Diocesan audits say abuse response inadequate

Thursday 01 December 2011 10.35
Audits focus on the child protection practices of six Catholic dioceses
Audits focus on the child protection practices of six Catholic dioceses

Audits of child protection practices conducted by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church have been published by six dioceses.

Much attention is focused on the Diocese of Raphoe, where the board found that there were serious delays in reporting concerns to the civil authorities over a 36-year period.

The report on the Diocese of Derry said allegations were not robustly challenged or adequately managed and problems were often handled by moving priests to postings elsewhere.

List of helplines for those affected by abuse

Full reports:

Raphoe Audit | Tuam Audit | Kilmore Audit | Derry Audit | Ardagh & Clonmacnoise Audit | Dromore Audit

Key points:

Raphoe

52 allegations reported to gardaí against 14 priests
Eight out of 14 priests out of ministry, six retired
Four convicted of an offence against a child
Significant errors of judgement made by successive bishops
Too much emphasis on accused priests, not victims
More attention should have been given to preventative actions

Tuam
25 allegations reported to gardaí against 18 priests
Ten of 18 priests dead, eight out of ministry
Two priests convicted of an offence against a child
Safeguarding children plan "did not exist in previous years"
Past practices were "defensive and internally focused"
Current Archbishop "showing strong leadership" in dealing with allegations

Kilmore
Seven allegations reported to gardaí against seven priests
Three out of seven priests dead, two out of ministry, two retired
One convicted on an offence against a child
One priest living in the diocese is known to be the subject of an allegation arising from a past ministry
Fr Brendan Smyth response was "inadequate"
No cases of a failure to report and address matters
Current practices are a "consistently high standard"

Derry
31 allegations reported to gardaí against 23 priests
16 out of 23 priests dead, four out of ministry, three are retired
No priests convicted of an offence against a child
One priest living in the diocese is known to be the subject of an allegation arising from a past ministry
Allegations not robustly challenged or adequately managed
Abusive behaviour continued to be exhibited by priests who moved on

Dromore
35 allegations of abuse against ten priests
Three of ten priests dead, seven out of ministry
No priests convicted of an offence against a child
Not all allegations promptly referred to the statutory agencies
Bishop McAreavey consulted appropriately to ensure safety of children remained priority

Ardagh & Clonmacnoise
14 allegations reported to gardaí against 13 priests
12 of 13 priests dead, one out of ministry
One convicted on an offence against a child
Two priests who reside in diocese are known to be the subject of an allegation arising from a past ministry
Good co-operation by Bishop Colm O'Reilly
Ten recommendations concerning training and administration

Reaction & updates:

1817 A survivor of clerical sex abuse in Raphoe has called for a State inquiry into how the diocese handled allegations against priests.

Martin Gallagher said the audit answered no questions and was a slap in the face for victims.

1815 Sinn Féin spokesperson on children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin called on the Church and State to ensure that the highest standards of child protection are adhered to.

1734 John Heany, from 'Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse, described the findings as a "whitewash" and a "PR exercise".

1727 Former Bishop of Derry Dr Seamus Hegarty has said he is sorry that his management of historical allegations of abuse caused hurt to victims.

Dr Hegarty was Bishop of Raphoe from 1982 to 1994 and Bishop of Derry from 1994. He retired on health grounds earlier this month.

In a statement, he acknowleged that his "practice in the past was sometimes poor" but said he had made "big efforts to improve as time went on".

1517 Monsignor Eamon Martin has apologised on behalf of the Diocese of Derry to the victims of clerical sex abuse.

Monsignor Martin, who has been appointed diocesan administrator following the retirement of the Bishop of Derry, Dr Seamus Hegarty, said today was a painful day for victims.

He said their dignity had been violated, their self-esteem and self-belief battered, and their spirit crushed.

He said nothing could take away, what he called, the awful wrong done to them.

Monsignor Martin said it was disturbing that historical practice in the diocese had been weak and uncoordinated, and that decisions had been made to protect the Church instead of children.

1341 Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise Colm O'Reilly has welcomed the review findings, but says he recognises that many people in the diocese will be upset and suffer renewed pain because of their past bad experiences.

1328 Of the 52 allegations against 14 priests in the Diocese of Raphoe, just over 20 relate to Eugene Green.

Speaking this afternoon, Bishop Boyce said it was incredible that no records of the case were in the bishop's file. He believes that nothing went missing.

"It is hard to credit that no word was passed on to the authorities and it was probably the culture of the time that people didn't speak to anyone."

He said there was reference to a letter at the time of Green's trial, but neither he nor his predecessor, Bishop Hegarty, knew anything about that.

In relation to possible calls for a further inquiry, Bishop Boyce said that anything that is of value he would accept fully.

1321 "Our goal with these reviews is to assure lay faithful and clergy, and, particularly, parents and young people that the implementation of the Safeguarding Guidelines is effective and that where it is not, we will identify it and take action," says John Morgan, Chairman, NBSCCC.

