Irish News

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Bishop Reilly admits 'it was terrible' that sex abuse priest was left in post

Gordon Deegan, Ralph Riegel and Sarah MacDonald

Published 13/05/2014|02:30

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Bishop of Killaloe Kieran O'Reilly
Bishop of Killaloe Kieran O'Reilly

A BISHOP has admitted that it was "a terrible thing" that an abusive priest was allowed to remain in ministry after complaints of sex abuse had been made against him.

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Bishop of Killaloe Dr Kieran O'Reilly said that it was "inexcusable" that 'Father A' remained an active priest until he retired in 1993.

The priest is the late Fr Tom McNamara, who served in the east Clare area of Mountshannon-Whitegate area during the 1970s to 1990s.

A report by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) reported that there were 26 complaints of abuse concerning 'Father A'.

Dr O'Reilly confirmed that the late Bishop of Killaloe Dr Michael Harty had referred 'Father A' to therapy.

He said: "It is a terrible thing that happened and we apologise for it."

Dr O'Reilly said: "Dr Harty did his very best within the limits of understanding of that time and as we know, it goes beyond this diocese.

"That is no excuse – it is a terrible thing that happened."

Yesterday saw the fifth tranche of audits published by the National Board, which covered four dioceses and five religious congregations.

It said that major progress had been made by the Diocese of Cloyne in enhancing child protection standards over the past three years.

New changes proposed include a new whistleblowers' policy in the sprawling east Cork diocese. The Bishop of Cloyne, Dr William Crean, said that work was already under way in implementing this and several other recommendations.

The 2009 Murphy Report into clerical sex abuse was highly critical of failings by former Bishop Dr John Magee and his child protection delegate, Vicar-General Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan.

Dr Crean, who was appointed bishop last year, repeated an apology to anyone "who suffered abuse at the hands of a minority of priests in Cloyne".

The NBSCCC reviewers praised the commitment to safeguarding children in the Diocese of Meath and Archdiocese of Dublin.

The audit revealed that the costs to date to the Archdiocese of Dublin in the settlement of claims relating to child sexual abuse by priests was €20.4m.

Of this, €14m was paid in settlements and €6.4m was paid in legal costs for both sides.

Meanwhile, it found the Presentation Brothers breached their own child-protection guidelines by failing to immediately report allegations of child sexual abuse to the gardai and HSE.

Brother Andrew Hickey, of the Presentation Brothers, said: "I take responsibility for the error and apologise for this reporting failure."

And the vast majority of the allegations concerning the Columban missionaries involved a man known as 'PM' who was a priest from 1960 until his suspension in 2000.

This refers to Patrick Maguire, a 75-year-old who has been convicted both in the UK and Ireland. He is currently living under a strict regime with the Columban Fathers in Dalgan Park, in Navan, Co Meath.

Elsewhere, allegations were made against six members of the Divine Word Missionaries. The audit reviewers said they were "very concerned about the potential risks involving one member, who has admitted to extensive abuse of children in mission countries over a 20-year period, but against whom there are no complaints".

The review also identified the co-existence of Glenstal's boarding school on the same campus as a monastery, housing 39 monks and a guest house, as a child safeguarding challenge.

Two monks against whom an allegation was made are still living in the community.

The reviewers praised the diocese of Killaloe for removing four accused priests from ministry promptly. None of the 15 members of the Patrician Brothers accused of 22 incidents of abuse has been convicted, the NBSCCC review also showed.

* Connect is available for free telephone-based counselling to those affected by the NBSCCC reports. Freephone 1800 477 477 from the Republic and 00800 477 477 77 from Northern Ireland and the UK, Wednesday to Sunday 6pm-10pm.

Irish Independent

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