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Diocese of Kerry dealt with 67 allegations of abuse about 21 priests

The NBSCCCI has apologised to one priest for categorising an allegation of abuse as one of a sexual nature but turned out to be false.

Image: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE DIOCESE OF Kerry has dealt with 67 allegations of abuse about 21 priests since 1975, the review by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCCI) reveals.

All 67 have now been reported to the gardaí and the HSE. There has been just one conviction.

Of the 21 priests accused of sexual offences, eight are still alive and one is still in ministry. Another is out of ministry but still a member of the diocese, while another is retired. Five have left the priesthood – four were laicised and one was dismissed through an application to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.

The NBSCCCI said the priest who is still in ministry was investigated and all safeguarding issues addressed.

The body apologised to one priest who was falsely accused of sexual abuse. It noted:

The NBSCCCI received notification of a complaint against this priest and misunderstood the complaint to relate to sexual abuse when the complaint which was subsequently determined to be unfounded, had related to psychological abuse only.
The NBSCCCI acknowledges that this priest was entirely innocent of any such accusations and he was caus ed to suffer further unnecessary stress and anxiety as a result of this misunderstanding. His good name and character were eventually restored when the person who made the allegations made a public admission in the High Court that the allegations were fabricated and without foundation.

The board said that there was one case which caused it concern involving a priest who requested dismissal from the clerical state. He then moved to another part of the country where he took up a job in which he would have contact with children.

Four complaints have since been made against the man about alleged sexual abuse of children who were in care in a children’s home in county Kerry in the 1970s.

The board expects more allegations to be made against another priest who has passed away. At the time of the review, there were 25 allegations against the accused who had access to all Catholic primary schools because of his role as Diocesan Inspector. His abuse was perpetrated in the 1950s and 1960s.

A third case mentioned in the review highlighted an absence of communication between bishops in Ireland and overseas.

The priest moved to the Kerry area but insufficient information was provided by an overseas diocesan bishop about the reasons for his not ministering. Records indicate he abused a large number of boys in primary school in the parish where he was working.

“As a result of a lack of clear communication, he was allowed by a previous Bishop of Kerry to provide cover for parishes where priests were on holidays,” the reviewers found. The issue was rectified by the current Bishop of Kerry who refused permissions to the priest

Reviewers found that “in general” cases of clerical child sexual abuse in Kerry have been “appropriately managed” with improved practices evident since 1996.

Communicating a message

The review found a “genuine commitment” from the diocese in wanting victims to come forward to receive support and help. Local and online media have been used to communicate an invitation to the review process and a real concern for victims was demonstrated.

However, some work on victim outreach is still required and a review of a certain case involving two priests was recommended.

The board made eight recommendations for the new Bishop of Kerry.


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Read: Safeguarding board has “no remit” to deal with abuse by Irish priests abroad

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