Friday 20 January 2017

Church audit a whitewash, say abuse victims

Greg Harkin

Published 30/11/2011 | 05:00

VICTIMS of clerical sex abuse have branded a church-authorised audit of a controversial diocese a whitewash and called for a full garda inquiry.

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The audit of the Raphoe Diocese in Co Donegal, compiled by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, will be released at 10am today.

A second audit of the Derry Diocese, which covers Co Derry and parts of counties Tyrone, Donegal and Antrim, will be released an hour later.

But several victims told the Irish Independent that they were not interviewed for the report and had never received an apology from the church.

Slapped

John O'Donnell (55) was abused for six years from the age of nine by a member of a choir. He claims when he made a complaint to gardai when he was 17, he was "slapped around the ear and thrown out of the station".

He claims his complaint to the church wasn't dealt with properly and he had a "very unsatisfactory" meeting with Raphoe Bishop Philip Boyce last August.

Today's reports will focus on how complaints against priests were handled -- with sources saying the Raphoe audit will highlight "serious errors of judgment".

Mr O'Donnell told the Irish Independent: "I know I will be accused of speaking out before publication, but I have lost all faith in this audit because it will be an exercise in going through church paperwork.

"The real story of what happened in Raphoe to hundreds and hundreds of victims will, in my opinion, only come out when there is a full garda investigation or judicial inquiry."

Martin Gallagher (45) was one of the victims of serial rapist Fr Eugene Greene, who was jailed for 12 years in 2000 for dozens of sex offences.

"This report will mean nothing to me," he said yesterday. "There were 26 of us who came forward and probably more than 100 others who didn't.

"I sat in court when he (Greene) was jailed. There were just three of us (victims) there. There was no apology from the church, no counselling offered or anything else.

"I haven't been contacted by anyone in the church for this audit or report. How can they do a report and not talk to the victims? In my case, the church had a chance to stop Greene and it didn't."

He said victims were still "hurting" over the fact that so many people in the parishes where Greene operated contributed to a fund given to the paedophile priest on his release from prison four years ago.

Torture

"I don't know what you can say about people who would give money to a man who pleaded guilty to the rape and torture of children," he said.

Retired Garda Martin Ridge, who brought Greene to justice, told the Irish Independent: "This audit will do nothing for the victims, as far as I can see.

"I will be interested to see what has been found in this audit. When I requested information from the diocese on Greene. . . all I got back was a CV. I was told there were no records of any abuse allegations."

The National Counselling Service is setting up special phone lines today to deal with calls from victims of clerical sex abuse. The freephone number is 1800 303 529.

Irish Independent

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