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The Dominican Friars: suspected abuser involved in Church response to abuse until 1995

The NBSCCCI believes that there are other victims of the Dominican friars who have not yet come forward.

THE NATIONAL BOARD of Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church of Ireland (NSBCCCI) found a “real sense of accepting past failures” among the leadership of the Dominican Friars during its review into child protection practices in the Order.

It also said the Order was determined to ensure that the review of past practices identified “unacceptable deficiencies”

“In current cases, there is evidence of genuine attempts at quickly ensuring that risk is notified to the civil authorities and managed, within the order,” the review states. “The current leadership team appear to understand their obligations and are showing a determination to improve practice”

The 31-page document revealed that since 1975, allegations have been made against 27 Dominican friars, 11 of whom are still alive. Four have left the friarhood, while four are in ministry or retired. Three of the accused are “out of ministry” but still members of the order. Of these, one is “old and non compos mentis”.

Just two have been convicted of related offences.

A total of 52 allegations have been reported to the Gardaí and the HSE (or the appropriate Health Boards) since 1975.

During the course of the review, a Dominican friar was notified about a current safeguarding allegation and the matter was “promptly” reported to both the Gardaí and HSE. However, the designated person expressed some concerns about aspects of the receiving friar’s actions “in terms of sharing full information”.

The NBSCCCI said it was subsequently impressed by the determination of the designated person in ensuring the friar followed full reporting procedures.

The board believes that there are other victims of the Dominican friars who have not yet come forward. It has made a recommendation that the current leadership team, which it praised for current practices and policies, should initiate a review of the files of the two able-bodied friars who are out of ministry to ensure that all allegations have been reported and that victims have received support.

The NBSCCCI has also suggested a notice on the Order’s website inviting anybody who has been abused to report it either to the Order or to the civil authorities.

The order’s written policy on keeping children safe was praised but it was noted that there is a “current absence of children from Dominican church life” with few attending services or acting as alter servers.

The Dominican Friars have communities in several areas of Ireland, including Tallaght, Newry, Dundalk, Drogheda, Newbridge, Athy, Kilkenny, Waterford, Ballybeg, Montenotte, Cork, Tralee, Limerick, Galway and Sligo. The Order’s international communities were not included in the current review of safeguarding practices.

The Dominicans: the failings, the measures taken and the recommendations

  • Prior to 201o, there were long delays in reporting abuse allegations to the appropriate authorities. The board also found that it not appear that allegations were reported to the HSE “as a matter of course”.
  • A number of cases were reported to Gardaí in 2009 after the current designated person took up his post and carried out a review of files. Some of those reports stem back to a period before 1996.
  • In some cases prior to 1996, action was taken to remove men from ministry and professional assessments were commissioned to guide the order on the management of risk. However, the cases were not all reported.
  • It appears from records that the risk posed by men who left the Order was never assessed. “The departure of the men from the order, as far as the Dominican’s were concerned, was the end of the matter, when in fact the HSE should have been informed so that they could take responsibility”. Some of these men have since married and have had children. No risk assessments have been filed.
  • The NBSCCI has recommended that a master file with a chronology of events be set up for the three men who are currently “out of ministry”. This should contain all details about complainants, responses, investigations and risk assessments and management plans.
  • There were two cases of prolific abusers where prompt action to remove men from public ministry were not taken. Both held positions of responsibility in local secondary schools and the board has recommended that the Order extend an invitation to others who may have been abused and who have never come forward to do so and they will be provided with help and support. One of the abusers, called Father Y in the report, also participated in national Church initiatives aimed at improving the response made by the Church to allegations of abuse when they emerged. The board said it found this “alarming”, as he occupied these positions until 1995, when he was withdrawn from ministry. Concerns were first raised about him in 1990 relating to a period of time in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Some children who came forward about instances of abuse were not believed during the 1980s. The board said this represents “a major failing” on the part of the Dominicans in charge at the time. A number of survivors have since been offered financial settlements and counselling.

Fr Gregory Carroll, the Provincial of the Order reiterated the Order’s apology to victims who were abused by its members.

“On behalf of the of the Dominicans I apologise unreservedly to the victims who were abused by members of our Order, who lost their childhood innocence, regardless of how long ago the abuse took place,” he said in a statement issued with the publication of the report.

“While we cannot undo the harm that was done, we can learn from the lessons of the past and ensure that our churches, schools, parishes and priories are safe for the young and the vulnerable.”

He welcomed the additional guidance from this review and said the Order has already moved to implement many of its recommendations. Fr Carroll also encouraged anyone who may not have come forward about being abuse to do so.

These tables break down the exact standards recorded by the NBSCCCI group in seven areas during its review

The Dominican Friars: suspected abuser involved in Church response to abuse until 1995
1 / 10
  • Standard 1

  • Standard 2

  • Standard 3

  • Standard 3b

  • Standard 3c

  • Standard 4

  • Standard 5

  • Standard 6

  • Standard 7

  • Number of Allegations

Overview: Child protection reviews reveal 378 abuse allegations about 146 individuals>

Diocese of Limerick: ‘Prompt referral of allegations to the statutory authorities’>

Diocese of Cork and Ross: Delays “in some cases in informing the statutory authorities”>

Diocese of Clonfert: “No written procedures for management of allegations”>

Missionaries of the Sacred Heart: Priests admitted abuse but authorities weren’t told>

More: Findings of child protection reviews published>

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