Thursday 12 December 2019

'Good guys' failed to speak out, says family


Louise Hogan

THE father of an abuse victim has called for the prosecution or public naming-and-shaming of all priests involved in covering-up clerical sexual abuse.

Jack O'Donnell, whose daughter Maeve revealed 16 years ago she had been abused in the Diocese of Cloyne, claimed that the "collusion and cover-up" extends as far as the Vatican.

After a lengthy wait, Mr O'Donnell, from Buttevant, Co Cork, said some of the victims were now experiencing a sense of "freedom" at the publication of the "outstanding" 421-page report into the diocese.

Maeve told her parents 16 years ago that she had been abused by a priest during her teenage years and that she feared he had started to abuse another girl.

Maeve was 24 years old in 1995 when she went, along with her parents Jack and Nuala, to Cobh, where the then Bishop John Magee was based.

Maeve died in 2006 following an operation, before her complaint of abuse could be brought before the courts.

Mr O'Donnell said nothing happened on their first meeting and that after a subsequent visit they were referred to the child protection designate, Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan.

He said Mgr O'Callaghan told him the priest had undergone either two or six weeks of counselling and was now "fine and fit to go back into ministry".

The family then heard nothing more from the church until they discovered "there were others being abused".

Mr O'Donnell said he was "shattered" after the ordeal of reading and comprehending the report. He felt the report accurately reflected the way the complaints were handled by the church.

Mr O'Donnell said they had come forward to protect others, as had nearly all of those named in the report. He said Maeve did not speak about what had happened and it was only in recent years that he realised the "appalling acts" and the full extent of the abuse.


"The blank stare of the clergy, they just didn't seem to get it and I honestly believe they still don't," he said.

Mr O'Donnell said he felt it would not make any difference if Bishop Magee came out of hiding and addressed the victims. "I don't think anyone would take any notice. They have lost all credibility," he said.

He asked where were all "the good guys" in the church as so few "stood up and stuck their head over the parapet" to support the victims.

Mr O'Donnell praised the Augustinian 'walking priest', Fr Michael Mernagh, who undertook a nine-day walk from Cobh in Cork to Dublin, as an act of atonement for all victims of child sexual abuse.

Irish Independent

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