Court heard horrific detail of offending over three decades

Brian McDonald

THE horrific reality of child sex abuse was outlined in graphic detail at the trial of paedophile Fr Martin Greaney who molested 30 children over a 30-year period.

The curate, one of three priests of the archdiocese of Tuam to be convicted of child sex abuse, was sentenced at Ballina Circuit Court in November, 1997 to seven years in prison on sample charges of abusing eight girls.

The abuse took place in counties Galway, Mayo and Tipperary.

Judge Harvey Kenny said that the lives of 30 children had been ruined by Greaney‘s antics.

The court heard the children were abused in presbyteries, a church sanctuary, a church gallery, a school lunch-room and a bedroom where a 'Station Mass' was being celebrated.

The detective who investigated all of the cases said that Martin Greaney had 'a magnetic effect' on children, but he had abused their trust.

Some of the girls were as young as 8 or 9 when Fr Greaney abused them.

In court a statement was read from Archbishop Neary in which he expressed great concern for the victims, for the trauma and for the suffering they had endured, and for their families.

A native of Tuam, Martin Greaney had served in a number of parishes in Galway and Mayo before his suspension in 1995. He has since died.

It was also in 1995 that the activities of Fr Joseph Summerville came to light. Joseph Summervile was chaplain at a boys college in the West and in May 1996 he received a four-year sentence for indecently assaulting a boy at the college and at a parochial house.

When he subsequently appeared at Galway Circuit Court details of his 'grooming' of another victim were outlined.

He had befriended the 15-year-old boy at prayer meetings and early-morning Mass.

The victim became worried about his personal hygiene and went to Fr Summerville for advice.

The priest undressed him, got him to lie on a bed in a parochial house and covered his body with lotion, paying particular attention to his private parts.

The boy later told another student about what had happened and he went to the Dean of the college.

The investigating detective told Judge Yvonne Murphy that the Dean had spoken to the victim, but the matter did not go any further.

Judge Murphy added a one-year sentence to the four-year term which was being served by Joseph Summerville at the time of his conviction.