Saturday 21 April 2018

Priest quits school board over child sex abuser nephew

Bill Kenneally
Bill Kenneally

Damien Tiernan

The Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has asked gardai in Waterford to furnish her with more information regarding how they dealt with the case of a notorious paedophile in the city.

Former basketball coach Bill Kenneally was sentenced last year after pleading guilty to 14 years for abusing 10 teenage boys in Waterford in the 1980s.

More men have since come forward to gardai alleging they were also abused.

Victims have called for a Commission of Inquiry and are awaiting a response from Minister Frances Fitzgerald. The minister, who met victims, confirmed to Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin she is seeking additional clarification from gardai in Waterford.

"I can assure the Deputy that I share his concern at the very serious issues raised in this case," she wrote.

Victims of Bill Kenneally last week wrote to Pope Francis asking for one of the senior priests in their diocese to be removed from a school board.

Kenneally is a nephew of 91-year-old Monsignor John Shine. The victims allege the Monsignor knew from at least 2002 or before that his nephew had abused at least one boy but that he did nothing about it. Monsignor Shine denies the allegations, saying he knew nothing about the abuse in the past and that he has done nothing wrong.

Yesterday, the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore issued a statement saying the Monsignor had resigned last Friday from his role as chairperson of the Board of Management at Holy Cross National School in Tramore.

He was in this position as the representative of Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan.

"I made my decision bearing in mind the wishes, and indeed the distress, of the victims of my nephew Bill Kenneally," said Monsignor Shine. "Due to a serious illness, I have been housebound for the last three months and I was in hospital in December to undergo an operation. However, when I am in a position to do so, I would very much wish to meet with the victims to hear their views, and to share with them all that I know of events of the past. It is my deep hope that I may be reconciled with them in their immense suffering."

A spokesperson for the Diocese said the move was not due to the victims having written to the Pope.

The victims have welcomed the fact that he has now resigned. "We believe Monsignor Shine's position was untenable," said Colin Power, one of Kenneally's victims. "We rang the school but were told a decision on removing him from the Board of Management was not one the school can make."

The Department of Education said it had no authority to remove Monsignor Shine, in particular as he hadn't been accused of any wrongdoing, adding "the appointment of a Board of Management of a school is a matter for the relevant school patron".

The victims wrote to the patron Bishop Cullinan last week. He has said he will gladly meet Bill Kenneally's victims on a pastoral basis but will not discuss anything relating to Bill Kenneally which is a matter for the statutory authorities to deal with.

In frustration, the victims wrote to Pope Francis last Wednesday via the Papal Nuncio's office in Dublin, demanding he use his authority to force the removal of the Monsignor from the school board.

Monsignor Shine denies any knowledge of Bill Kenneally's crimes before they came to light in April 2013 and is offering to meet the victims.

When asked previously about his nephew, he said: "He was very good to his mother when she was sick."

The paedophile's cousin and former Fianna Fail TD Brendan Kenneally has said that in 2002, he spoke to Monsignor Shine about Bill Kenneally having abused at least one boy.

The victims want to know exactly who knew what in the past and if a cover-up existed.

Bill Kenneally was interviewed by senior gardai in December 1987 about allegations he had abused boys but was not charged then, with Gardai saying there were no written statements of complaint.

Sunday Independent

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