Further doubts over HSE audit of Cloyne child sexual abuse

By Justine McCarthy
Sunday Tribune
January 11, 2009

A woman whose child abuse by a priest is documented in the Cloyne report sought intercession from Dermot Clifford, the archbishop of Cashel and Emly, but was assured her complaint was handled correctly by Bishop John Magee.

The development raises further doubts about the reliability of the HSE audit published by children's minister Barry Andrews last week and his decision to refer only the Cloyne diocese to the Dublin Commission of Investigation.

Archbishop Dermot Clifford: referred complaint on

The handling of the audit by the Department of Health and Children and the HSE, which found no diocese had breach­ed the Ferns guidelines despite the bishops' refusal to supply basic information about complaints, is being investigated by Emily Logan, Ombudsman for Children.

Clifford, who is head of the ecclesiastical province encompassing Cloyne, and who spoke in support of Magee last week, refer­red the woman to Fr Michael Mullaney, the child protection delegate in his archdiocese, Cashel and Emly. The woman has kept a note of a phone conversation last spring in which, she claims, Mullaney, who is vice-president of St Patrick's College, Maynooth, told her Cloyne did everything "according to the book" in relation to her complaint.

At the time of the conversation, Ian Elliott, chief executive of the Catholic Church's National Board for Safeguard­ing Children, was investigating the handling of child sex abuse complaints in Cloyne.

"In desperation, I tried to find somebody higher than Magee who could do something," the woman said. "I felt I was paddling my own canoe... They're like a club. I didn't feel they cared."

In the church's hierarchical structure, Cloyne is a suffragan diocese of Cashel and Emly. It is overseen by the archbishop but each bishop is autonomous in his diocese.

Asked to recollect his conversations with the woman who was repeatedly raped from the age of 13, Fr Mullaney said she phoned Archbishop Clifford last Good Friday while he was preparing for a stations of the cross service and the archbishop put her onto him.

Fr Mullaney said he spoke to her twice in a "strictly advisory capacity", that she was "distressed" and "emotional" and that he ascertained from her the HSE and the gardaí had been notified of her case.

"I knew she was disappointed and frustrated with the way Cloyne had dealt with the case," said the priest, who was an adviser to the Ferns Inquiry and a member of the committee that drew up the church's child protection guidelines. "I went through the steps with her that we would have taken in our diocese. I don't have notes of the conversation but I would have said that Bishop Magee had under-utilised his canonical powers and he could have done more to restrict the priest [the alleged abuser].

"I have spoken to the archbishop and I asked him if he followed up afterwards. He said he phoned Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan... delegate in Cloyne at the time, and he reassured the archbishop that everything that could be done was being done."

The HSE report's credibility is further undermined by the clearance certificate it grants to Cloyne's neighbour­ing diocese of Limerick. The same case-management advisory committee that was in charge of complaints in Cloyne has been operating in Limerick.

Meanwhile, survivors of abuse by Cloyne priests have called on the State not to allow Magee to "cooperate" with the Dublin Commission's investigation of the diocese.

They argue that he failed to deal with their complaints, attempted to block the Elliott inquiry last year and supplied untrue information to the HSE and, therefore, should not be relied on to provide the Commission with the facts it requires.








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