Irish Republican News · October 28, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Church’s child abuse exposed

The true extent of paedophilia in the Catholic Church in Ireland has emerged for the first time following the publication of a state inquiry into the sexual abuse of young boys and girls in County Wexford.

Dublin government officials, the Health boards and the Garda police have also come in for criticism for their role in allowing decades of abuse to go unnoticed and unpunished.

The report of the inquiry into the Ferns diocese strongly criticised the Catholic Church’s handling of the cases, particularly the former bishops of Ferns.

Bishop Brendan Comiskey, now retired, may face the possibility of a criminal investigation over providing “erroneous information” to police in at least one investigation.

A clerical abuse investigation is set to be initiated in every diocese in the 26 Counties as records show that almost 250 priests have been accused of child sex abuse across the state, and over 60 religious have been convicted.

New legislation to give children greater protection is also being considered.

The situation in the Six Counties appears similar, with scandals now beginning to emerge over abuses by clergymen in Counties Derry and Down.

The Ferns report details, often in explicit terms, the allegations made by more than 100 individuals against 21 priests in the south-eastern diocese.

Allegations against another five priests only came to light in recent months -- too late for the inquiry to examine fully.

It has emerged that at least Euro 9 million has been paid out in compensation to victims of clerical abuse but several dioceses have multiple civil actions outstanding, meaning the ultimate cost will be higher.

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he was “appalled and overwhelmed at the nature and extent of the abuse” and promised that his government would move quickly to implement the recommendations of the report.

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell said that the Catholic Church was in a state of “considerable moral and intellectual confusion” over its failure to prevent the abuses and report criminal activity.

He indicated that it will become a criminal offence for someone to fail to protect children against child abuse risks, a move welcomed by victim representative groups.

The Archbishop Ireland, Dr Sean Brady, last night apologised to all who had suffered lasting hurt at the hands of abusers in the church. “The betrayal of trust is horrendous,” he said.

Sinn Fein Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain blamed the account of the abuses and effective cover-up as “a catalogue church and state delinquency” that had cast “a dark shadow over not only the lives of those directly affected by the abuse but also over the entire country.”

Deputy O Caolain called for the rights of children to be enshrined in the Constitution”.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News