Abuse by Tony Walsh 'hushed up' by Church

Friday 17 December 2010 21.58
Tony Walsh - Chapter 19 had been withheld until criminal case ended
Tony Walsh - Chapter 19 had been withheld until criminal case ended

The newly released Chapter 19 of the Murphy Report on convicted paedophile priest Tony Walsh describes him as probably the most notorious sex abuser to come to the Commission's attention.

Chapter index | Part 1 | Part 2 | Further Portions

Chapter 19: Main points & timeline

The Commission of Inquiry into allegations of child sexual abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese details the incidents of abuse over 15 years and concludes the child abuser was moved from parishes in Ballyfermot to Westland Row to avoid further scandal.

The Murphy Report outlines how Walsh abused children in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s even though priests, canons, monsignors, bishops and the Archbishop in Dublin knew about it.

The first complaint against him was made two days after he was appointed a parish priest in Ballyfermot in 1978 but nothing was done.

It also describes as astonishing a letter from the Archbishop thanking him for his 'dedicated work' in Ballyfermot.

The report says the Church authorities only sent him for treatment ten years after the first complaint of abuse was made against him.

Walsh was permitted to continue as a priest even though a report to the Archdiocese in 1988 describes him as 'a very disturbed man who is always going to be dangerous.'

It describes how some priests felt his activities were 'hushed up' and that a monsignor was outraged at a suggestion that the gardaí be informed of his activities.

On 6 December, the former Dublin priest was sentenced to 16 years in prison for abusing three young boys in the 1970s and 1980s.

The final four years of the sentence were suspended. Leave to appeal the sentence was refused.

Abuse 'hushed up'

Archbishop Dermot Ryan knew of the abuse by 1984 - as did Monsignor Richard Glennon, Fr Michael Cleary and a number of other priests - one priest felt matters were being 'hushed up'.

The next year Monsignor Richard Glennon met Walsh, where not only did he deny nothing, he also admitted to another case the Church knew nothing about.

He was moved out of Ballyfermot to Westland Row - the report concludes 'to avoid further scandal'.

The complaints continued including one from the housekeeper in Westland row who found her clothes - as well as syringes and condoms in Walsh's room - and saw boys leaving it.

Ten years after the first complaint, the Church authorities sent him to the UK for treatment. The report described Walsh as 'a very disturbed man' who 'is always going to be dangerous' and 'could not be let near schools, children, confession etc.'

But Walsh continued as a priest and continued to abuse.

The report says he fought the penal process at every stage and even though it found in 1993 he should be dismissed - Rome allowed his appeal and he remained a priest. Archbishop Desmond Connell wrote to Rome and begged the Pope to dismiss him.

In January 1996 - 16 years after the first complaint - he was finally dismissed as a priest.

He was given €10,500 severance pay but continued to represent himself as a priest.

The report concludes that action should have been taken by the Archdiocese in 1979 at the latest but recognises that Archbishop Connell did act decisively once he became Archbishop.

It also found it unacceptable that two gardaí who were concerned about Walsh in 1990 and 1992 failed to pursue a criminal investigation.

Connect, the National Adults Counselling Service, can be contacted this evening and over the weekend at freephone 1800-477477 from the Republic of Ireland and 00800-47747777 from Northern Ireland.