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Michelle Hennessy/
safeguarding children

Archbishop Martin breaks down while talking about victims of clerical abuse

It was revealed today that five priests in the Dublin Diocese were the subject of complaints in the last 12 months.

THE ARCHDIOCESE OF Dublin has revealed today that there has been an increase in the number of its priests accused of child abuse in the last year.

A meeting to discuss the Archdiocese’s child safeguarding and protection service is taking place in Dublin today as it emerges another five priests from the Diocese have been the subject of child sexual abuse allegations.

Three of the accused were deceased and the other two were retired. This brings the total number of priests accused since 1940 to 106. This includes confirmed, inconclusive and unfounded allegations, the Archdiocese said today.

The number of allegations of abuse have fallen in the past five years, from around 100 per year back in 2010 and 2011 to less than 40 in the last two years.

However there was an increase in the number of priests subject to complaints in the last year.

To date, 12 priests or former priests have been convicted in the criminal courts and 262 civil actions have been taken against 53 priests of former priests of the Diocese.

There are currently 60 ongoing cases, with more than 200 having been concluded.

Breige Caffrey, who was abused at the age of 16, addressed the meeting today and spoke of her anger.


“I was more angry than I thought. I wrote terrible letters to the bishop.”

In recent years she attended the funeral of her abuser, saying it gave her a sense of peace. She availed of services offered by the Diocese to victims of clerical abuse and said her trust has begun to return.

“Survivors are individuals, priests and bishops are individuals – there’s good and bad in all of us,” she said.


At the meeting this morning, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said in the past, Church leaders had “locked themselves into complacency”, stating it took years to put in place action they knew was necessary.

He became emotional at one point during his speech, when talking about victims and particularly campaigner Marie Collins.

When asked about it later, speaking to reporters, the Archbishop broke down, as he said spoke about the difficulty the woman had dealing with Church spokespersons about her own horrific abuse. Now Collins is on the Vatican’s commission on protecting children from abuse and “the tables have turned”, Martin said.

Though he said there have been “remarkable changes” in the Church, he said “there is no room for complacency.”

We need vigilance.

“Survivors are still coming forward which means that for years they have been suffering without feeling able to tell their story and share their grief,” he told the meeting today.

The sexual abuse of a person touches a person in their depths because it’s actually, it’s not just the horrible mechanics, it’s an attack on their dignity on their worth.

The Archdiocese confirmed the costs of settlements regarding child sexual abuse by priests has reached €21.4 million, including legal costs for both sides.

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