1242 Bishop Leo O'Reilly has said he is pleased with the review findings pertaining to current child protection practice within the Diocese of Kilmore.

He acknowledged there were failings in the past, particularly in relation to Brendan Symth, which he regretted.

In relation to two priests against whom allegations were made that are still in active ministry within the diocese, the bishop said their cases had been reported to the gardaí and the HSE.

He said the gardaí found there was no basis for prosecution and the HSE decided there was no risk to children and the allegations were never substantiated.

1213 A review into the handling of historical clerical sex abuse in the Diocese of Derry has criticised the manner in which allegations were dealt with by church authorities.

The report found there had been a "real lack of awareness of the suffering caused to victims by abusers" and an ignorance of the habitual nature of child abusing.

The review found priests against whom allegations had been made were "not robustly challenged or adequately managed" and that problems were often handled by moving the priest to another parish where there was evidence that the "abusive behaviour" often continued.

The authors said there wasn't sufficient emphasis placed on "prompt referral to the police and social services".

Case recording was also found to be "poor and unstructured".

Psychological and psychiatric assessments of priests were not acted on.

However, the report commends the response of the recently retired Bishop of Derry, Dr Seamus Hegarty, for his "enthusiasm and commitment" in dealing with the National Board.

1140 The review of the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise has noted the good co-operation given to it by Bishop Colm O'Reilly.

Reviewers found file keeping was very good and all documentation they required was made available.

The report found 14 allegations were made to gardaí concerning priests in the diocese since January 1975 and of those only one is alive and he is no longer in ministry.

One priest was convicted of offences against a child during the period.

There are two other retired priests against whom were allegations made currently resident in the diocese.

The report makes ten recommendations concerning training and administration, which the Board has asked the bishop to implement quickly.

The board has expressed satisfaction that the majority of these are already being advanced.

1137 The Derry Diocese report has revealed allegations were made against 23 priests since January 1975.

The report reveals that 31 allegations of abuse were reported to the gardaí and the PSNI over the same period.

Seven of the priests against whom allegations were made are still living, 16 are deceased and none of the priests in the Diocese were convicted of any offences against children.

The report found historically allegations against priests were not robustly challenged or adequately managed and problems were often handled by moving them to postings elsewhere.

It also found evidence that abusive behaviour continued to be exhibited by priests who were moved on.

The authors of the report also found that it was not clear that sufficient emphasis was placed on the prompt referral of the allegations to the police, which then led to delays in referring cases to the statutory authorities.

The authors of the report commended the recently retired Bishop of Derry Seamus Hegarty for his enthusiasm and commitment in dealing with the investigation.

1122 In addition to Smyth there were seven other priests in the Diocese of Kilmore who had claims of abuse made against them between January 1975 and November 2010.

All seven were reported to the gardaí and the HSE or the health boards.

Four of the alleged abusers are still alive. Only one priest has been convicted during the period of the review, according to the report.

The report states there were "no cases of a failure to report and address matters when they came to light."

The report acknowledges that in the most recent case of abuse, laicisation had already been applied for and granted to a priest convicted of abuse.

The report makes several recommendations to Bishop Leo O'Reilly including the appointment of a lay person to the role of designated person and suggests planning a diocesan safeguarding conference.

1120 The report has found current practices in the Diocese of Kilmore are of a "consistently high standard" and the Diocese "may be viewed as a model of best practice within the Church in this critical area."

The report praises Bishop Leo O'Reilly. Kilmore is one of the smallest dioceses in the country and has 36 parishes as well as seven religious orders within the diocese.

The only male order is that of the Norbertines Canons based at Kilnacrott Abbey where Fr Brendan Smyth, was a member.

The response to Smyth was inadequate and showed a disregard for the safety of children, according to the report.

However, none of that can be attributed to the present bishop and the report states that Smyth was a member of a religious order and not a priest attached to the diocese.

1112 The report says the commitment to safeguarding children that is evident in the Archdioceses of Tuam today "appears not to have existed in previous years".

It says many of the cases managed by Archbishop Neary's predecessors contained practices that were "defensive and internally focused, which would be entirely unacceptable today and showed a lack of awareness of the suffering caused by abusers". No trace of that remained today, it says.

It says in the past there were delays in taking action in relation to priests against whom allegations were made but since his installation Archbishop Neary has shown "authority and quiet resolve" in keeping men out of the ministry where there was evidence to suggest they could be viewed as dangerous and should not have access to young people.

It said he had done this even when he had met resistance and opposition.

1110 The audit on the Archdioceses of Tuam is sharply critical of the way in which allegations of child abuse were handled in the past and says "serious harm was done to children by a few priests of the archdioceses".

