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Diocese runs out of storage space for abuse-related files

A CHURCH diocese notorious for sex abuse by priests is increasing its secure storage space due to the sheer number of sensitive documents relating to abuse.

And a review by a church-funded watchdog also found that allegations have been made against three more priests who weren't included in a damning 2005 report into child abuse in the Co Wexford-based Ferns diocese.

The National Body for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI), has now published its own review of child safeguarding practices there.

Guidelines

It found that the diocese was fully compliant with 47 out of 48 of the criteria listed under seven broad standards for protecting children.

However, the review found fault with the facilities for the storage of documents relating to abuse cases, stating that the diocese had only partially met guidelines.

Bishop of Ferns Denis Brennan said: "We have a walk-in secure safe below in Summerhill (the diocesan headquarters) and we have so many files indeed that we're working on another location in the house at the moment, making that secure for less important files."

He welcomed the NBSCCCI review but acknowledged that the publication "may occasion the reawakening of pain and hurt among those who have suffered sexual abuse".

He said: "I again apologise unreservedly for the failings that led to such pain and hurt. I accept the findings and recommendations of this report."

The 2005 Ferns report identified more than 100 allegations of child abuse against 21 priests made over four decades up to 2002.

The NBSCCCI review notes that allegations have been made against three more priests who weren't included in the Ferns Inquiry.

Two of those priests are still alive, though no longer involved in ministry having been asked to step aside pending investigation into the complaints which were made in 2011 and 2012.

The review states that the alleged abuse took place prior to 2002 with a diocesan spokesman confirming that it took place over the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

He said that investigations into the allegations were "ongoing" and that gardai and other statutory authorities were fully informed about the cases.

Irish Independent