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Dublin: 18 °C Friday 31 October, 2014

Government publishes final sections of damning Cloyne report

The Department of Justice publishes the final extracts of the report into the handling of child sexual abuse allegations in Cloyne.

Alan Shatter and Frances Fitzgerald have welcomed the publication of the final sections of the Cloyne Report.
Alan Shatter and Frances Fitzgerald have welcomed the publication of the final sections of the Cloyne Report.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT has this evening published the final passages of the official report into the handling of clerical abuse allegations in the Roman Catholic diocese of Cloyne.

The final chapters of the report were cleared for publication by the High Court last week, which had previously withheld extracts due to the possibility of criminal proceedings being brought in some instances.

The previously unpublished passage outline how Fr Ronat – who retired in late 2005 and is out of ministry – was alleged to have abused a series of children between between 1989 and 2009, but in some cases reports of his behaviour were not forwarded to Gardaí for years afterward.

11 different complaints were made against Fr Ronat, some of them alleging that he had used hypnosis on them. The priest, who worked as a career guidance teacher, claimed only to have used the technique to treat some people for alcohol and tobacco addiction.

Although restrictions were placed on Fr Ronat’s duties in the wake of some of the complaints, he continued to officiate at Confirmation ceremonies in the early part of the last decade.

He was eventually removed from ministry by then-bishop John Magee in 2005, but was not asked to stop wearing clerical dress in 2008. Even still, the priest continued to celebrate Masses in private homes where young people were present, disregarding restrictions placed on him.

Prosecutions

The report criticises Bishop Magee and the Diocesan investigator Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan, but also criticises three other priests who appeared to have ignored complaints brought to them. Ultimately, no criminal prosecutions were brought against Fr Ronat.

Justice minister Alan Shatter said the publication of the final portions – which largely relate to allegations concerning a priest known only as ‘Fr Ronat’ – “yet again details the failure of the Church to comply with its own guidelines”.

“The litany of allegations made and the failure to appropriately report cases of abuse reinforces the need to enact a statutory measure for the protection of children in the future,” Shatter said.

He added that the government was still working on legislation making it a criminal offence to withhold information relating to crimes perpetrated against children.

Children’s minister Frances Fitzgerald said she recognised that the publication of the final extracts would serve “as a painful reminder for those involved”.

Despite repeated attempts to have their voice heard, they could not ensure that the serious allegations they made against a Cloyne cleric were dealt with appropriately. Time and time again they were disappointed and hurt once more.

These families did not ask for this burden, it was placed on them by the irresponsibility of the church authorities in Cloyne.

Fitzgerald urged those affected by the publication to call the HSE’s freephone National Counselling Service. The helpline can be contacted at 1800 234 116.

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s chief executive Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop criticised the timing of the publication, however, saying the victims of sexual abuse did not need to be reminded of their past in Christmas wek.

“To have this report published Christmas week is insensitive to put it at its mildest. Victims calling the National 24 hour helpline are angry and upset at the timing of this publication, as Christmas is an emotive time for them anyway,” she said.

“However, we hope that the publication of Chapter 9 in full, will give those survivors of clerical sexual abuse validation, and that they know that their stories are truly believed, and that the cover up that was endemic in the Cloyne diocese has now been exposed in its entirety.”

Publication of complete Cloyne Report expected Monday

State to pay €50 million in legal fees for religious orders

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