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Cloyne Sex Abuse Inquiry Hampered by Breakdown in Communications

Sunday Business Post, 2 January 2011,  by John Burke Public Affairs Correspondent

The inquiry into the handling of clerical child sex abuse in the Cork diocese of Cloyne has shown a lack of cohesion between state authorities in handling abuse complaints, The Sunday Business Post understands.

Among the issues examined by the Commission of Inquiry - headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy - was the level of contact between gardaí and the health services immediately after claims of abuse had been made by alleged victims of abuse.

Previously published documentation, including an audit of the management of abuse complaints in the diocese, found that the Gardaí had failed to inform childcare authorities about at least one complaint of sexual abuse for more than two years after they had been told about the alleged incident.

This instance is understood to feature prominently in the report of the commission, which was submitted to Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern last month.

The report is not expected to be published until March at the earliest.

The report will now be submitted to the Attorney General Paul Gallagher, who will decide what parts may be published.

It will also be sent to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, James Hamilton, to ensure that none of the persons named in the report is currently facing trial and could have the case against them prejudiced by publication.

The report will also be sent to the incoming Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan.

The documents revealed that the Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, informed a senior Garda in December 2005 about a complaint which came to his attention.

However, when the alleged victim asked the Health Service Executive about the status of the case in August 2007, the HSE claimed it had never been informed about the matter, either by the gardaí or by Church authorities.

After the bishop passed the details of the complaint onto a senior garda, members of the force held more than a dozen meetings with the bishop, the victim and representatives of the self-confessed abuser. However, at no stage did they contact the HSE’s childcare and protection team, according to the HSE.

Bishop Magee said he believed at the time that the diocese was complying with the guidelines and that it was the responsibility of the state agencies to interact among themselves.