Sunday 18 November 2018

Bishop is urged to tell all he knew of abuse case

Anita Guidera

THE family of a man abused as a child by a priest has called on the local bishop to answer questions on his handling of the case.

Brendan Shannon was 13 in 1982 when he was abused by Fr Peter Kennedy, a Kiltegan Father, in his south Co Sligo home while his father lay dying of cancer.

In a recent High Court settlement he was awarded ?325,000 by the Kiltegan Fathers, believed to be the largest known settlement in a clerical abuse case.

But a claim made by the Bishop of Achonry, Most Rev Thomas Flynn, that he did not know Fr Kennedy was in the parish at the time and he only became aware of the case last year have angered family and representatives of victims and prompted questions about the bishop's future.

Yesterday, the victim's brother dismissed as "unbelievable" claims by Bishop Flynn he did not know the priest was in the parish at the time.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Joe Shannon asked how it was possible a bishop could be unaware of the presence of a priest working for almost a year less than eight miles from his residence.

Mr Shannon also challenged the bishop to explain who gave Fr Kennedy permission to work in the parish of Cloonloo, and to clarify when he first became aware of the case.

Head of the One in Four charity, Colm O'Gorman, said the bishop's reaction to the case had "cast serious doubt on his future".

"That a priest can manage to descend on a parish and perpetrate horrific crimes on children and then disappear as though in a puff of smoke without his (the bishop's) knowledge shows he is either entirely inept or less than truthful and the question should be asked whether he should be holding that office," he said.

It has also emerged the bishop and the priest appointed by him to probe abuse in the diocese are in public disagreement over when the bishop was first made aware of the case.

Fr Kennedy, against whom allegations from 18 other individuals have been made, is believed to be in South America after working as a taxi driver in London for some time.

Mr O'Gorman said he has just received seven complaints about the priest, some of which may not have been reported before.

After years of alcohol abuse, three strokes and four suicide attempts, Brendan Shannon is now living in Holland and slowly getting his life back together, his brother said.

"After the settlement, which was never about money, he felt that a huge weight had been lifted off him," his brother said.

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