The Priestly Predators
37 religious who abused children - and their vocation

The Fr Fortune affair was just another black mark in a sickening litany of child sexual abuse within the Irish Catholic Church. Over the last decade there have been almost forty more . . .

By Rachel Andrews, Catherine Cleary, and Liam Reid
Sunday Tribune
April 7, 2002

[The links below were added by to make it easier for the reader to use this article. The links are in alphabetical order; the paragraphs about the priests in the article itself are not. Five priests are discussed at greater length in this article: Fr Brendan Smyth, Fr James Prunty, Fr Tony Walsh, Fr Ivan Payne, and Fr Donal Dunne. Note that all the men described in this article were priests or brothers at the time of the alleged abuse, and at least one allegedly abused after he was laicized. If a person is still a priest or a brother, he is called Fr... or Brother... below, but former priests and brothers are not so called.]

[ Fr Andrew Allen | Fr John Brosnan | Fr Michael Carney | Fr Donal Collins | Fr Daniel John Curran | Fr Tadhg Dalaigh | Fr James Doyle | Fr Donal Dunne | Paul Farrell | Fr Martin Greaney | Fr Eugene Greene | Fr Gus Griffin | Brendan John Halpin | John Hannon | Fr Michael Hobbs | Brother Joseph Keegan | Brother James Kelly ('Brother Ambrose') | Patrick James 'Jack' Kelly | Robert Keoghan | Fr John Kinsella | Brother Francis Patrick Mallon | Fr Henry Maloney | Fr Paul McGennis | Fr Michael Mullins | Fr James Murphy | James Murphy | Fr Thomas Naughton | Fr Ivan Payne | Sam Penney | Fr James Prunty | Brother Dennis Quirke | Fr Brendan Smyth | Fr Tony Walsh | Religious brother | West of Ireland priest | Kilkenny Priest | Co Cork Priest ]

At one stage they were the most respected members of the community, enjoying unrivalled trust and respect.

Now these 37 men are perhaps the most detested group in the country, who have lost everything, and caused untold damage to the institution for they had at onestage professed undying love and commitment.

Since the end of 1991, nearly 40 Irish-born Catholic priests, brothers and former religious have been convicted of child abuse in Ireland and Britain, fourtimes the number in the previous ten years.

There is no pattern to the abuse, save to say that it occurred while the men were active in their ministries, and in most cases the attacks were against children in their care, or sons and daughters of friends or parishioners.

They abusers were of all ages, and they were convicted for abuse that took placefrom the early 1950s right up to the mid 1990s. The majority of the abusers carried out their abuse when in their 20s and 30s although some, such as BrendanSmyth, carried on right up into his 60s.

The sentences they received varied from 12 years to suspended sentences, and depended on the severity of the abuse, the present age and health of the perpetrator.

Despite what would appear to most people to be a large number, the Catholic Church in Ireland says that the problem of child abuse is no better, no worse than in society at large.

It points out that the 48 priests, brothers and former clerics that have been convicted since 1983 account for just 1% of the total number of clergy, the samefigure as the estimated proportion of child sexual abusers in the general publicat large. With 20 on remand awaiting trial, even if they are convicted, the proportion would still be commensurate with the general population.

It has to be noted that it is a case of "a few rotten apples", and serving priests and brothers are like the general public, shocked and disgusted at the actions of the abusers.

However there is now mounting evidence that child abuse has been a particular problem for the Catholic clergy and religious, and that it has affected a greater proportion, when compared with the general public.

Indeed a number of clerics themselves have suggested this. "Overall, however, the modern church appears to have an exceptional problem with celibacy, and the (large) 'tip of the iceberg' of the celibacy difficulty is sexual abuse of minors, " Brother Barry Coldrey, a Christian Brother and expert in child abuse has written. [See Coldrey, Religious Life Without Integrity, ch. 7.]

Indeed Coldrey uncovered letters in the archives of the Christian Brothers from the 1930s and 1940s which refer to child abuse being a particular problem among some Christian Brothers in Australia.

