Irish Church reports reveal horrific child abuse
November 29, 2011
A new series of reports into Irish Catholic dioceses on Wednesday revealed horrific child sex abuse by priests and mistakes by Roman Catholic Church authorities in dealing with them.
Some of the cases detailed by the Church's own child protection watchdog occurred as recently as August 2010, and the Irish republic's Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald warned that still more abuse could be revealed.
"The reports collectively indicate that across the six dioceses over 160 allegations of abuse were made to the statutory authorities in respect of 85 priests. The allegations resulted in eight convictions," she said.
She warned: "The fact is that it can take 10, 20 or more years for survivors to unearth and face deeply buried memories, so we must not assume we are free of this plague and that it belonged to one period of Church history only."
In Raphoe in the northwest of Ireland, Bishop Philip Boyce said "horrific" acts of child sex abuse were carried out by priests over the last 35 years.
Some 52 allegations of abuse by a total of 14 priests were made to police between January 1975 and August 2010.
"We are truly sorry for the terrible deeds that have been inflicted on so many by a small minority of priests," Boyce said in a statement.
"During the past decades there have been very poor judgements and mistakes made.
"There were horrific acts of abuse by individual priests that should never have happened, and if suspected should have been dealt with immediately in the appropriate manner."
The report added: "It is clear that significant errors of judgement were made by successive bishops when responding to child abuse allegations that emerged within this diocese.
"Too much emphasis was placed on the situation of the accused priest and too little on the needs of their complainants."
A report on the diocese of Derry in the British province of Northern Ireland meanwhile found that 31 allegations of abuse were made involving 23 priests.
"Priests about whom there were clear concerns were not robustly challenged or adequately managed and problems were often 'handled' by moving them to postings elsewhere," it said.
"There is evidence that abusive behaviour continued to be exhibited by priests who were moved on in this manner."
The Republic of Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, has been rocked by a number of landmark reports on child sex abuse stretching back decades, and on Church leaders' complicity in covering it up.
Further reports revealed 25 allegations of abuse against 18 priests in Tuam in the west of Ireland; 35 allegations of abuse concerning 10 priests in Dromore in Northern Ireland; seven allegations of abuse involving seven priests in Kilmore, which straddles the border; and 14 allegations of abuse concerning 13 priests in the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise.