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Friday 22 September 2017

Priest hits back at senator's abuse claim

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

A PRIEST named in the Seanad as a suspected child abuser has broken his silence to protest his innocence.

Fr Donncha Mac Carthaigh also hit out at Senator Mark Daly, who earlier this week used parliamentary privilege to publicly name the member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart order. Mr Daly alleged the order failed to fulfil child-safety guidelines to keep priests suspected of child abuse away from young people.

In his first public statement, Fr Mac Carthaigh last night said he had never been convicted of an offence in the courts. He claimed Mr Daly abused parliamentary privilege -- which protects members from any legal repercussions -- to name an "innocent person".

Fr Mac Carthaigh also strenuously denied his sibling had been involved in investigating an allegation of sexual abuse lodged against him.

In a speech to the Seanad, Mr Daly stated an initial inquiry into a complaint of sexual abuse from the 1980s against Fr Donncha Mac Carthaigh had been investigated by his brother, Fr Ciaran Mac Carthaigh, who had been head of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Order in Ireland. No suggestion of any impropriety or wrongdoing had been made in relation to Fr Ciaran Mac Carthaigh.

Fr Donncha Mac Carthaigh last night said he strenuously "denies the false allegations".

A solicitor on behalf of the priest stated all allegations made against Fr Mac Carthaigh at Colaiste an Chroi Naofa boarding school in Carraig na bhFear, Co Cork, where he had taught, were taken seriously by the order and reported by its delegate to gardai.

Fr Mac Carthaigh said he had "fully co-operated" with investigations. The solicitor stated the DPP decided in each case there was "no case for prosecution".

"Fr Mac Carthaigh is an innocent person. Senator Daly by his abuse of parliamentary privilege has seriously damaged his reputation and good name and has endeavoured to destroy his innocence in law," his solicitor stated.

Monitor

Mr Daly last night said his "one concern is child safety". Addressing the Seanad, Mr Daly said the Sacred Heart Missionaries did not properly monitor Fr Mac Carthaigh's movements. The senator claimed this was despite the priest facing seven sex-abuse allegations, including one allegedly settled out of court.

The priest was placed under a restricted ministry order in 1996, which was intended to limit his travel, work and access to children. However, he went to Fatima and Rome.

The Sacred Heart Missionaries order said it had met with Mr Daly and passed on details of his concerns to gardai and sought guidance from the National Office for Safeguarding Children.

Fr Mac Carthaigh was not a priest in the Diocese of Cloyne and the allegations do not relate to Cloyne.

Irish Independent

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