"The best American research confirms that 5%-7% of priests have molested children; scattered evidence from the English-speaking world generally suggests a similar figure; and my own research in one (large) religious congregation would provide confirmation". [See Coldrey, Religious Life Without Integrity, ch. 7.]

Coldrey's argument would appear to be borne out by other figures, which would appear to reflect the true situation and extent of abuse among the clergy in thepast.

Last week the Granada Institute told another newspaper that it had treated 100 religious for psychosexual disorders, significantly more than the 48 convicted. According to several court cases over the last decade, many other priests and religious were sent to the US and England to specialist clinics such as Gracewell Institute in Moseley.

There have also been a huge number of cases, at least 50, where the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided not to make charges because of the length of time elapsed since the alleged abuses.

The level of abuse, and whether it was peculiar to religious orders or religious-run institutions, will also form part of the Laffoy Commission's inquiries.

It is estimated that the clerics and former clerics convicted of child abuse in the last decade would have each abused an average of 30 victims each, and some would have abused hundreds of children. Whatever the truth about statistics there are at least 1,200 victims of child abuse because of these 37 men.

Fr James Doyle  One of four abusers from the parish of Ferns, he was convicted in 1990 and moved to England. His case caused further controversy when The Observer revealed in 1994 that the priest still had access to children.

Fr Michael Mullins  In 1991, the Ottawa-based parish priest was jailed for eight years by the Central Criminal Court for "a brutal assault" of a 17-year-old boy he had brought to his rented home in Cork that year. Mullins, a native of Cork, admitted to the aggravated sexual assault at Oldcourt Place in Rochestown, having picked the youth up in Cork city centre following a disco.

Religious brother  In 1992, an unnamed religious brother received one of the longest sentences ever handed down for child abuse, when he was jailed for 18 years for the buggery and rape of schoolboys at a primary school in the west of Ireland. The brother, who is now 60, pleaded guilty to the offences, which occurred between 1986 and 1991 while he was the boys' teacher. In 1994, the Supreme Court reduced the sentence to 12 years.

Sam Penney  A former cleric, and Cork native, Penney was jailed for seven years in 1993 for abusing both boys and girls over a 13-year period to 1992 while he was a priest in the Birmingham area.

West of Ireland priest  In July 1993, a middle-aged priest was jailed for 10 years (last five suspended) for buggering and raping an altar boy in his house and while on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, over a five-year period ending in 1990.

Fr Michael Carney  In April 1994, Fr Michael Carney, then a parish priest at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Galway, was given a suspended sentence for the assault of an 18-year-old hitchhiker. While on the way home from a priests' reunion in Maynooth, Carney had picked up the student in Athlone. The student had actually been hitching a lift in the other direction.

Brother Francis Patrick Mallon  In May 1994, the Servite Brother was jailed for three months for abusing three young girls in the grounds of the Servite Priory at Benburb, Co Tyrone.

Fr Daniel John Curran  In 1995, a Belfast court sentenced Curran to seven years for the abuse of young boys at an isolated cottage in Co Down. Curran, from Broughshane Road in Ballymena and who had at one stage been parish priest at St Paul's parish in west Belfast, used to bring the boys to the holiday cottage and ply them with beer and cider before abusing them.

Fr Martin Greaney  In 1996, Greaney, a native of Tuam, Co Galway, was sentenced to seven years for indecently assaulting eight girls whose average age was 12. He pleaded guilty to 13 sample charges from several Irish counties between 1979 and 1990.

Greaney, described as having a "magnetic personality", was always surrounded by children, whom he abused in a number of houses, his home and in school. On two occasions he assaulted one of the girls in a choir loft. On another occasion he fondled a girl while talking nonchalantly with other children. One was molested in a neighbour's house after Greaney had said a Mass there.

Kilkenny Priest  In 1996, a parish priest was jailed for six years following the largest-ever investigation into child abuse at the time. He had abused at least two boys, one of them with severe learning difficulties who had been living in a caravan at the end of the priest's garden. The abuse emerged after gardai had arrested one of the young men, now in his early 30s, for an indecent assault on a youth. The young man then revealed how he had been abused by the Kilkenny priest.

