Gsoc Finds Garda Failings in Handling Abuse Claims

RTE News
July 23, 2015

The Cloyne Report found gardai did not act on information received

A report by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission into the handling by gardai of allegations of child sexual abuse, which were raised in the Cloyne Report in 2011, has found evidence of failures on the part of the gardai.

However, the GSOC report says no offences appear to have been committed by gardai, and it is not recommending any disciplinary action.

The Commission of Investigation Report into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne in 2011 outlined evidence given to the inquiry which indicated that gardai did not act on information received in relation to complaints of sexual abuse in the diocese.

GSOC launched a public interest investigation in March 2012 to establish whether these matters may have constituted an offence by members of the gardai or whether they justified disciplinary proceedings.

The GSOC investigation focused on the handling of allegations made by two victims in relation to one priest.

GSOC has said its investigation found some possible explanations as to why formal investigations were not conducted by gardai into serious allegations of sexual abuse.

However, it said while evidence suggests some failures on the part of the gardai, no offences appear to have been committed and no disciplinary proceedings were being recommended.

The GSOC investigation examined whether or not a proper investigation took place in the case of two victims who made allegations of sexual abuse in relation to the same priest.

The victims were given the pseudonyms Nia and Oifa in the Cloyne Report, and the priest was given the pseudonym Fr Corin.

The Cloyne Report outlined that in 1994 and 1996 Nia made allegations to a Catholic bishop regarding sexual abuse by Fr Corin in the late 1960s.

The claims were referred to Macroom Garda Station in Cork, but no further action was taken.

The then District Officer of Macroom Garda Station acknowledged receipt of a report of historical child sexual abuse, but did not direct a crime investigation.

The GSOC report said he contended that he assumed an investigation had commenced, but its investigation has shown that that assumption was unfounded.

A second victim, Oifa, made very similar allegations relating to the same priest to the Mid Western Health Board.

Gardai from Henry Street in Limerick took a statement from her but there was no further action.

The GSOC report found its investigation and the Cloyne commission evidence both showed that a Health Board notification form was issued by the Mid Western Health Board and was later in the possession of the Southern Health Board.

However, the Health Board notification was unsigned and no evidence exists that it was actually sent to its intended recipient, the then Superintendent at Henry Street Garda Station.

The GSOC report found there was a lack of a policy on the part of the Health Board in addressing historical child sexual abuse allegations and, notably, no policy in relation to notifying the Garda Siochana.

The then District Officer at Henry Street Garda Station in Limerick was unaware of the allegations and a formal investigation was not conducted by Henry Street gardai.

The GSOC report found a statement was reportedly taken from the victims, but this cannot now be located and there is some dispute as to the motivation and authority for it being taken in the first place.

The GSOC report states that it is understood the victim was related by marriage to a garda who requested a colleague to take the statement, however this action was not part of a formal investigation.

The GSOC report said the statement cannot be located by any of those involved, and that these matters remain unsatisfactorily unresolved.

The report states that there were failures of systems and individuals in relation to the handling of the allegations.

The report found that existence of these allegations was known to different individual gardai in Macroom in Co Cork and in Henry Street in Limerick.

It said that the fact that these allegations were known to gardai and not investigated formally indicates that the Garda Siochana as an organisation failed in its duty.

The report found that while there was evidence to suggest two officers may have been in breach of the Garda Siochana (Discipline) Regulations for Neglect of Duty, both are now retired and therefore no longer amenable to these.

GSOC cannot make findings of fact in relation to a breach of the regulations, but can make recommendations to the Garda Commissioner on disciplinary proceedings.

However the GSOC report found that due to the retirement of those concerned, these recommendations are moot.








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