January 28, 2018
By Keith Moor
TWO senior Catholics joined forces to try to save paedophile priest Finian Egan from deportation to Ireland.
Egan, 83, convicted of raping a child and molesting two other young girls, was freed last month after serving half of an eight-year jail term.
But a 2016 decision by then immigration minister Peter Dutton to cancel Egan’s Australian citizenship was recently overturned by Administrative Appeals Tribunal deputy president Justice Janine Stevenson, who ruled that “the correct and preferable decision” was to allow Egan to retain his citizenship.
Mr Dutton, now the Home Affairs Minister, is lodging a Federal Court appeal against that ruling.
Justice Stevenson said Egan had been offered support by Bishop Peter Comensoli and Father Vincent Casey, and this church support and supervision of Egan and “consequently, the existence of mechanisms for the protection of children” had been “a significant consideration” in her decision.
One of Egan’s victims, Kellie Roche, told the Herald Sun on Sunday she was outraged the church had stepped in to try to stop Egan’s deportation.
“The Catholic Church in Australia has a very good record of covering up the activities of paedophile priests but a very poor record of protecting children from them. So why would you have any faith in it being able to stop Egan offending again?” she said.
“He should be deported so no more Australian children are in danger from him.”
In a submission to the AAT, Bishop Comensoli wrote that the risk of reoffending increased when a person was isolated, and that if Egan were returned to Ireland “he would be very isolated”.
“I can retain some supervisory control over his whereabouts and living circum-stances. However if (he) were returned to Ireland, the diocese (of Broken Bay, in NSW) would not be able to supervise him in any way,” he wrote.
Fr Casey, who described Egan as his “friend and mentor”, wrote in his submission that he believed “children would be safer” if Egan were allowed to remain in Australia.
“Here he would be living in a secure location decided by the bishop … under the bishop’s supervision and with people around him who know him and his story. In Ireland he would be anonymous, isolated, sick, and with no supervision.”
Mr Dutton told the Herald Sun his decision to cancel Egan’s citizenship had been the right thing to do.
“Our first responsibility is to protect children,” he said.
“Sexually brutalising a child is the most heinous act a person of trust can commit.”
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