Fr John Brosnan  The Kerry priest was sentenced to four years in 1997, having pleaded guilty to 13 charges of sexual abuse against four girls and a boy between 1977 and 1985 while serving as a school chaplain. Following Brosnan's conviction, the Bishop of Kerry, Dr William Murphy, expressed his concern that his predecessor, the late Dr Diarmuid Suilleabhain, knew about allegations concerning sex abuse of young people by one of his priests as far back as 1989, but failed to act on the matter.

Fr Paul McGennis  In 1997, McGennis, then 66, was jailed for abusing Marie Collins in the early 1960s, and another girl in the late 1970s. The handling of the complaint against McGennis by Cardinal Connell and the Archdiocese of Dublin, when it was reported by Marie Collins in 1996, is now the subject of a major controversy for the cardinal.

Fr Thomas Naughton  A former missionary priest with St Patrick's Missionary Order (the Kiltegan Fathers), Naughton, now aged 72, who had returned to Ireland in 1976, pleaded guilty in 1998 to abusing altar boys at Donnycarney and Ringsend parishes between 1976 and 1988. He had been sent to England for treatment in 1986 after complaints were made to the church authorities. He was jailed in 1998.

Co Cork Priest  In November 1998, the priest received a suspended 11-year sentence after admitting to the abuse of two 12-year-old boys in 1988-89. In 1990, the priest, who cannot be named for legal reasons, confessed to his bishop, and undertook treatment and therapy. Neither boy reported the offences, but in 1997 one of them saw the priest wearing his clerical collar and became concerned. The victim had believed that the man had left the priesthood and he only reported the offences to protect other potential victims. The priest had continued his ministry under supervision and was kept away from circumstances in which he could meet young boys until his arrest in March.

Fr Gus Griffin  In 1998, Holy Ghost Father Gus Griffin had a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for child abuse cut to 18 months following an appeal, and on condition he moved to an abbey. Griffin, a high profile priest who had edited RTE's Outlook programme, was sentenced by the Dublin Circuit Court in July 1997 after he pleaded guilty to four sample charges relating to offences from 1976 to 1983.

Fr Tadhg Dalaigh  In November 1999, the 59-year-old priest received a three-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a 12-year-old boy in Sacred Heart College, Carrignavar, Co Cork, in the early 1970s. "I spent 22 years of my life running away from something that was not my fault. At the time I was not in a position to turn to anyone. We were not able to speak about these things, " he said, adding that he was very sorry for what he had done. He was abused himself when he was nine and had received counselling in recent years.

Fr John Kinsella  Three years ago, Kinsella, now 53, received an eight-year sentence after he pleaded guilty at Wicklow circuit court to four counts of indecent assault 28 years ago on two brothers, then aged 12 and 13. Kinsella, from Arklow, has been working in the UK since 1973, just after the offences occurred. He admitted bringing the boys on different occasions to his hotel room in Lourdes and to his presbytery in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, where he gave them alcohol, assaulted them and forced them to engage in oral sex.

Brother Dennis Quirke  A Brother of Charity, Quirke, who sexually abused a 13-year-old boy he befriended at a prayer group in Waterford was imprisoned for two years in 1999. He had been jailed in 1996 for similar offences against a novice. He had been removed from having any contact with children after the offences first came to light in 1990.

Brother Joseph Keegan  A Franciscan brother, who sexually abused five boys, Keegan was jailed for six years by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in 1999. After the sentence was passed, one of his victims shouted: "You know that six years you're serving? When you are let out, I'll be waiting for you." Keegan of Broc House, Nutley Lane, Dublin, pleaded guilty to eight sample charges of gross indecency and sexual assault out of a total of 57 counts. The abuse had taken place over a nine-year period, 1973 to 1982, while Keegan was a coach for a boys' football team. Two altar boys were also abused by him.

John Hannon  Now 60, the former Franciscan brother received two separate sentences of 10 years at different court hearings after pleading guilty to a litany of sexual assaults while a brother between 1967 and 1976 in the midlands and west of Ireland. It emerged during one of the trials, at Galway circuit court, that the mother of three of the victims confronted her parish priest and the educational authorities at the time, who did nothing to prevent the abuse.

