The Bishop of Kerry, Dr Bill Murphy, has revealed that the diocese has paid out more than €250,000 in settlement of three cases where allegations of child sex abuse were made against priests.

Dr Murphy said there had been allegations of child sex abuse made against 11 priests in the diocese over the past 50 years.

In at least some of those cases, more than one complaint was made against individual priests.

The figures are based on an examination of records kept by the diocese.

Bishop Murphy said in one case a priest has been convicted and served a prison sentence, while in three cases the Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to proceed with a prosecution.

He said two of the priests against whom allegations were made were dismissed from the priesthood on the orders of Pope John Paul II. Two applied for and were granted laicisation, three are no longer in ministry and four others are dead.

Some of the complaints were made within the past five years while others were described as being ‘very historic’.

Bishop Murphy said he had listened to the stories of those who had been abused by priests with a sense of profound sadness and regret.

He said he was concerned, in a particular way, for those who had been hurt and betrayed because of the abusive behaviour of priests of the Diocese of Kerry.   

He said complaints of child sexual abuse are passed on to the Health Service Executive and to the Gardaí.   

A childcare committee has also been in place in the diocese since 1996. Its members include professionals with expertise in psychology, medicine, pastoral care, counselling and law.

Cork and Ross

Allegations of child sexual abuse have been made against a total of 12 priests in the Diocese of Cork and Ross over the past 20 years.

The complaints related mainly to the two decades from 1975 to 1995.

A spokesman for the diocese said that of the 12 priests involved, four were prosecuted and convicted in the courts. Two are understood to have been sentenced to jail while the other two are believed to have received suspended sentences.

In the remaining eight cases, some of the priests were cleared of the allegations made against them and one of the complaints is understood to have been found to be false and treated as malicious.

The spokesman said that gardaí were informed of all the allegations, except in instances where the complaints had been made directly to the gardaí in the first instance.

He also said that in all cases where the allegations had been substantiated, the priest involved was permanently debarred from ministry.

The diocese offers counselling and support to victims of sex abuse by its priests and offers therapy to the priests involved.

The spokesman said the Diocese of Cork and Ross is currently dealing with a claim against it in an amicable and non-adversarial way. He said the diocese had made no financial settlements and had no other claims outstanding.

Down and Conor

The largest Catholic diocese in Northern Ireland, Down and Connor, has released statistics which show that 15 priests have been accused of child sex abuse over the past 50 years.

Five of the priests involved were dead at the time the allegations were made.

Three priests have been convicted and payments totalling £102,000 were made to ten people because of two priests.

Three of the priests accused are still in ministry and one investigation has recently been re-opened by police.

The priest in question denies the allegations which date back more than 20 years, while the other two priests were returned to ministry after their cases were investigated in 1992 and 1996.

Two civil actions against one priest are pending, two other priests have been suspended and a further two have retired.

The diocese of Down and Connor covers the city of Belfast and Co Antrim, along with most of Co Down and a part of south Derry. It has over 317,000 Catholics in 88 parishes.

From initial figures supplied by Catholic dioceses around the country and in Northern Ireland, it appears that more than 240 clerics were accused of sex abuse over the past 40 years.