Paedophile priest gets 7 years for indecent assaults on girls

Irish Times
November 20, 1997

A self-confessed paedophile priest has been jailed for seven years for indecently assaulting young girls. Father Martin Greaney (56), a priest in the archdiocese of Tuam, was taken away in handcuffs from Ballina Circuit Court after sentencing yesterday. Greaney was before the court on 13 charges of assaulting eight girls, aged 10 to 14 in counties Mayo, Galway and Tipperary between 1979 and 1990. He pleaded guilty and Judge Harvey Kenny was told that other offences came to light over a 30-year period during the course of the investigations.

Sentencing Greaney, Judge Kenny said that as a Catholic priest he was respected, trusted and enjoyed the confidence of his parishioners, particularly the parents of the young victims. "But in violating that trust, respect and confidence you did untold damage to the parents within your community and I am quite sure they will find it very difficult in their hearts to forgive the trouble you caused in their families."

The judge said the 30 or so children, now adults, had been destroyed by his actions and the priest had ruined their capacity to form relationships. "They are finding it difficult to get on with their boyfriends or live with their husbands and in one case you destroyed the relationship between a daughter and her father. All these relationships are very important but through your dastardly conduct you destroyed their lives."

The judge said it was also very important in the education system that teachers be able to relate freely with pupils, particularly in the extra-school curriculum. "But your conduct has made it very difficult for the good teachers to fulfil their curriculum and build up a relationship which affects the education of children all over the country."

The judge told Greaney he had also devastated his own church, for several of the victims no longer went to Mass and did not want anything to do with priests. Detailed evidence in the case was given by Det Garda John Clancy who described the assaults which took place in a presbytery, in schools and in a car. In a statement, the defendant said he had treatment for his sexual problems and had withdrawn from his ministerial involvement. He said he could not offer any excuses for his behaviour and found it impossible to control himself.

He wished to say sorry to the families, the children, the Catholic Church, his family and friends. "I did not set out to cause anyone any harm".

Father John O'Boyle expressed "the great concern of Archbishop Michael Neary for the victims in the unfortunate case, for the term of suffering they have gone through, especially their families and all concerned". The pastoral services of the diocese were at the disposal of these people and they were praying that the ministry of priests in the diocese and other dioceses would not be jeopardised.



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