NO evidence of any major mistake beyond one former Kerry bishop's failure to act on reports of child sex abuse against a priest of the diocese, have yet been found by a new lay person appointed to review and monitor diocesan practice in Kerry.
Newly-appointed Designated Person for safeguarding children in the diocese of Kerry, Jim Sheehy, said that he has not yet found any evidence of major mistakes in the way the diocese handled clerical child sex abuse complaints in recent decades beyond one infamous instance.
Mr Sheehy says that current practice within the diocese leaves absolutely no room for the glaring mistakes of the past.
Only one priest of the Kerry diocese has ever been convicted of sex abuse. Allegations have been made against 11 priests, however, of the 310 to have ministered in Kerry since 1955.
The only Kerry priest to have been convicted was Fr John Brosnan, of Gurteenrow, Firies, who was sentenced to four years in jail when he pleaded guilty to 13 counts of indecent assault on four females and one male between 1977 and 1985. It emerged after the court case that then Bishop of Kerry Diarmuid O Suilleabháin had been told of the allegations against Fr Brosnan several years before the case but - like many other bishops in the country - had not removed him from his duties.
"I have not seen evidence of any other major mistakes in my reviewing of the files since starting the position recently," Mr Sheehy told The Kerryman. The lessons learned have been applied rigorously in Kerry where any complaints now made are reported immediately to either the gardaí or the HSE - one of the chief responsibilities of Mr Sheehy's position. There are no current cases and the only cases reported to the diocese in recent times have been of an historic nature.
Prior of the Dominican Order in Kerry Fr Joe Bullman said the recent audit into his order nationally made for 'very difficult reading' in parts. "I'm glad to be able to say that it seems everything is in place, as much as it can be, in terms of our procedures within the order today."
Any complaints arising today are handled through the provincial office of the order and are reported immediately - as with best diocesan practice - to the civil authorities.