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Ferns in parish fund plea

PARISHES in the diocese of Ferns have been asked to help pay compensation and legal bills arising from clerical child sexual abuse.

Bishop of Ferns Dr Denis Brennan revealed that the diocese has paid over €10.5m settling civil actions, paying lawyers and treating offenders.

Addressing parish representatives last night in Enniscorthy, Bishop Brennan said victims of abuse rightly had first call on the diocese's attention.

He also told representatives that parishioners and priests had been asking what they could do to help.

Dr Brennan also said the actions of the perpetrators combined with other contributing factors such as mismanagement and a lack of resolve had caused this "tragedy".

The diocese had settled 48 civil actions, which cost it €8m. Another 13 civil cases against the diocese are pending.

Dr Brennan also revealed that another €750,000 was spent in treating offenders. The Bishop referred to this spend as a long-term investment in the protection of children.

A total of €1.5m was spent on legal work on the State's Ferns inquiry. Insurance for the diocese covered a seventh of the bill, but so far, the diocese had spent €3.5m partly from savings, and by raising a loan of €1.8m.

The "road to justice", said Dr Brennan, still has one fifth to be travelled. To complete this, the disocese was would have to seek funding from parishes, he said.