Hannon, whose address was not published to protect the identity of his estranged wife and five children, pleaded guilty to 18 sample charges including buggery and indecent assault of young children in his care in a Co Galway village between 1967 and 1972.

Brother James Kelly ('Brother Ambrose')  The case of this Brother of Charity has been one of the most controversial after a 36-year sentence, the longest ever given to a paedophile, was reduced to 18 months on condition that Kelly move to Belgium on his release. Most of Kelly's abusing took place at Lota House, a residential institution in Cork for children with learning difficulties. He has subsequently pleaded guilty to further charges.

Patrick James 'Jack' Kelly  One of the only serving Christian Brothers to have been convicted of child abuse in Ireland, Kelly was jailed in 1999 after pleading guilty and apologising for his abuse. One of his victims, Derek Power, has been one of the strongest campaigners for the rights of survivors of abuse by religious. One of Kelly's victims is also pursuing what could be the first full High Court compensation hearing against a religious order or diocese.

Fr Donal Collins  One of the four known paedophile priests from the diocese of Ferns, Collins was the principal of St Peter's secondary school, and admitted and apologised to victims he abused in the late 1970s. The majority of his sentence was suspended due to his ill-health and contrition.

Brendan John Halpin  In January last year, the 55-year-old Dublin-born former Christian brother was jailed for two years by a Belfast court after he pleaded guilty to a total of 25 charges of indecently assaulting two sisters and their brother between November 1975 and September 1981.

The Teer family gave up their anonymity so that Halpin, who left the order to marry a schoolteacher, could be named. Members of the Teer family who were abused said the prospect of Halpin, then living in Belfast, not being named was "absolutely disgusting".

Paul Farrell  A former Christian Brother, Farrell was sentenced to one year last July for two counts of indecent assault between 7 November 1980 and 31 March 1982, when he worked as deputy director of St Joseph's Industrial School in Salthill. Farrell (53), of Kinvara Road, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty and he has been granted leave to appeal.

Fr Michael Hobbs  Dublin-born Hobbs was convicted in Britain in June 2000 of indecently assaulting a 15-year-old boy who had turned to him for help and guidance. Michael Hobbs, then 53, who admitted during the four-day trial at St Albans Crown Court in Hertfordshire that only last year he had cruised gay bars in Thailand for male sexual company, vigorously denied assaulting the youngster in February this year. The jury of eight men and four women convicted him of the sexual assault after more than four-and-a-half hours of deliberation.

Fr James Murphy  In July 2000, a London court jailed Murphy for 30 months after he pleaded guilty to 11 charges of indecent assault on seven children. Murphy, now 55, from Timoleague, had ministered as a priest in Lower Glanmire in Cork for eight years up until the end of 1999. The Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley, said at the time that there were no complaints against Murphy from his time in Cork.

Fr Henry Maloney  In July 2000, Fr Maloney was jailed for 15 months for the indecent assault of two 12-yearold boys he taught in St Mary's College, Rathmines, Dublin. Maloney, now 63, of Ardbracken House, Co Meath, pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault between September 1971 and June 1972.

James Murphy  In October 2000, the 76-year-old former priest was given a five-year suspended sentence for indecently assaulting two young girls more than 30 years ago. Murphy, married with a family, of Emyvale, Co Monaghan, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three charges of committing the offences on dates from November 1969 to August 1970. The offences occurred in a midlands town, in the diocese of Ossory, where he was curate.

Fr Eugene Greene  In June 2000, the retired Donegal priest, now 73, was sentenced to 12 years after he pleaded guilty to more than 40 charges of indecent assault, buggery and gross indecency. Most of the 26 victims were altar boys who served with the priest in the Donegal area between 1965 and 1982. Two of Greene's victims addressed Judge Matthew Deery before he passed sentence. One man, now 37 years old, cried as he told the court he hoped "the bastard was locked away for life". He said the defendant had put every one of his victims through a life sentence.

