independent

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Cloyne report criticizes handling of abuse complaints

BILL BROWNE

AFTER months of speculation and anticipation the long awaited Cloyne report into allegations of abuse within the diocese was finally released in April.

The 400 page report pulled few punches in its criticism of the way complaints of abuse against priests within the diocese were handled. The 26-chapter report handled the allegations against 19 different priests - one of those being the former Bishop of Cloyne John Magee who now resides in Mitchelstown. The report said that there were concerns regarding the Bishop's interaction with a 17year-old boy. According to the report, the teenager said the Bishop "declared that he loved him and told him that he had dreamt about him". The report also found that Bishop Magee took "little or no interest" in the management of clerical abuse cases until 2008, fully 23 years after the framework document on child sexual abuse was agreed by the Irish Bishops Conference. Mallow based Monsignor Denis O'callaghan also featured prominently in the report, with the commission saying he had failed to understand that the requirement to report complaints against clergy was for the protection of other children, and he did not notify of complaints against deceased priests until May 2003. The report added that Bishop Magee appointed Mgr O'callaghan in charge of child protection measures unsupervised. The report said that between 1995 and 2005 there were 15 complaints against nine clergy in the diocese, which "very clearly" should have been reported; however, nine were not. The report found that the response from the health authorities was "adequate", but the commission did note that it was not convinced that the State's laws and guidelines are sufficiently strong and clear for child protection. The report was complimentary about the role of the gardai, although it did raise concern about the force's approach in three cases. The father of one North Cork based abuse victim described the report as "outstanding". "I think they got it absolutely right; it's a tremendous report. What's striking about the content of the report is that it is so accurate." A previously unpublished chapter of the report was finally released in December highlighting the case of a priest named only as Fr Ronat. A total of 11 complaints were made against the now elderly priest who will faces an internal church investigation in the new year.

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