Altar Boys Were Abused during Kerry Holidays

By Dónal Nolan
December 2, 2009

ALTAR boys were abused in Kerry by two priests of the Dublin Archdiocese during trips to the county in the 1970s, it was revealed in the Report of the Commission this week.

It emerged that one of the priests who abused children in his care during a Kerry trip, Fr William Carney, was reinstated to his priestly duties by former Kerry bishop, Kevin McNamara, even after he had admitted to abusing children. That evidence emerged in a shocking indictment of McNamara's record as Archbishop of Dublin contained in the report.

Fr Carney — who was restored to priestly duties by Archbishop McNamara after he pleaded guilty to charges of child sex abuse in 1983 — abused one young boy on a trip to Kerry in the late 1970s, the Commission heard. He fondled his victim's penis on that occasion as they stayed in an unspecified Kerry location. The victim told gardaí that Fr Carney had fondled his penis with his hand, but that no other abuse had taken place on the trip. The group was also accompanied by another infamous predator, Fr Francis McCarthy — who accepted that he and Fr Carney had taken two groups of altar boys to Tralee for a week's holidays. Fr McCarthy, who pleaded guilty in 1997 to abusing two people, told investigators he was unaware of any untoward behaviour on the visit.

In another account of a Kerry trip, an unnamed priest attached to the ProCathedral in the early 1970s took a group of altar boys on holiday to a farm outside of Tralee. One of his victims recounted the trip, but no evidence was contained in the report of any abuse carried out there. Meanwhile, calls have been made for an inquiry into clerical child sex abuse in the Kerry diocese, where 11 priests have been complained on sex-abuse grounds since 1955.

Only one Kerry priest, Firies native, Fr John Brosnan, has ever been convicted of sex abuse within the Kerry diocese. Brosnan was convicted on 13 charges of indecent assault against four girls and one boy during his time as chaplain to a north Kerry primary school between 1977 and 1985. In 1997 he received a four-year prison sentence.

The most recent allegation against a cleric serving in the diocese resulted in that priest stepping aside from his duties in 2005 pending an investigation. However, garda sources have indicated the man is not likely to be prosecuted.

In an interview Friday, Bishop of Kerry, Dr Bill Murphy, said he did not think it necessary to carry out an official inquiry into child sex abuse by Kerry clergy. However, Bishop Murphy said that if an inquiry was set up to examine abuse here the diocese would welcome it and assist it fully.

Bishop Murphy was unavailable for comment this week as he was out of the country, but a statement he made read out at masses in Kerry on Sunday said he was 'deeply sadded and shamed by the content of the Judge Murphy report'.

"I want to offer my sincere sympathy and regret to those who have experienced child sexual abuse, even though I realise I can never fully understand the depth of their suffering and pain. The report documents evil and criminal activity and highlights a dreadful failure to respond to it appropriately.

"I renew my appeal to all who were sexually abused by clergy to come forward if they have not already done so. I assure them that they will be treated with respect and dignity," the statement read.

One of the county's most high-profile survivors of abuse, John Prior, said the Bishop's response did not go far enough to addressing the wrongs inflicted by the institutional Church at root level however. He called for an immediate inquiry to be established in Kerry.



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