The Ferns Report - Catalogue of abuse spreads throughout the north

By Diana Rusk
Irish News
October 27, 2005

Although the spotlight has been shone on clerical sex abuse in Ferns, the Catholic Church's six northern dioceses have also been at the centre of a series of sexual abuse convictions and allegations.

Archdiocese of Armagh

Eight priests have been suspended in the last five decades due to allegations of sexual abuse, according to a diocesan spokesman.

He refused to say if any are currently suspended following allegations.

The one conviction within the diocese came in November 2004.

One of the longest sentences ever given to a clergyman for sexual abuse in Ireland, it was imposed on Father Michael Gerard McQuillan.

The Armagh city priest was ordered to serve 12 years in prison after he was found guilty of 40 sexual abuse charges involving five children.

In a statement following the sentencing at Newry Crown Court, the Archbishop of Armagh, Sean Brady, personally apologised for the hurt caused to Fr McQuillan's young victims.

"To those who have suffered abuse in this case and who have been so gravely wronged, I offer my most sincere sympathy," he said.

Diocese of Down and Connor

Four priests are currently suspended within the diocese following allegations of sexual abuse.

Spokesman Fr John McManus said the information was being given in order to remain "open and honest" but warned parishioners not to make dangerous comparisons.

Nine Down and Connor priests have been suspended for allegations of sexual abuse over the last 50 years and there have been two abuse convictions.

In 1994 the conviction of a priest who served in west Belfast brought down the Irish government and opened the floodgates for hundreds of sexual abuse claims.

Fr Brendan Smyth, a priest from the Norbertine Community, was jailed for four years for sexually abusing children over a 20-year period.

Following his release from Magilligan Prison, Fr Smyth was later sentenced at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after admitting 74 counts of sexual abuse in the Republic.

One of his victims shouted "Rot in hell, Smyth" as the priest was led from the court to begin his 12-year sentence.

He died a year later in prison.

Fr Sean Fortune, who had served in south Belfast, appeared before Wexford District Court in March 1999 on 29 charges of sexual abuse.

Fr Fortune, who had spent two years working at Holy Rosary parish, south Belfast, died by suicide while on bail for the charges of serious sexual abuse against boys.

It later emerged that police had investigated at least three claims of abuse relating to Fr Fortune's time in Belfast.

Last April Fr Daniel Curran was given a suspended 18 month sentence after admitting two counts of indecent assault against a boy while serving at St Paul's parish in west Belfast.

The court heard how the chaplain for a troop of scouts had plied a boy with alcohol before taking him to a cottage near Tyrella beach in Co Down and sexually abusing him during the 1980s.

Last month Co Down priest Father John McCallum was found guilty of 25 charges of viewing pornographic photographs of children between April 1999 and June 2004.

The former Kilcoo parish priest has been placed on the sex offenders register and is due to be sentenced today.

Diocese of Derry

Two priests are currently "not in active ministry" following allegations of child sex abuse, a diocesan spokesman said.

Fr Gerard John McCallion was jailed for two years at Derry Crown Court in January 1996 after pleading guilty to nine charges of indecent assault of two girls aged nine and 10 in Derry's Creggan estate between May 1987 and August 1988.

The diocese said six priests have been suspended or stood down following sex abuse allegations.

Fr Andy McCloskey made a five-figure payment without liability to a man who alleged the priest had made a sexual approach to him in 1992, when he was aged 18.

Bishop of Derry Seamus Hegarty reinstated Fr McCloskey in 1993.

Details of the incident emerged earlier this year.

Diocese of Clogher

There has been one conviction relating to child sex abuse within the diocese, according to a spokesman.

Monsignor Liam McDaid said that a number of suspensions have been made over the last 20 years arising from four allegations of child sex abuse.

He refused to be drawn on the total number of priests under investigation although it has been reported that up to five cases are being examined.

"I don't think it is appropriate to give a name or number in this case because that would be encouraging a manhunt," he said.

"However, they are either deceased or not in active service in the diocese."

Diocese of Raphoe

The diocese did not respond to queries yesterday about current suspensions or convictions.

Fr Eugene Greene was jailed for 12 years in 2000 for abusing children, including altar boys, over a period of 30 years.

The Co Donegal-based priest served in several parishes across the county and from the 1960s raped or sexually assaulted at least 26 boys.

In 2003 former diocesan secretary Paul McDaid was sentenced to two years in prison with the last six months suspended after he was found guilty of posessing 3,000 images of child porn.

Some of the children were as young as three. He left the priesthood in 1996.

In June of this year Fr Patrick McGarvey, was prosecuted following an incident in 2004 in Foyleside Shopping Centre in Derry.

He was found guilty of observing a person in his twenties for sexual gratification in a public place.

Diocese of Dromore

Five priests have been suspended for allegations in the diocese within the last five decades, a spokesman said.

Two were tried but were later acquitted.























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