Fr Andrew Allen  Last year the missionary priest who sexually abused two boys during visits home from the West Indies was given a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay £150,000 compensation. The Dominican priest was on missionary duty in Trinidad and Tobago during the years of the offences. In 1993, Allen was jailed for a year by Drogheda district court for sexually assaulting an altar boy in 1991 to 1992.

Robert Keoghan  Keoghan, a former Franciscan brother with an address in Tramore, was sentenced to two years in July 2001 for the abuse of eight boys in Galway between 1969 and 1972. During his trial, it emerged that Keoghan had himself been abused while a boy at the Franciscan seminary in Offaly, and had not abused any child since he left the order in 1977.

Fr Brendan Smyth: 'beyond the brink of tears'

Sentenced on Friday 25 July 1997 to 12 years for 74 sex abuse offences against 20 victims. Died a month later in hospital after suffering a heart attack in the Curragh Prison.

As he handed down the sentence, Judge Cyril Kelly described Smyth as a continued danger to society, and said his case was one of the most serious before any court in the land for many years.

Smyth was described as a deep-rooted paedophile who, as recently as April 1995, had shown that his sexual appetite for children was as voracious as ever. He said that while Smyth was being transported from Magilligan prison for police interviews, on each occasion, while travelling through Coleraine, Smyth had seen a schoolgirl and become sexually excited.

Earlier in the trial, the priest had read out a public apology to his victims for his wrongdoing over 36 years.

He had pleaded guilty to the 74 charges in both the Dublin District Court and later in the Circuit Criminal Court.

He pleaded guilty to 62 offences of indecent assault on males and females in a hotel, boarding houses, a cinema, a boathouse, an abbey, a convent and in other venues in several counties within the state on dates from 1 January 1958, to 31 December 1993.

He also pleaded guilty to 12 charges of sexual assaults on males and females on dates from 1 January 1991 to 31 December 1993.

The offences took place in nine counties over four provinces.

Females were the victims in 61 instances. One woman was the victim in 24 of the charges.

When the sentence was read out in court, his victims sobbed with relief. One shouted "rot in hell, Smyth".

In November 1994, after the scandal around Brendan Smyth broke, the then head of the Irish Catholic Church, Cardinal Cahal Daly, said the affair had brought him beyond the brink of tears.

However, Daly had known of some of Smyth's offences before his arrest, but failed to call in the police.

In a letter to the family of one of Smyth's victims in Belfast, before Smyth had been brought to justice, the cardinal wrote:

"There have been complaints about this priest before, and once I had to speak to the superior about him. It would seem there has been no improvement. I shall speak with the superior again."

Fr James Prunty: 'I have betrayed my vocation and my church'

Sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment on 13 February this year for indecently assaulting three girls. He was aged 77. He was given concurrent sentences of 12 months on each of 13 counts of indecent assault.

At the time of the trial, Prunty pleaded guilty to the 13 sample counts from an original total of 76 charges. The court heard details of how the accused had indecently abused the girls in their homes, in the parish church where he was a highly regarded curate, and in the confession box in the church. The offences were committed in a midlands town between 1956 and 1959.

The case was heard in camera, although Judge Anthony Kennedy gave leave for Prunty to be named in press reports. However, he banned publication of anything likely to identify any of the injured parties.

The judge also refused to allow a solicitor holding a watching brief for Dr Colm O'Reilly, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, and two other persons to remain in court during the hearing.

The court heard that Prunty used to put girls on his knee and would then place his hand under their clothing and fondle them. He would then give them presents and sweets.

One of the injured parties, speaking on behalf of all three, said the abuse began when she was 10 years.

She described how, while attending children's confession in her parish church, the priest would remove the grille and put his hand through the opening to tickle her, and then under her clothing.

As a result she was terrified to go to confession. She said the experience had ruined her life, and would continue to do so.

Prunty told the court that he has a brother and two sisters in religion. He expressed sincere sorrow for his actions and said he was deeply ashamed that he had hurt young people who trusted him, adding: "I have betrayed my vocation and my church." After hearing three character witnesses on behalf of the accused and an appeal for leniency by defence counsel Patrick Gageby, Judge Kennedy said that an aggravating factor in the case was that some of the offences had been committed in a church, and even within a confession box.

