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Saturday 25 March 2017

Priest unmasked in Seanad lies low as abuse storm grows

David Forsythe and John Cooney

THE priest at the centre of the latest child abuse allegations in Cloyne was lying low yesterday as the senator who publicly named him again blasted his religious order.

Fr Donncha Mac Carthaigh was named under Seanad privilege by Senator Mark Daly as a suspected child abuser.

According to Mr Daly the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart order is not following its own child safety guidelines designed to keep priests suspected of child abuse away from children.

The senator and the religious order both released statements last night, as Fr Mac Carthaigh remained silent on the controversy.

A man peeked from behind the blinds of his apartment in Cork, but would not come outside to talk to waiting reporters.

Senator Daly said in his statement that he was "strongly concerned about the ability of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to ensure that its child safety guidelines are being followed so that harm is not caused to defenceless children".

Speaking in the Seanad earlier this week, Mr Daly said the Sacred Heart Missionaries did not properly monitor Fr Mac Carthaigh's movements -- even though he has previously faced seven sex-abuse allegations, one of which was settled out of court.

Despite this, the priest was subsequently able to train under-age Gaelic football teams and was even a selector for the county minor team.

In 1996 he was placed on restricted ministry but breached the conditions on several occasions, including going on trips to Fatima and Rome.

Concerned

Mr Daly said last night: "In my opinion the order is not making sufficient efforts to assist the victims of child abuse at the hands of priests in their order.

"I remain gravely concerned and thoroughly convinced that this order has not and is not taking sufficient steps to protect children in the Cork area and beyond."

Yesterday the Sacred Heart Missionaries apologised to anyone who had been abused by members of the order and appealed to people to report any such instances to the gardai.

Fr Mac Carthaigh is living at the Sacred Heart Missionaries campus in Cork city.

John Fitzgerald, who works at the campus, asked that all enquiries be directed to the Sacred Heart Missionaries' head office in Dublin instead.

In a statement, the order said: "We have met with Senator Mark Daly, heard his concerns and since then we have passed the details of his concerns on to An Garda Siochana.

"In keeping with our policies and practices, we have also responded to the issues raised and in doing so have kept the National Office for Safeguarding Children informed and sought their guidance.

"Recently we invited the national office to review all our procedures and information available to us on this critically important matter.

"Persons who have allegations made against them have been taken out of active ministry and are subject to restrictions in regard to access and travel. We again sincerely apologise to those who were abused by members of our order."

It also emerged last night that Fr Mac Carthaigh was not one of 19 priests listed with pseudonyms in the Cloyne Report as he belonged to the diocese of Cork and Ross.

Irish Independent

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