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Abuse allegations against three active priests in Galway diocese

Bishop Martin Drennan says the Gardaí and HSE had been consulted, and the allegations are not serious enough to warrant removing the priests from active duty.

Bishop Eamon Casey failed to act appropriately when informed of an abuse allegation in his Diocese of Galway, the safeguarding report has found.
Bishop Eamon Casey failed to act appropriately when informed of an abuse allegation in his Diocese of Galway, the safeguarding report has found.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE REVIEW by the Church’s national board for the safeguarding of children has revealed that abuse allegations have been made against three of the 63 priests who are currently on active duty in the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.

The review of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (PDF) is broadly positive of safeguarding procedures in the diocese, in a report which examines its performance under three different bishops since 1975.

While there is some criticism of how complaints had previously been managed in the diocese, the appraisal of procedures since the appointment of Bishop Martin Drennan in 2005.

Bishop Drennan this morning told Galway Bay FM that the allegations against the three active priests had been discussed with the Gardaí and HSE, and it was considered that the allegations were not significant enough to warrant removing them from duty.

The priests are not named in the Safeguarding Board’s report.

Nonetheless, the report calls for a comprehensive review of those complaints and for officials to be appointed as quickly as possible to progress any necessary investigations – though it is complementary about the oversight being exercised in the meantime.

“It is very clear that these men are being monitored and that any risk presented by them is carefully identified. However the Church policies should be adhered to and brought to speedy conclusions as required by canon law,” it says.

“The Safeguarding Co-ordinator should put in place written risk management plans which should be shared with the accused priest; and a record made of all reviews of risk and monitoring visits.”

Insufficient action taken over two complaints

The review says one priest had been convicted of an offence against a child or young person since 1975 – but two other cases where insufficient action was taken to deal with the allegations made.

One was under the tenure of Bishop Eamon Casey, who “does not appear to have been afforded the attention it required during the early 1980s”. Casey resigned in 1992 after it emerged he had fathered a child with an American woman, Annie Murphy.

His successor, Bishop James McLoughlin, was informed of the allegations after taking over in 1992, and removed him from ministry in 1995.

In the other case it was found that McLoughlin, who is now deceased, did not offer an appropriate response to the complainant. In that case, the priest was already out of ministry and was deceased when a subsequent complaint was made against them.

“Historically there have been delays in notifying An Garda Síochána and HSE of allegations in cases during the 1990s and early 2000,” the report says, before adding:

More recently there is very prompt reporting of all cases. While all current allegations are referred to the sexual crimes unit in Harcourt Square in Dublin, Bishop Drennan, the designated and deputy designated persons all state that they have a very open and positive relationship with An Garda Síochána in Galway

It was abundantly clear from discussions with the many lay volunteers encountered during the fieldwork that The Galway Diocesan Policy and Procedures are living documents, which they have all signed up to and which they proactively promote across the diocese and in all Church related activities.

The report also notes that the Diocese was one in which the code of behaviour for adults was “openly displayed in Churches and other church property”, a move it welcomed.

Read: Catholic Church audits show progress in child protection

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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