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The Murphy Report James Horan/Photocall Ireland
child sexual abuse

New Murphy Report information details abuse by Fr Patrick McCabe

Previously redacted information has now been made public, and details allegations of abuse made against the priest.

REDACTED MATERIAL FROM the Murphy Report gives an insight into the complaints of sexual abuse made against Fr Patrick McCabe.

The Report of The Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin (Murphy Report), which looks at the handling of child sexual abuse claims in the diocese of Cloyne, was first published in 2009. However, due to legal reasons, certain information was redacted.

Some of the material has been released today, and the latest information concerns Fr Patrick McCabe. The report details allegations of child sexual abuse made against Fr McCabe, the investigations that took place into some of the allegations, and McCabe’s move to the USA.

The commission said in the report that “this case encapsulates everything that was wrong with the archdiocesan handling of child sexual abuse cases”.


The redacted information comes from Chapter 20 of the report. It shows that the first formal complaint of child sexual abuse made against Fr McCabe was to the Archdiocese of Dublin in January 1977.

It was made by a 14-year-old boy who was at boarding school and who said that he was sexually assaulted in the priest’s car on the school grounds.

Fr McCabe was a curate in the Pro-Cathedral at the time of this complaint. During his time there, he was in charge of the altar boys.

New information states that the boy who made the first complaint had been invited to sit in the priest’s car for a chat. He was there for about an hour and arrived late into study hall in a distressed condition. He told his dean that he had been sexually assaulted by the priest, and later that evening he was questioned about the matter by his headmaster.

In 1987, said the report, the boy complained that during the course of that interview he was sexually interfered with by the headmaster, who has since been convicted for multiple sexual assaults on boys.

The complaint against Fr McCabe was reported to the Archdiocese by the school, and during the preliminary inquiry the headmaster was interviewed. He assured the mother of the boy that the matter was being taken care of.

The boy and the priest were interviewed by Canon Ardle McMahon and both gave conflicting reports of what occurred.

Canon MacMahon recommended after speaking to the boy that “there is substantial evidence of a well founded complaint that Fr McCabe misbehaved in his relationship with [the boy]“.

After speaking to Fr McCabe, he evaluated that “the evidence of [the boy] seems to be closer to the truth”.

Canon MacMahon wrote to Archbishop Dermot Ryan, telling him “our friend” received the findings of the investigation “with an expression of regret for any embarrassment caused”. Nothing further was done in the case. No one apart from McMahon and Archbishop Ryan knew or was told of the incident so there was no possibility of monitoring Fr McCabe’s behaviour.


The report also details complaints made by other people in subsequent years. Regarding a complaint in 1978, Canon MacMahon was sent to inquire and reported to Archbishop Ryan that the the allegations “follow a pattern”. He also said it was probable that Fr McCabe needed psychiatric treatment.

MacMahon met with Fr McCabe on the complaints and Fr McCabe “expressed sorrow for his lapses”. No inquiries were made to find out whether the incidents were isolated events.

Fr McCabe’s “regular opening gambit” was described as “asking the boy ‘What do ships do when they pull into harbour? Ties up’” and then flicking his tie up.

In 1979, McCabe was appointed a curate in Artane parish. The redacted information states that the letter of appointment “contains no reference to the events of the previous years”.

However, a memo from Archbishop Ryan in 1981 states that at the time of the appointment, he spoke to Father McCabe and reminded him of the seriousness of his actions and that he ran a risk of imprisonment. The memo said that McCabe said he was repentant and fully appreciated the implications of his actions.


In Artane, the parish priest was not told of Fr McCabe’s history, and he was allowed to live alone and also took charge of the altar boys there. The commission said it was aware of eight boys who complained of sexual abuse by Fr McCabe over the years he was in Artane.

There was evidence that complaints were made to the Archdiocese about Fr McCabe’s behaviour during this time, but no investigations were undertaken, said the report.

A memo prepared by Archbishop Ryan in 1981 indicates that while Fr McCabe was in Artane, other cases were brought to the notice of the Archdiocese and the priest was spoken to and referred to a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

Following a complaint in 1981 from the parents of one boy, Fr McCabe was withdrawn from the parish. In 1982, Fr McCabe was sent to a ‘renewal program’ in New Mexico for priests who had sexually abused.

Following completion of the program, the Archbishop of Santa Fe was given permission for Fr McCabe to pursue a six-month ministry in Alameda Parish.

After an incident in Ireland in December 1982, where McCabe was alleged to have made sexual advances towards a boy aged 16, Fr McCabe was sent back to New Mexico for treatment, the report states.

Fr McCabe was later assigned as a curate to Eureka, Northern California. Stories of “inappropriate conduct” began to emerge.

On a return to Ireland, a complaint of sexual assault was made against Fr McCabe in 1986, which the report details. There was garda involvement in this complaint and a file was sent to the DPP.

Fr McCabe returned to working in America around this time.


A portion of the redacted information contains the young man who made the first formal complaint in 1977, and the fact he went to the Archbishop’s house in 1987 and was met by Monsignor Alex Stenson. The man recounted what occurred during the assault by Fr McCabe and the effect it had had on his life. He believed that Fr McCabe had “messed him up”.

He said he wanted compensation from McCabe and from the Diocese, and that if he did not get satisfaction or compensation he would go public and sell his story to the newspapers.

The young man also approached the current headmaster of his former school. His demand for compensation from Fr McCabe and his former headmaster under threat of media exposure led to a complaint of blackmail being made to the gardaí against the young man and his mother by the headmaster.

This resulted in a garda investigation that involved telephone taps and a file was submitted to the DPP.

The DPP directed there should be no prosecution for blackmail. The gardaí began investigating the young man’s original complaint of sexual assault, but the Murphy Report says the investigation was “not thorough”.

The report stated that in the 2000s new complaints – of sexual assault and anal rape – were made to the gardaí against Fr McCabe, who was based in the USA at that time.

The report also said that “the connivance by the gardaí in effectively stifling one complaint and failing to investigate another, and in allowing Fr McCabe to leave the country is shocking”.

McCabe was extradited to Ireland in June 2011 and pleaded guilty to the indecent assault of James Moran between January and April 1977. He also pleaded guilty to the indecent assault of another boy.

He was given an 18-month jail sentence in March of this year for the crime.

Read the full redacted information here.

Read: Cloyne clerical abuse report to be published this month>

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