in that position once again and… at many points in your life you’re not capable of doing that you know, just for whatever sorts of reasons, it could be health, it could be you know where you're at in life changing your life, it could be anything; so I had to do that, and it's why for example, I'm on the other side of it in ministry when people come to me about it.

“Generally speaking, there are two serious hallmarks in people's lives when it reveals itself, when the person allows themselves to actively a) acknowledge abuse and b) that it wasn't their fault. One is when they have children who happen to be at the age that they were when they were abused, it’s a huge hallmark in people’s lives, many can’t even do it then. The other is believe it or not, at the end of their life and they see grandchildren,” he said.

“I was the perfect candidate for abuse,” he said, remarking how he was a country boy and living away from home when he was abused by two clerics; the first when he was nine years old.

“I was away from home lodging with adults in my aunt's house, feeling that I was worthless, because I had to do something to pay for my way. I was absolutely the perfect victim, and you know, the Brother that saw me playing in the room and called me in to his room while the rest of them were out playing, was a skilled man at manipulating. And that’s where the abuse took place, at lunch hour for several months,” he said.

Fr. Brian said he had no understanding of what was going on.

“I thought I was his pet in the beginning, and you know, I was being used by him for his own self-gratification and so forth, and I was totally innocent of it; except that I knew after some time there was something wrong, mainly because I could find my clothes being wet and there was no need for them to be wet,” he said.

It was at that moment he realised that he was being abused and he was scare because he was convinced that he was acting inappropriately.

“I thought my parents may have thought that I was helping somebody to be sexually irresponsible, that I was committing as big a sin as they were, maybe a bigger sin.

“It was a feeling of shame, , fear that I’ll never get out, fear that the people who we’re staying with us would get to know about it, fear that my parents would get to know about it, and just trying to do all you could in your power to be right with God; go to Mass every morning, saying prayers in the evening, doing good to people, trying to wash myself of what I thought was a sin.”

I ask how he was able to practice his faith knowing what someone who was supposed to be doing God’s work had done to him.

“I appreciate you asking the question, but a nine-year-old doesn't ask that question, a nine-year-old isn't capable of asking that question,” he replies. “If a nine-year-old was capable of asking that question, they would be capable of defending themselves from abuse”.

He would be abused again when he was 17-years-old while studying to be a priest at Mount Argus.

“There was a guy, a priest who was a well-known priest, wonderful preacher, boy’s retreats and men’s retreats, everything else; and he asked the rector when he got sick, could I be the one who brought him up his lunch. And again, I thought it was a great privilege to be able to do this, but I was doing it as looking after the sick was what you should be doing, and the first day he wanted to be you know, massaged, etc. I thought that was bad and get out of it, and the second time he raped me, or tried to rape me.”

Rather than tell anyone about it Fr. Brian kept it to himself.

“I did nothing. I got out of it and said nothing, because he told me if you mention it, ‘you will never be a priest’. I couldn't feel that I could tell anybody about that. I actually had to say his funeral Mass actually later, I was his superior leader”.

He said he had to “leave all judgments to God”. When I ask him if he, as a priest, is “all about forgiveness”, he replies: “No”. Then when I ask him if he has forgiven the men who abused him, he says: “It’s not my job to forgive them, that’s God's job to forgive them. I reclaim my life and get on with it. It’s none of my business.

“God judges those people and so you know, I can spend my life trying to waste doing something… so what difference does it make whether I judge them or not? No, it's no value to anybody, including them.”

He admits writing his book, reading about the testimonies of alleged sex abuse victims in this newspaper has opened old wounds.

“You accept that you're vulnerable, you accept that you have compassion, and if you accept that you're a vulnerable human being with compassion you will be hurt. And as part of the choice to be compassionate and vulnerable, part of that choice is to allow yourself to be hurt again, and so that's it.

“I'm just a human being, I'm no different to anybody else, but I manage it, because I know I can manage it now, and I know the more in the open it is I don't have to pretend anything to anybody now,” he said.

As he gets older he finds his childhood trauma more difficult to accept.

“I find it very difficult to accept how those people live their lives; thought they were holy, said Mass, preached, heard Confessions. How did they live and do that and think they were doing right with God?

“So, I said to myself ‘if you can fool yourself, deceive yourself to that level’. And they weren't always bad men, I could call them savages, etc, I could dismiss them as that, but they weren't. And that’s why you have to try to have that degree of honesty and integrity in your life. Part of that full attempt to be really honest and human, is that I'm still vulnerable and I'm still likely to cry when I think of what happened to me,” he said, getting visibly upset.

He refers to the dozens of reports in The Impartial Reporter on child sex abuse this year, recalling how he tried to highlight similar issues in the church “all my life”.

“It's a lonely place to be, it certainly was for me a lonely place to be and one of the things that happens is that they [critics] manipulate you into isolation. And when they manipulate you into isolation, they're saying ‘what's that guy on, what's up with him that he's doing that?’ “And that's how you're manipulated to think. So you do need backup and you do need to constantly check it, and you do need the support because if you don’t, it will get to you.

“You can't deal with evil all the time and not be a victim of evil in some way yourself,” he said.

His eyes water once again, never one to shirk his commitment to standing up for what he believes in.

“Let somebody else work for justice, or condemnation, or punishment for the victim. Let somebody else do that, but all I can do is look after myself.

“How can I have a worthwhile life? How can I release myself from the clutches of the abuser, so that the people who abused me are not still doing it from the grave? If they're still doing it from the grave, it’s because I'm allowing them,” he said.

‘It has to be said’ by Brian D’Aracy is available in shops now.