Wednesday 23 October 2019

Clergy blamed abuse victim -- claiming she 'beset' priest

Ralph Riegel

NO further prosecutions are planned over clerical abuse allegations in the Diocese of Cloyne -- with just one of the 19 clerics at the centre of abuse complaints ever convicted.

The revelation came as Justice Minister Alan Shatter yesterday released the full Cloyne Report, featuring previously withheld details on a priest known as 'Fr Ronat'.

One girl complained that she had been abused by Fr Ronat -- who had an interest in hypnosis -- at his house when she was 17 or 18 years old.

The girl, given the pseudonym Ailis, was interviewed by a senior Cloyne diocesan official who later wondered whether the teenage girl had been "besetting" Fr Ronat. "Might it not be possible that (Ailis) is the Ophelia of 'Hamlet' -- sweet bells jangled," he wrote, in reference to Shakespeare's play.

In April 1995, the diocesan official deemed that the issue was not paedophilia given that the girl was 16 when she started visiting Fr Ronat's home.

The Cloyne Report found that there was no evidence of a proper investigation into the girl's complaints.

"It also, notably, seeks to lay the blame for what occurred on Ailis," says the report. The girl in question has since died.

Fr Ronat, who continues to live in Ireland and was the focus of abuse allegations from a total of seven different children, has never been convicted of a sex offence.

Chapter Nine runs to 42 pages, the longest in the 27-chapter report, and focuses exclusively on allegations against Fr Ronat. It found that the diocese -- despite having signed up to specific child protection guidelines -- was still failing to properly handle such allegations as late as 2008. It also found that several of allegations against Fr Ronat were not passed on to gardai for investigation as required.

Mr Shatter said the report "again details the failure of the church to comply with its own child abuse guidelines and its failure to ensure that allegations of abuse when first received were brought to the notice of An Garda Siochana".


The probe by Judge Yvonne Murphy examined the handling of abuse allegations against a total of 19 clerics in the Cork diocese from 1996-2009.

But the Irish Independent has learned that no further major prosecutions are planned in relation to the Cloyne allegations with just a single cleric convicted of a sex offence.

That cleric was Fr Brendan Wrixon (75), who received an 18-month suspended prison sentence in 2010, after he pleaded guilty to gross indecency against a 16-year-old boy in 1982.

A number of other clerics have since died -- and others had prosecutions initiated against them that failed to return convictions.

The main report found that former Bishop of Cloyne John Magee left the implementation of child protection measures entirely to his vicar-general, Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan, and failed to ensure they were properly implemented.

Both Dr Magee and Monsignor O'Callaghan have profusely apologised over their failings as highlighted in other sections of the Cloyne Report.

Dr Magee -- who stepped aside from running the diocese in 2009 and then resigned the following year -- has since pleaded for forgiveness from victims.

The Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dr Dermot Clifford, who has been running the Diocese of Cloyne for three years, last night expressed his "profound sorrow" at failings over the handling of clerical abuse complaints. "It is deeply regrettable that the procedures for handling such case . . . were not carried out. As a result, further hurt and distress was caused to complainants. They were also denied the justice they deserved," he said.

Irish Independent

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