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Cardinal under pressure to answer questions on sex abuse allegations

CARDINAL Desmond Connell is under severe pressure today to answer further questions about allegations that he concealed details of sex abuse cases.

A Canon lawyer specialising in dealing with abuse by clergy has dubbed Dublin one of the worst cities in the world for the covering-up of clerical child abuse.

A diocese spokesman said there would be no comment until after the Cardinal had seen the 'Prime Time' documentary in which the allegations were made. The programme screened last night detailed the abuses committed by eight priests in the Dublin diocese over a period of four decades. 'Cardinal Secrets' accused Dublin Archbishop Connell of:

Initially covering up the defrocking of two priests after internal inquiries had found them guilty of sexual abuse.

Failing to give information he had about them when allegations were being investigated.

Writing a "clean" reference for a priest accused of child sex abuse.

The programme also claims that six bishops had knowledge of allegations child sex abuse by priests including Bishop of Killaloe Willie Walsh, Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey, Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Jim Moriarty and former auxiliary bishops of Dublin James Kavanagh (now dead) and Dermot O'Mahony (retired).

Speaking on the programme, Canon Lawyer Fr Tom Doyle said there was no excuse for the way the Dublin Diocese handled the allegations and the way it had been covered up was "appalling" and "disgusting". Fr Doyle had been asked by the programme to compare the scale of the problem in Dublin - where 450 separate civil cases are pending in relation to clerical sex abuse by diocesan priests and those in industrial schools - and other countries.

"That puts Dublin right at the top of the heap. You know there is something radically, radically wrong.

"I find what I have read about Dublin to be disgusting, it's appalling. I would rate it as top as far as the egregious nature of the cover-up and the collusion of the clergy, not just the top level of the clergy but right down in the lower levels," he said.

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The programme outlined the history of eight priests, including Ballyfermot priest Fr Tony Walsh who abused Ken Reilly in 1979, the year he was ordained.

Ken's mother Ena told how the incident was reported to the parish priests in Coolock and Ballyfermot, as well as to Fr Michael Cleary, who was in Ballyfermot at the time, Bishop James Kavanagh, Mgr Alex Stenson.

She was told that the then Archbishop Dermot Ryan personally knew of the incident. But Fr Walsh still continued on in charge of the altar boys and the children's mass.

Another victim told how he was raped by Fr Walsh in the Phoenix Park and in the parochial house. This continued for five years until he was 12.

In 1992, Cardinal Connell initiated an internal inquiry into Fr Walsh - it was carried out by three high-ranking members of the clergy. They found him guilty and ordered that he be defrocked. This, the programme, alleged was done in secret by Cardinal Connell. In 1995, Fr Walsh went to a funeral under the pretence of being a priest and abused the 11-year-old grandson of the deceased. The boy's family went to the gardai. A similar inquiry was also carried out in relation to Fr Bill Carney who was also defrocked but this, it was claimed last night, was also covered up.

The programme also claimed that in 1988 Cardinal Connell wrote a reference to Fr Patrick Hughes without mentioning allegations of sexual abuse against him.

The Archbishop has said he did not have this information available to him when writing the reference.

On September 11, RTE sent a letter of detailed questions on the cases raised in the programme to the Archbishop but they were not answered despite follow-up emails and phone calls. A few days ago, a second list was submitted and, according to RTE, half of these were answered at 2.30pm yesterday.

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