Abuse response was ‘often unsatisfactory’

OPPORTUNITIES to intervene following reports of clerical abuse in the cross-border Catholic Diocese of Clogher were consistently missed in the past, according to a newly-published report commissioned by Bundoran-born Bishop Liam McDaid.

The report carried out by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) at the request of Bishop McDaid who was ordained in 2010, was published on Wednesday (April 23).

Twenty-three allegations were made against 13 priests in the Diocese, which includes parts of Donegal, Tyrone and Fermanagh, since 1975. Three were still alive at the time of the review last November; two were convicted of offences against children; but one against whom an allegation had been made was never convicted of any offence.

Whilst acknowledging Bishop McDaid’s hard work ensuring good working relationships were maintained with safeguarding agencies in both jurisdictions of his diocese, the report does point to serious failings prior to his prelacy.

“The reviewers would draw a line between the practice of this diocese today and some of the practice that existed previously,” it states.

“From the cases examined it was clear that opportunities for preventive interventions were consistently missed when concerns of abuse by clergy were highlighted in the past,” it adds.

It refers to a case in which a priest remained in ministry for a period despite credible allegations against him. Another priest remained in ministry and was transferred from one parish to another before being shipped overseas for psychotherapy despite being “suspected of multiple incidents of abuse.”

“He remained outside the jurisdiction and was eventually extradited back to this country several years later but died before he could be brought before the courts,” it says. In several other cases allegations surfaced after the priests suspected of abuse had died.

It says the response to concerns was “often unsatisfactory” and “risky behaviour” should have been addressed more robustly.