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Over 100 Dublin Priests Accused of Abuse

by John Cooney, Irish Independent, March 8, 2006

MORE than 100 Catholic priests in the Dublin diocese have been accused or suspected of raping or sexually abusing 390 child victims since 1940.

To date the country's biggest diocese has paid out €5.8m in settlements and fees to lawyers in sexual assault cases against children.

One hundred and five civil cases have been brought against 32 clerics, with settlements being reached in 65 of these cases, resulting in payouts of €4.1m, plus a further €1.7m in legal costs to both sides.

Just one in five victims or alleged victims have received financial compensation.

Some cases have proved to be unfounded, while others have turned out to be among the worst crimes against children.

As reported exclusively last month in the Irish Independent, these figures include new allegations and information which have been brought to the attention of the diocese as a result of the internal review, the publication of the Ferns Report and ongoing work by the diocese's Child Protection Service.

The shocking figures - far bigger than feared but still amounting to the tip of an iceberg of unreported cases - were released yesterday by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

The files are to be inspected by the forthcoming government-appointed Commission of Investigation under Circuit Court judge Yvonne Murphy.

This investigation has been delayed for four months because of internal government differences over its budget.

Before being given a date for the opening of the State investigation, Dr Martin last night published the latest figures, which he had ordered to be compiled by independent assessors.

Over the past two years this team trawled through the personnel files of 5,600 clerics.

No names were issued by the archdiocese but they include eight convicted paedophile priests, including Ivan Payne, Tony Walsh, Paul McGennis and Thomas Naughton,

Since last October, when Dr Martin issued a preliminary report, €300,000 has been paid out in fresh settlements and a parish priest in west Dublin has stepped down pending investigation of a complaint against him.

The diocese calculates that allegations have been made against 68 diocesan priests, and suspicions have been raised regarding seven diocesan priests.

Allegations have been made against 23 religious priests or priests from other dioceses who held an appointment in the diocese, while suspicions have been raised concerning four religious or priests from other dioceses.

Since 2003 the diocese has invested €2.5m in its child protection and related services. The diocese says about 350 victims have been identified and there are indications of a possible further 40 people who may have been abused.

At recent meetings with priests, Dr Martin said the figures were constantly being updated.

Last night Archbishop Martin renewed his invitation to anyone who might have been abused by a priest ministering in Dublin Diocese to come forward.