The victims had also been abused in their own homes, where the accused was a welcome visitor, he said.

Referring to the clerical power in the 1950s, Judge Kennedy said that in the eyes of these young children the priest was God, and it would have been impossible for them to talk about his conduct, never mind complain about it.

He said the sentence imposed had to be of a custodial nature, and taking all factors into consideration, he sentenced Prunty to 12 months' imprisonment on each count, the sentences to be served concurrently.

Fr Tony Walsh: 'grave offences'

Jailed on 2 December 1997 for a total of 10 years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for indecently assaulting six boys in the 1980s. He was aged 43. The former priest, who was an impersonator in Fr Michael Cleary's All Priests Show, committed five of the offences in the presbytery of the Church of the Assumption in Ballyfermot, Dublin, where he was a popular curate during the 1980s. On 31 July 1998, the sentence was reduced to six years by the Court of Criminal Appeal.

Walsh pleaded guilty to 12 charges of indecently assaulting the boys between 1980 and 1986. The charges related to offences of touching.

Judge Kieran O'Connor told Walsh: "You ingratiated yourself with the families of the victims and abused the boys. The offences are so grave I am satisfied the sentence you should serve is one of 10 years." Judge O'Connor said he was aware the charge of indecent assault, which carried a maximum penalty of 10 years, had been replaced with a charge of sexual assault, with a maximum of five years.

"This has come up before. Despite all the pronouncements of all the politicians, they have reduced the maximum sentence to five years. This is something I don't understand, " he said.

He imposed a six-year sentence on the first charge and a consecutive term of four years on the second offence. Terms of six years, to run concurrently with the first term, were imposed on the other charges.

The court was told that Walsh befriended the victims' families while a curate in Ballyfermot in the 1980s. He had convinced himself he was not harming the boys, who were aged from eight to 14, because he believed they would not understand what he had done to them.

Walsh had been very popular but was now very isolated. He had been removed from the priesthood and he found this a "shattering experience", a psychologist who was his counsellor told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

He sought help for his problem in 1990 and now understood the seriousness and implications of the abuse. He had learned to control his urges, the witness added.

Prosecuting counsel Mary Ellen Ring said the injured parties felt the effect of the abuse could not be fully explained in the written impact reports submitted to the court.

Two sets of brothers were among the victims, she said, five of the offences took place in the presbytery of the church in Ballyfermot, three occurred in the family home of one victim and one in another victim's home.

A further two offences took place in a church residence in Westland Row and another in Kerry, w hen the victim was on a holiday organised by his local church.

The court heard that Walsh began abusing the boys after becoming aroused when a boy sat on his lap.

The victims had come forward individually by 1995 and each time the allegations were put to him, Walsh had returned days later with a prepared statement. While he denied some offences, he admitted other acts had taken place.

Two psychologists said they did not think prison would be suitable for Walsh. In this artificial environment his problem would be hidden and he would have to learn to cope all over again on his release, they said.

A year later, delivering the Court of Criminal Appeal's judgment which reduced Walsh's sentence to six years, Mr Justice O'Flaherty said the charges were not in the worst category of offence.

While it was conceded that Walsh had to receive an exemplary sentence and young people must be protected, the court would reduce the sentence in view of his good character and the fact that he had pleaded guilty.

Fr Ivan Payne: preyed on sick children

Sentenced to six years in prison in June 1998 after pleading guilty to several counts of indecent assault. He was aged 54. Initially the final four years were suspended on condition that he enter into a rehabilitative process with the Granada Institute in Dublin, which had offered him treatment. However, on 28 July 1999, his two-year jail term was increased to six years by the Court of Criminal Appeal after the Director of Public Prosecutions submitted the original term was unduly lenient.

Payne, who was formerly involved in counselling couples seeking church annulments of their marriages, had pleaded guilty to a total of 13 sample charges of indecently assaulting nine boys on dates from 1968 to 1987.

The offences were committed on patients in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, while he was chaplain there, and on altar boys in locations in Glasnevin and Sutton.

