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Killaloe Diocese Set Up €1.5m Fund to Aid Victims of Sex Abuse

Irish Times, 20 August 2010 by Dan Danaher

A €1.5 MILLION trust fund was established by the Catholic Diocese of Killaloe to help provide healing for people hurt by clerical sex abuse, outgoing Bishop Willie Walsh has revealed.

The Killaloe diocese sold land at Westbourne, Ennis, to the town council for €1.5 million, which it used to establish the fund in 2002.

Bishop Walsh has also confirmed that payments totalling €65,000 were given to a Co Clare man who has alleged he was sexually abused in the 1980s by three priests who studied together. One of the clerics was working in the Killaloe diocese at the time of the alleged abuse.

Bishop Walsh recalled he paid the man €25,000 from his own personal funds, while another €40,000 came from the diocese.

Bishop Walsh said he gave this man more money than any other survivor of clerical sex abuse in the past, having responded to what he perceived to be a person in genuine need.

The bishop stressed he never suggested the money paid to the man could in some way be regarded as a secret payment or that he was trying to buy his silence, which he would not do.

In an interview with The Irish Times last week, the survivor, who used the pseudonym “John”, said Bishop Walsh “cried and cried” when he heard his story, adding the prelate encouraged John to go to the Garda, which he then did.

Although the proceeds of the land sale were invested and grew over the years, most of the fund has been exhausted following payments to different victims.

“I would hope that my motivation was one of genuine care for this person who had been so hurt by a priest in the Killaloe diocese.

“I don’t have any regrets. I am told by some people I am very naive when it comes to helping some people. I do give away a fair bit of my own money to people in need. I am not a spender and I don’t stay in hotels . . . I borrow from my friends and pay it back later. I don’t want any thanks for that.

“I am never short of money. I make a distinction between diocesan money and my own personal money.”

The bishop said he had done everything he could to try to help John.

He said it was not possible to put a financial figure on compensation, as John’s life had been destroyed by the abuse.