New allegations of sex abuse made against former priest

By Liam Reid
Irish Times
August 12, 2003

Gardaí are investigating allegations of abuse made by a further eight people against former priest Tony Walsh.

The Garda investigation, which has been under way for nearly a year, has taken statements from the eight men who have said they were abused as children by Walsh and is nearing completion.

The allegations relate to a period stretching from 1978 to the early 1990s and to a number of parishes where the priest served, including Ballyfermot and Coolock.

Walsh first served as a deacon in Coolock, before moving to Ballyfermot where he worked as a curate. He also worked in Dublin city centre before he was removed from the priesthood in the early 1990s and subsequently defrocked by a church tribunal.

He achieved a moderate level of fame during the early 1980s as an Elvis impersonator with the All-Priests Show.

In late 1997, Walsh was convicted of sexually abusing six boys aged between eight and 14 in Ballyfermot between 1980 and 1986. A 10-year sentence was reduced to six by the Court of Criminal Appeal. In 1995 he received a 12-month jail sentence for molesting a 12-year-old boy in a pub following a funeral.

In the early 1990s he was sent to the Gracewell clinic in England to be treated for his abusive behaviour.

The new allegations against Walsh were made following last October's Prime Time documentary, Cardinal Secrets, which examined the handling of abuse allegations by the archdiocese of Dublin and Cardinal Desmond Connell. The archdiocese came in for severe criticism over its handling of sexual abuse complaints, and the treatment of victims, including victims of Walsh.

In a subsequent statement, the archdiocese said it had informed the Garda in 1992 that Walsh had been removed from ministry.

The Garda investigation into Walsh is one of at least five arising out of information and complaints in the wake of the Prime Time documentary.

The handling of child-abuse allegations in the archdiocese is also expected to be the subject of the new form of independent inquiry being planned by the State.

In late 2002, Cardinal Connell also agreed to open up to the Garda files relating to abuse allegations held by the archdiocese. The review of files is ongoing.




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