It says current Archbishop Dr Michael Neary is "showing strong leadership" and has been dealing with allegations made against priests with "a steadily serious approach and is taking appropriate action under existing guidelines"

The report says allegations of child abuse were made against 18 priests of the dioceses since 1975. Two priests were brought before the courts and convicted; ten of the 18 are now deceased - including one of those who was convicted.

The remaining eight are not in the ministry.

The report says the commitment to safeguarding children that is evident in the Archdioceses today "appears not to have existed in previous years".

1100 The audit of 14 case files relating to the Diocese of Raphoe names only one priest, now laicised, Eugene Greene, who was jailed in 2000 for the sexual abuse of 26 victims.

The methodology employed was to examine case files comprising complaints, witness statements, respondent statements, respondent statements, notes of interviews and discussions, assessment reports, correspondence and other written material.

People with a safeguarding role within the diocese, including the Bishop and representatives from outside agencies were interviewed. The audit states it found the files to be well ordered, and consistently structured.

1057 The Bishop of the Diocese of Dromore Dr John McAreavey said he accepted all the recommendations.

Speaking at Newry Cathedral, he said many had already been implemented and the remaining recommendations would be put in place as a matter of urgency.

In total, 12 recommendations were made in the review. These include that Bishop McAreavey should consider writing to all complainants upon receipt of an allegation, offering them support and counselling.

1045 The review of how the Diocese of Raphoe handled allegations of child sexual abuse against priests has concluded that "significant errors of judgement were made by successive bishops when responding to allegations that emerged within the diocese."

The review of case files from 1975 to 2010 states "too much emphasis was placed on the situation of the accused priest and too little on the needs of their complainants. Judgements were clouded, due to the presenting problem being for example, alcohol abuse and an inability to hear the concerns about abuse of children, through that presenting problem."

1043 An audit of child protection practices in the Diocese of Dromore has revealed 35 allegations of abuse have been made against ten priests dating back over 30 years.

Of these priests, three are dead while the remaining seven are out of ministry.

The allegations date back to 1 January 1975. There has been no convictions of any priests in the diocese of having committed an offence against a child or a young person.

1042 Bishop of Raphoe Dr Philip Boyce has been speaking to Highland Radio this morning.

He said he was glad the audit for the Raphoe Diocese has now been published and expressed his deepest sympathies to everyone affected.

Asked about what information they contained in relation to Fr Eugene Greene, he said he came in as Bishop of the diocese in October 1995 and when he went through the files he saw no allegations against Fr Eugene Greene.

He said his predecessor Bishop Hegarty had assured him of the same thing.

He said the father of one of the boys who said he was abused had written a letter in the late 1970s but the first he had heard of this letter was 20 years later and he didn't find any trace of it in the files.

He expressed his sincere apologies to those involved and said something should have been done about this complaint but there was no trace of it in the files.

He said this was a tragedy. To his knowledge nothing was destroyed since he came into the diocese.

He described the work of Bishop Hegarty as meticulous.

He said there was no guarantee that the letter had ever come to the Bishops office.

He said there was not an awareness of child abuse in the late 1970s and of the damage it causes to children.

1040 The audit on the Archdioceses of Tuam is sharply critical of the way in which allegations of child abuse were handled in the past.

It says "serious harm was done to children by a few priests of the archdioceses".

However, it adds that the current Archbishop, Dr Michael Neary, is "showing strong leadership" and "is taking appropriate action under existing guidelines".

1020 Bishop of Raphoe Dr Philip Boyce has said that during the past decades there have been very poor judgements and mistakes made in the Diocese of Raphoe and he fully accepts the recommendations contained in the review undertaken by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

In a statement, the Bishop said the review examined all case files from 1975 to 2010 to determine how allegations and concerns were dealt with.

Its purpose was also to interview key persons involved in child safeguarding, judge how cases are currently assessed, how the statutory authorities are notified and determine if there are any current risks to children.

Bishop Boyce said the people of the Diocese of Raphoe have suffered much over the last 20 years with a proportionately high number of priests with complaints of child sexual abuse made against them.

The number of allegations was also high and it is to our shame that we admit this, the Bishop said.

0700 Later this morning, audits of child protection practices, conducted by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, will be published by six of the country's dioceses.

The board's audits of Raphoe, Tuam, Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Kilmore, Dromore and Derry will also be published by the respective dioceses today.

The reviews were stalled for a year by bishops' concerns that they would breach data protection laws by handing over certain information.

The board's head, Ian Elliot, has complained of meeting obstruction from an unidentified source while investigating Raphoe's handling of the abuser, Fr Eugene Greene.

Retired Garda Martin Ridge has accused the diocese itself of obstructing the criminal inquiry that resulted in the jailing of Greene for abusing 26 boys.

However Bishop Boyce has rejected this, saying the gardaí were happy with the co-operation offered.

Mr Elliot has said the value of the audits depends on full and complete access to all relevant documentation and information relating to the abuse of children known to the dioceses subject, where relevant, to the terms of the agreement reached on data processing.