Victim Speaks of His Hurt at Church's Psychological Report

By Sarah Saunderson
The Impartial Reporter
May 2, 2013

Michael Connolly.

A victim of clerical abuse in the Clogher diocese has revealed the settlement he received would not be enough "to buy a good second hand car".

Mr. Michael Connolly, abused by a priest in the early 1970s in Donagh, was speaking after the Diocese said it would not reveal the amount it has paid out in compensation to victims.

Bishop Liam MacDaid last week made public "The Review of Safeguarding Practice in the Diocese of Clogher", an audit by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCCI). In it, case files from 1975 to 2012 were examined. It showed there were 23 allegations about clerical sex abuse made to police authorities.

The diocese is refusing to reveal the level of compensation made to victims of abuse here. Bishop MacDaid explained: "It has been our policy that it is the perogative of the victim to give any information on settlements that have been made".

Mr. Michael Connolly, a victim of Canon Peter Duffy, uncle to former Bishop of Clogher the Rt. Rev. Joseph Duffy, said: "As regards compensation, I am not going into how much. I will say this much: it would not buy me a good, second hand car."

The diocese sold off St. Patrick's Agricultural College in County Monaghan to fund legal settlements to clerical abuse victims.

Mr. Connolly said there were methods the church use to "mitigate against clerical abuse victims when going to compensation".

"In my own psychological report, the psychologist stated that I was getting paid for the service I was giving to the priest. That is why I was going back to be abused." Mr. Connolly categorically rejects this assertion. "I was an 11 year old child at the time and had no understanding of what was going on in my life.

"The abuse goes on. Can you believe they hired a professor to come over from London to speak to me? This must have cost a lot of money. What I received will not see me through college," he said. Mr. Connolly is currently studying for a Law degree in Donegal.

Responding to the allegations about his uncle, Former Clogher Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Joseph Duffy said: "In September 2008 I received a letter from a man stating that he had been sexually abused as a boy, in the early 1970s, by Father Peter Duffy who died in 1994. My initial reaction to this letter was one of deep shock as this was the first time that I was made aware of abuse by Father Duffy. The survivor's story was heart-breaking and profoundly moving. It described a stolen childhood and the painful legacy of abuse which he lives daily.

"When I received this letter I contacted the survivor and apologised for the abuse by the priest. I offered to meet him, if he so wished, at a venue of his choice and at his convenience. He accepted and we met in person. He bravely and generously shared his experience with me. His was a very difficult story to tell and affected me deeply. Subsequently counselling and other support was arranged for him.

"Since then two other victims have reported abuse by Father Duffy. All these cases have been investigated by the PSNI.

"Sexual abuse is a heinous crime, a serious sin, and must always be condemned. When the perpetrator of abuse is a priest a sacred trust has been irrevocably betrayed. As Father Duffy was an uncle of mine I feel an even greater sense of shame and personal connection with this very sad story.

"I encourage any person who has been abused by a member of the clergy or religious to contact the civil authorities and the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland. The role of the 'Towards Healing' service, which has been developed in consultation with representatives of survivors, is to meet the counselling and support service needs of survivors of abuse".

Mr. Connolly's case is particularly tragic. As a child he was a victim of the McDermott brothers in his home village of Donagh and was later abused by the parish priest.

Last Wednesday, Mr. Connolly travelled to St. Macartan's College in Monaghan just after the report was launched.

He explained to a Bishop's representative that he was seeking an Clerical Abuse Enquiry in Northern Ireland.

"I spoke to [Father] Shane McCaughey and had a long lengthy meeting and opened the channel of communication with him. I did not cut any ice with him and made in no uncertain terms I will be going after a clerical abuse enquiry. Victims of clerical abuse will not be satisfied until there is a transparent enquiry into what took place.

"A Northern Ireland Clerical Abuse enquiry is the last enquiry to be carried out on the island of Ireland. Why should the victims of abuse in Northern Ireland be ignored?" he asked.

Turning to the Clogher diocese audit, he said: "The report shows the failings of the Catholic Church, the failings to take action and why it failed to take action. There are areas that haven't been covered at all.

"The church is bankrolling the report. They are in control of what is published in the report and what isn't published. That does not give victims in the Clogher diocese the confidence that everything that should be covered has been covered.

The other issue I have concerns about is that there are no names of priests. We do know what parish these priests actually were attached to," he said.

"There are a lot of positive things the church has moved forward implementing a lot of new ideas and protection of children which is very welcome. I am very happy to see that. The fact of the matter is that the church has not changed its structure, it is still an archaic organisation and it needs to be changed from the top to the bottom. That is the whole problem," he added.

The report states that from cases examined it was clear that opportunities for preventative interventions were consistently missed when concerns of abuse by clergy were highlighted in the past.

*In one particular case, there was an unacceptable delay in taking action against a priest and removing him from all ministry, following receipt of a credible allegation.

*In another, a priest of the diocese was suspected of multiple incidents of abuse, but was not removed from ministry, transferred to another parish and eventually sent overseas for therapeutic help. He remained outside this jurisdiction and was eventually extradited back to this country several years later but died before he could be brought before the courts.

Mr. Connolly had expressed concern that this priest referred to in the report could have been Canon Peter Duffy who had abused him but now believes this is not the case as the abuse took place in 1971 while the report looked into cases between 1975 and 2012. "This underlines the argument for an enquiry," said Mr. Connolly.

"Survivors do not want to have to sit around and wait for the outcome of another report and for the drip, drip, drip of information. It is time an enquiry was put into action and let us get on with our lives. There is another very serious report that Mr. Elliott [Chief Executive of the NBSCCCI] has done on Father Brendan Smyth that is coming out in June," he said.


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