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Monday 9 December 2019

FF senator names priest at centre of sex claims

Breda Heffernan and Michael Brennan

A SENATOR has used parliamentary privilege to name a priest against whom at least seven allegations of abuse were made, despite the fact he was never charged.

Fianna Fail senator Mark Daly told the Seanad seven formal allegations of child abuse had been made against Fr Donncha MacCarthaigh between 1986 and 2008.

The Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to pursue a criminal prosecution in relation to the allegations.

However, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart settled a civil case taken by one of the alleged victims.

Mr Daly said following this, in 1996, Fr MacCarthaigh had been placed under a restricted ministry order which was meant to restrict his activities.


However, he said the priest had acted in "direct contravention" of this order and is understood to have acted as spiritual director for a pilgrimage to Fatima, where he could have had unsupervised access to children.

Speaking in the Seanad, Mr Daly said: "The head of the order did not know that he had gone to Fatima until I told him. Similarly, the priest travelled to Rome in Easter 2011 without informing the designated person or Pope Benedict in his role as Vicar of Rome."

Fr MacCarthaigh is a former teacher at Colaiste an Chroi Naofa in Carraig na bhFear, Co Cork.

Mr Daly said he has asked Ian Elliott of the National Board for Safeguarding Children to carry out a review of the child protection policies of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.

A priest at the order's community residence in Cork, where Fr MacCarthaigh is understood to be based, last night directed calls to the head office in Dublin. There was no answer.

Maeve Lewis of support group One in Four said that while she believed only convicted sex offenders should be named, Mr Daly was in an "impossible position".

"Senator Daly had two choices: to do nothing and hope that another child would not be sexually abused, or to act in order to protect children. I do not envy him this moral quandary. Ultimately, he decided to act.

"We are all aware of the horrendous consequences of secrecy and silence; therefore, in this particular instance, One in Four supports his decision."

Irish Independent

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