Church child protection watchdog to publish audits

Tuesday 10 December 2013 06.32
The reports will examine the response to allegations since 1975
The reports will examine the response to allegations since 1975

The Catholic Church’s Irish child protection watchdog is to publish reports tomorrow morning on eight church entities.

They will include an audit of the response by Christian Brothers over the past 38 years to allegations of child sexual abuse in day schools.

Also included is a review of the diocese Down and Connor, the largest diocese the watchdog has audited to date.  

It is the fourth tranche of audit reports from the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

Drawing on records in church files, they will examine the response to allegations since 1975.

It will also report on current arrangements for safeguarding children.

At the top of the list of the eight entities are the Christian Brothers’ day schools.

They were only briefly examined by the Ryan Commission when it tracked the crimes of the serial abuser Donal Dunne from his time as a Christian Brother through his departure from the congregation and his subsequent progress as a lay-teacher through six different Catholic schools where, in the words of Judge Sean Ryan, "he physically terrorised and sexually abused children".

The audit of Down and Connor will report on the country’s second-largest Catholic diocese.

Its bishop, Noel Treanor, ran foul of the auditing board when he accused its then CEO Ian Elliot of spinning against the church in the media.

He was subsequently obliged to withdraw the allegation following an independent investigation of the dispute.

The dioceses recently surprised the board’s chairman, John Morgan, by publishing a separately-commissioned audit report.

Armagh is the seat of the leader of the Irish Church, Cardinal Seán Brady, who has been sharply criticised for his actions in the mid 1970s, when he swore teenage victims of Fr Brendan Smyth to secrecy. 

Now in his final year in office, the cardinal will be keen to show that he has improved child protection as he promised he would when he ignored calls for his resignation over the Smyth affair.

The Kiltegan Fathers files may reveal how they dealt with complaints against Fr Eugene Greene, who was jailed for sexually abusing 26 boys in Co Donegal between 1965 and 1992.

Green served with the Kiltegans for ten years in Nigeria before returning to work for the diocese of Raphoe in 1965.

Another Kiltegan child abuser was Fr Thomas Naughton, who was under the authority of the Archdiocese of Dublin at the time he abused children in Valleymount, Co Wicklow and Donnycarney and Ringsend in Dublin.

When the Murphy Commission criticised as "inexcusable" Bishop Donal Murray’s failure to act on complaints against Naughton in 1983, the bishop was forced to resign.  

Observers will be interest to see if the auditors found anything on the files which might throw any light on what the authorities in the Kiltegan Fathers knew about their man as Bishop Murray was receiving complaints about him.

The audit on Cashel and Emly will be watched carefully for any mention of Tipperary man Fr Oliver O’Grady who was trained and then ordained there in 1971.

He went on to abuse in the United States, costing the dioceses of Los Angeles millions of dollars in compensation pay-outs.

The other dioceses on which audits will be published are Kerry, Ossory, which takes in most of Kilkenny, and Achonry, whose Cathedral town is Ballaghadereen in Co Roscommon.

The reports are expected to be published on diocesan websites at 10am tomorrow morning.

The eight church entities will be keen to focus on the highly significant improvements in child protection which the audits are likely to identify in the past decade or so.

They feel this may mitigate somewhat the inevitable negative publicity that will result from yet another trawl through a shameful era for Catholicism.

Various organisations’ telephone helplines will be available to people affected by the information contained in the reports. 

Keywords: catholic church