Cork boarding school sex abuse claims: HSE launches probe
Published 31/08/2011 | 05:00
The Health Service Executive (HSE) is to conduct an investigation into allegations that pupils at a boarding school were sexually abused in the past while it was being run by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
The allegations related to Colaiste an Chroi Naofa in Carraig Na Bhfear, Co Cork, in the 1980s and early 1990s and were highlighted in the Seanad by Senator Mark Daly under parliamentary privilege.
Seven abuse complaints were made by six men and one woman against the school's former principal Fr Donncha MacCarthaigh, who has denied any wrongdoing.
He was a Cork GAA county selector and trainer between 1986 and 2008. In the late 1980s he stepped aside as principal and became a career guidance counsellor in the school. He was put on restricted ministry in the mid-1990s.
Gordon Jeyes, the HSE national director for children and families, announced yesterday it would begin an inquiry.
He said the inquiry would co-operate with the gardai and asked anyone who had any information to come forward.
Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald and Justice Minister Alan Shatter welcomed the decision.
They were assured that nobody against whom allegations have been made "were currently engaged in any work activities which bring them into contact with children".
Another former teacher at the school, Fr Tadhg Daly, was convicted of 10 sample counts of indecent assault of a 12-year-old former pupil in 1999 and sentenced to three years in prison.
Senator Daly said the first complaint of sexual abuse against Fr MacCarthaigh was in 1986. Although he was put on restricted ministry a decade later, he has been saying Mass and regularly leaves the country wearing a priest's collar.
Under restricted ministry he is to "refrain from being identified as a Roman Catholic priest".
The National Board for Safeguarding Children confirmed it is also investigating the order's child protection policy and handling of complaints.
The school is currently a day co-educational voluntary school attended by 450 pupils. It is run by a board of management representing trustees, parents and staff.