over HSE audit of Cloyne child sexual abuse
By Justine McCarthy
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
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
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
"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
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.