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Bishop Tells of Relief at Abuse Inquiry Outcome

The Irish Times - Wednesday, August 30, 2006 by Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent

The former bishop of Galway, Dr Eamon Casey, at his home in Shanaglish yesterday.

Photograph: Joe O'Shaughnessy


Former bishop of Galway Dr Éamon Casey has spoken of his "utter and absolute relief" on being told that the Director of Public Prosecutions would not be bringing charges against him arising from child sex abuse allegations.

Despite the DPP's decision Bishop Casey (79) will not be restored to full priestly ministry yet as the church must now conduct its own examination of the allegations. This is expected to take a few weeks and, as in other cases where allegations against clergy have not led to charges, it is likely to reach conclusions similar to those of gardaí.

Speaking from his home at Shanaglish, Co Galway, yesterday, he said recent months had been difficult as the Garda inquiry into the allegations continued, not least knowing all along he was innocent. "But I knew it had to take its course. I never allowed it interfere with me and if God wanted me to go through with it, I would go through with it."

He was "utterly amazed" when he received a call on Monday morning telling him there would be no charges, as it had been just three weeks since he was questioned by gardaí in connection with the allegations. "I thought it would take another five or six months at least." Gardaí had questioned him for six hours on foot of 13 allegations made by the now middle-aged woman.

The abuse allegations were made at the end of November last year by the woman, now living in the UK. They concerned incidents she claimed took place in Ireland over three decades ago. The woman, who is believed to have known Dr Casey most of her life, made similar unproven allegations against others in the past and is understood to have suffered ill-health in recent years.

The child protection office in the southern English Catholic diocese of Arundel and Brighton, where Dr Casey served, was contacted and immediately he had to stand aside from public ministry.

Last November 27th, Mass-goers at his parish church of Our Lady of Fatima, in Staplefield, west Sussex, were told of the allegations and his standing aside from ministry. They were also told he had moved to other premises, pending a return to Ireland to deal with the allegations.

In Dublin last December, the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr Willie Walsh, said the allegations against Dr Casey seemed to be without reasonable foundation, and that expecting him to stand down on the basis of such allegations was contrary to natural justice.

Bishop Casey returned to Ireland permanently on February 9th this year, when he took up residence at his new home in Co Galway.