PRIESTS of the Catholic diocese of Killaloe have been forced to put their hands in their own pockets and pay over €340,000 in order to shore up its finances -- while over €2m has been paid to sex abuse victims.
Accounts for the diocese for 2010 and 2009, published yesterday, disclose that priests contributed €343,913 to the Killaloe coffers.
They are expected to make a further contribution of around €170,000 this year.
The accounts show that an anonymous individual donated €100,000 in 2009 .
They also disclose further payments by the diocese to victims of clerical sex abuse in 2010 and 2009 totalling €428,162, bringing to €2.24m the amount that has been paid out since 2003.
The priests' contributions arose from the global financial crisis as the diocese had relied on dividends from shares, mainly in banks, to fund its operations.
With an annual salary of between €22,000 and €27,240, each of the 90 priests in the diocese contributed €3,821 on average over 2010 and 2009.
In 2008, the diocese generated €468,521 from investments -- 42pc of its income. Last year this plummeted to €50,988.
The Bishop Of Killaloe, Dr Kieran O'Reilly, praised the priests for "contributing extremely generously from personal funds a total of almost €172,000" in 2010.
And parishes upped their contribution from €559,725 in 2008 to €812,050 in 2009 and €795,595 last year.
This resulted in the diocese recording a surplus of €93,941 in 2010 compared with a deficit of €22,403 in 2008.
Bishop O'Reilly said the surplus from 2010 and 2009, together with further savings, "will make it unnecessary for the contribution from priests to continue in the short term".
Fr Brendan Quinlivan said the priests "were very happy to play their part". Former Bishop Willie Walsh had asked them to contribute in response to the drop in investment income.
A diocesan spokesman said: "Depending on their circumstances, the priests agreed to pay between €1,000 and €3,000 per year over three years and the contributions end at the end of this year."
Fr Quinlivan added that pay has been frozen for the past four of five years.
Bishop O'Reilly said: "A great deal of time and resources continues to be committed to dealing with the tragic result of sexual abuse by a small number of clergy in the past.''