Abusive priests moved from parish to parish as complaints ignored

By Patsy McGarry
Irish Times
November 9, 2005

Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent, highlights some of the high profile abuse cases in the Dublin archdiocese

Fr Paul McGennis

In 1996 Fr Paul McGennis pleaded guilty to two counts of sexually assaulting two girls at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in 1960 where he was chaplain. In 1997 he pleaded guilty to two counts of sexually assaulting a nine-year-old girl in Co Wicklow between 1977 and 1979. He served as a priest until 1997, when he was in Dublin's Edenmore parish.

More directly where Fr McGennis was concerned, there was the archdiocese's handling of Marie Collins's complaints in 1995 that she had been abused by McGennis in 1960. In particular, the archdiocese refused to confirm to gardaí the priest's admission to the assaults.

At a meeting in 1996, the then Archbishop Desmond Connell told Ms Collins they wouldn't co-operate with gardaí in the investigation, despite the Irish bishops' own strict guidelines for reporting complaints of clerical child sex abuse to the civil authorities, issued earlier that year. He said they were only guidelines.

Fr Ivan Payne

Fr Ivan Payne (now laicised) had been a chaplain at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children. He was sent for psychiatric treatment in 1981 after abusing Andrew Madden at Cabra in Dublin. Payne was appointed to Sutton parish in 1982 and seen by a psychiatrist again in 1991 and 1994, remaining a serving priest until 1995, even though in 1993 he had paid Andrew Madden compensation of £30,000.

He was allowed continue in active ministry until 1995, seven years into Archbishop Connell's period of office. He also served on the archdiocese's Regional Catholic Marriage Tribunal, which dealt with marriage annulments. In 1998 he was convicted on 13 sample charges of sexual assault against nine boys and served 4½years in jail.

In May 1995 Archbishop Connell told RTÉ he had paid out no money in compensation to any victims of clerical child sex abuse. But the following September it emerged that Payne had secured a £30,000 loan from the archdiocese to pay Andrew Madden. The Archbishop threatened to sue RTÉ for libel. "To say that we paid compensation is completely untrue," he said. He did not sue.

Fr Noel Reynolds

In 1996 Father Noel Reynolds was parish priest of Glendalough. Some parents complained to Archbishop's House that they had serious concerns about his behaviour towards their children but nothing happened. Eighteen months later, parents threatened to go public unless something was done. At the same time in 1995 another priest in Rathnew said he also reported concerns about Father Reynolds.

Archbishop Connell was reported to have immediately moved him, assigning him as chaplain to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire, which was not informed of the allegations that had been made against him.

Fr Reynolds was at the hospital from July 1997 to May 1998. Shortly after he left the hospital he admitted abusing more than 100 children in eight parishes in Dublin. He is now deceased.

Fr Thomas Naughton

Mervyn Rundle was nine years old when he was abused by Fr Thomas Naughton, then serving in the Donnycarney district of Dublin, in a church where Mr Rundle was an altar boy. Fr Naughton was jailed for three years for the offence in 1998.

At his trial, Fr Naughton was said to have sexually abused children throughout the 1980s in three Dublin parishes.

Complaints were regularly made to the diocesan authorities in Dublin, but no action was taken.





Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.