Diocese of Cloyne Wanted to See State Documents

By Patsy McGarry
The Irish Times

December 30, 2008

THE DIOCESE of Cloyne demanded to see all documents the State possessed concerning an allegation of sex abuse made against one of its priests, before it would agree to meet HSE officials on the case earlier this year.

The relevant allegation concerned a priest referred to as “Father A” in the report by the National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) of the Catholic Church in Ireland, published on December 19th last.

The report found child protection practice in the diocese to be “inadequate and in some respects dangerous”.

The allegation, by another priest, claimed he had been abused when a young boy by “Father A” and that this matter had not been properly dealt with by Cloyne diocese, particularly by Bishop John Magee.

The priest making the allegation did so through the One in Four agency which helps people who have experienced abuse as children.

On October 8th, 2007, One in Four passed on the allegation to the HSE for investigation. Under terms of the 1991 Child Care Act the HSE is the State agency with responsibility for child protection issues, including the conduct of an audit of Catholic Church child-protection practices.

A report on the results of that audit is to be presented to the Cabinet next Wednesday.

In correspondence with NBSC chief executive Ian Elliott on February 28th last, an official at the Office of the Minister for Children noted: “The audit being conducted by the HSE is the key tool in allowing the Minister to decide whether to refer further dioceses to the Commission of Investigation into the Dublin Archdiocese as set out in the commission’s terms of reference.’’

The official continued: “A specific allegation has been forwarded from this office to the HSE for examination.

The HSE has indicated that the diocese of Cloyne has insisted on sight of all documentation from this office prior to agreeing to meet HSE officials.

“I understand that this allegation was also discussed with you at a recent meeting (on February 15th last) with officials from this office at which you also expressed some concern in relation to the approach generally of this diocese in regard to child protection,’’ the official added.

It is understood that, following consultation with One in Four, the HSE complied with that insistence by Cloyne diocese on its seeing all documentation prior to a meeting, which then did take place.

Meanwhile, Fr Michael Mernagh continues his walk of atonement today in solidarity with victims of clerical sex abuse from Dungarvan, Co Waterford, this morning. He leaves the town on the 28-mile trek to Waterford city. To date on his walk, which ends at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral on Tuesday next, he said he has been receiving “wonderful support”.

He was accompanied by members of the South East Support Group as he left Youghal for Dungarvan yesterday.

Fr Mernagh requests that people who wish to accompany him on the walk only do so in towns and cities along the route, for safety reasons.


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