Diocese confirms Casey 'concern' as claims mount

Sinead Kelleher

The Diocese of Kerry revealed this week it received one complaint regarding Bishop Eamonn Casey, who served as Bishop of Kerry from 1969 to 1976.

The Diocese has refused to provide further details about when this complaint was made saying only that it is a "historical concern"; that the matter had been referred to the HSE and Gardaí and that the victim was offered support from the Diocese of Kerry. Meanwhile, the Diocese has also revealed that, since 2013, there have been 23 allegations of abuse in the Diocese - all of which have been referred to the authorities. 

Full disclosure of all the Diocese of Kerry's records in relation to Safeguarding were included in the 2013 Safeguarding Audit, as carried out by the National Board for Safeguarding in the Catholic Church. This report shows that 67 allegations were received by the Diocese from 1975 to 2013, all of which were reported to the civil authorities.

Clerical sexual abuse support group 'Minister And Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors' is critical of the response from the Diocese of Kerry to the current controversy surrounding Bishop Casey  following the Catholic Church's stated commitment to greater openness and transparency.  The Diocese of Kerry's statement comes as controversy surrounds the Kerry Bishop amid allegations he abused his niece for more than a decade.

The details of the abuse by Bishop Casey were revealed by his niece Patricia Donovan in an interview with Kerry journalist, Anne Sheridan, in national media this week. 

It also emerged this week that two settlements for child sex abuse cases were also made against Bishop Eamonn Casey. The two victims had accused him of abusing them in the 1950's and 1960's. One of these was settled through the Residential Institutions Redress Board.

This is the first time that Bishop Casey has been named as one of the priests whose actions were dealt with by the redress board. The victim had taken High Court action but this was struck out in 2005 after the case was settled at the Redress Board. 

The second victim settlement was paid out by  the Limerick Diocese after a woman took High Court proceedings in 2016 which were settled after Bishop Casey died in March 2017. 

The accusations by his niece came to light in 2005 when she contacted gardaí.   She alleged that the initial abuse occurred while he served in the Diocese of Kerry and continued over a decade. 

The DPP ultimately decided that no charges should be brought in relation to Ms  Donovan's  allegations. At the time of her complaint Bishop Casey, who was also born in Kerry, was based in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton in England having spent six years in exile after his affair with a married woman - with whom he fathered a son - came to light in 1992. After the complaints came to light he returned to the Galway Diocese as this was the last diocese where he had served. 

He was not allowed public ministry during this time. 

Both Limerick and Galway Dioceses confirmed that they had received complaints about Bishop Casey but when first questioned on the issue the Diocese of Kerry said it did not disclose this information. 

In a subsequent statement provided to The Kerryman this week the Diocese of Kerry said that “custom and practice” within the Church has been not to name and discuss individuals in relation to Safeguarding concerns. 

Revealing such information could interfere with the work of the Gardaí and the Child Protection Service, they said.  

While the allegations against Bishop Casey date back many years it was only on Tuesday afternoon that the Diocese of Kerry finally revealed that a complaint had been made to them about him. 

"Given that information relating to Bishop Casey is now in the public domain, we can confirm that one historical concern regarding Bishop Casey was received by the Diocese. This information was forwarded to the Gardaí and the HSE and the person concerned was offered support by the Diocese," said a spokesperson for the Diocese. 

The lack of information from the Kerry Diocese has been criticised by the support group 'Minister And Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors' who said they were aware of complaints about Bishop Casey. 

The group said it had dealt with two alleged victims of the former Bishop of Kerry, both of whom were based in the UK. 

A spokesperson for the UK based group - which deals with victims of clerical child sex abuse victims in Ireland and the UK - Dr Margaret Kennedy, said that a recent Vatican commission spoke about "openness and transparency" but that the first time the issue has come up in Kerry the Kerry Diocese "slammed" the door. 

"People are asking questions and we don't know what the Kerry Diocese knew. The question is are there other cases?" she asked. 

"We don't like that the church is playing games with the language. We are not asking them to discuss individual cases, we are asking them about Bishop Casey," she said.