The victims were aged between 11 and 14 at the time.

During the original trial, Det Sgt Bernard Sherry told prosecuting counsel, Tom O'Connell, that the offending generally involved Payne handling the victim's genitals as well as mutual masturbation in the case of one victim.

Sherry described how Payne would put his arm around the victims and then move his hand down their waistband or under hospital bedclothes to their genitals.

Payne was regarded as a charismatic person and highly thought of in the communities in which he worked. He was accepted by several of the victims' families. His victims were generally shy and vulnerable and many of them came from very religious homes. This inhibited them from complaining.

In the course of the trial, Ivan Payne apologised to his victims under oath from the witness box. In his address to the court, Payne said he wanted to acknowledge he had hurt many people by his behaviour, including his victims, their family and friends, as well as his own family and friends.

"I am sorry for the hurt I have caused them all. I want them to know I deeply regret the hurt I caused them, " he said.

Fr Donal Dunne: 'mad and bad'
'I have waited since 1947 for this day'

Sentenced to two years in prison on 10 February, 1999 for sex offences going back many years in midlands schools.

He was close to his 79th birthday when sentenced.

A man's 50-year wait for justice ended that day on the cold granite courthouse steps in Tullamore, Co Offaly. Inside, a retired schoolteacher, Donal Dunne, had just been sentenced to two years in prison on sex-abuse charges.

As he was being led in handcuffs to prison, a former pupil of the retired teacher turned to reporters and said: "I have waited since 1947 for this day." The court had heard Dunne felt little remorse for crimes carried out in the 1950s and '60s against boys in schools in Dublin, Kilkenny, Offaly and Longford.

During the court proceedings, seven men sat opposite the bespectacled former teacher.

Two of them had sought court permission to observe proceedings. Two sat with their spouses.

They had come following the publicity generated by the hearing the year before when Dunne had pleaded guilty to 17 charges of indecent assault in counties Offaly and Kilkenny in the 1960s and 1970s.

Det Sgt Michael Dalton, the prosecuting garda, said others had come forward since details of the case were first published.

The earliest dealt with abuse in a Dublin school in 1947, and in Longford and in the choir loft of a Longford church between 1957 and 1961.

The victims heard defence counsel William Fennelly outline the medical reports on the defendant, who had been recently diagnosed as suffering from Parkinson's disease.

They fidgeted as Fennelly put forward the mitigating circumstances, saying Dunne had been himself the victim of child sexual abuse.

He had removed himself from the area where he could perpetrate atrocities on boys by teaching in a girls' school and coaching only GAA teams at a senior level.

He was a non-smoker and a nondrinker and Dunne would say he was a good teacher. Dunne, he said, was now thoroughly "disgraced and reviled" but he was seeking to have the sentence suspended because of age and his guilty plea.

But Judge Anthony Kennedy said he had noted the psychiatric reports that Dunne had a long history of paedophilia and had given a very conservative estimate of the number of boys he had molested.

He had taken advantage of the innocence and vulnerability of young boys for his own perverse sexual excitement.

It was of very grave concern that he had been involved in the same activity which led to a conviction when he was aged 75.

The psychological reports indicated that he showed little signs of remorse and suggested a high risk of re-offending.

Dunne heard the judge say it seemed to him he had little alternative but to plead guilty.

When he delivered sentence and refused leave to appeal, the victims shook hands.

The two women embraced their partners and then one another. They all filed out of the court.

One of the men, who came from Dublin, stood on the court steps to see Dunne being led away.

Only he would speak openly to reporters and he told of the things which had been done to him by Dunne, a former Christian Brother.

"At last, at last, " he said. "I have been trying to track him down all my adult life." "When I was going to school we were all afraid of him. He was both bad and mad and he used to beat the shit out of me. He kicked me in the stomach, " he said.

"He was sexually molesting me one day and I hit him. He beat the pulp out of me and when I went home with a black eye my father said I probably deserved it, " he said.

"I was so afraid of him that I used to walk about in my bare feet so I would get a cold and would not have to go to school. He destroyed my life. But this is a good day for me, " he said.






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