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Sunday 18 November 2018

Limerick diocese received 45 separate complaints of child abuse concerning 26 priests

Barry Duggan

THE Diocese of Limerick received 45 separate complaints of child abuse concerning 26 priests from 1975 to the present.

State authorities including the gardai were notified of all complaints, but not a single criminal conviction was recorded.

Some complaints refer back to the 1940s and the last date of alleged abuse took place in 1994.

When the complaints were made in relation to the 26 priests, 14 were already dead.

Of the 12 priests that were investigated - despite the fact that all were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing - the Diocese took the decision to remove five elderly priests from their ministry.

Four of the remaining seven are serving as priests or are retired.

Three are no longer in the diocese – and are not in ministry elsewhere.

While many of the other 26 dioceses across the country have made major settlements with clerical child abuse victims, the Limerick Diocese has only made two settlements to date.

Payments in the region of €323,000 have been paid out in total.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) found that the diocese fully met 44 out of 48 criteria required for safeguarding practice - the remaining four were partially met.

The four ‘partially met’ criteria relate to the need for further development of policies regarding: whistle blowing, IT policy, intimate care and communications.

It is expected that these four criteria will meet the approval of the NBSCCCI by the end of the year.

The report did note that prior to Bishop Donal Murray’s appointment to Limerick, the practice regarding safeguarding children was “very poor and in our view, in one case, potentially dangerous” while Bishop Jeremiah Newman oversaw the administration of the Diocese. He died in 1995.

There was evidence that despite having knowledge of a priest’s abusive behaviour in England where he recorded a criminal conviction, Bishop Newman allowed him the faculties to serve as a priest in Limerick in the 1980s where the report said “it is believed he may have gone on to abuse again”.

The priest was removed from the Diocese by Bishop Newman within a year of coming to Limerick.

Diocesan Administrator in Limerick, Fr Tony Mullins said that the immediate thoughts of the Diocese and wider Catholic Church in Ireland on its publication today must be with all victims of clerical abuse.

“Our first thoughts on the publication of reports must be with all victims of clerical abuse,” Fr Mullins said.

“Abuse of children is reprehensible and there are no words that can adequately express the depth of pain endured by people who have been sexually abused,” he added.

“The Catholic community has been profoundly affected by the many disclosures of abuse in recent years by religious personnel and moreover by the enormous damage that this caused to the lives of children.”

“Failure to respond to concerns regarding abuse is unacceptable and the Church must continue to apologise again and again for this,” Fr Mullins said.

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