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Child Abuse

Irish mothers and wives carry blame too – Catholic priest

A priest from the Ferns Diocese in Wexford claims that mothers and wives matched the failure of the bishops in regard to the cover up of child sexual abuse.

Updated 10.11am

A CATHOLIC PRIEST has come under criticism for his comments that Irish mothers and wives also “failed miserably” to deal with the abuse of their children.

In an opinion piece in The Irish Catholic newspaper, Fr Paddy Banville of the Ferns Diocese in Wexford claimed that mothers and wives matched the failure of the bishops in regard to the cover up of child sexual abuse.

“There is another category of people that will match the failure of the bishops, and probably surpass it; the wives and mothers of Ireland, not exclusively wives and mothers but far too many who failed miserably to deal with the abuse of their children by other family members,” he writes.

He added that there is nothing “particulary unique” in the Catholic bishops’ “bungling attempts to deal with clerical abuse”.

I believe that covering up is a typical response to child abuse right across the board, at least until very recently.”

Fr Banville said he is aware his point is “politically incorrect” but he strongly believes that a significant percentage of the population are implicated in a cover-up.

Chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop criticised the priest for his comments, stating they were not just politically incorrect but also ill-judged and inaccurate.

“It is sad to see such comments being made so soon after the publication of the Cloyne Report and the interactions between the Vatican and the Irish State. We are trying to a heal a terrible abuse in Ireland by the clerics and the timing of this man’s article is extremely ill-judged,” she told

She added that his comments were also inaccurate and more-than-likely based on old research that needs updating.

“About 10 years ago, the Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI) survey found that only 3 per cent of abuse in Ireland was clerical. However, since then we have had numerous reports, such as the Ryan and Murphy reports, which have allowed victims to speak out,” she explained.

“We need comprehensive new research now that people are not as afraid to say they were abused by priests. Previously, people did not think they would be believed.

There would be a much higher percent of clerical abuse revealed if an updated SAVI report was undertaken, believes O’Malley-Dunlop.

She also told that the Rape Crisis Centre had come across numerous cases where mothers of abuse victims had called the support line to speak about their trauma. Many had also confronted bishops and priests but were told that there was no truth to their child’s allegations.

In his article, Fr Banville concluded that it was time for the Taoiseach to “go all the way and all the way is much further than the Vatican”.

We don’t know it yet, or perhaps we don’t want to know it, but in terms of child abuse the Catholic Church is holding up a mirror to Irish society.

The Rape Crisis Centre’s 24-hour helpline for victims of rape and sexual abuse can be contacted on 1 800 77 88 88.

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