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File on Cloyne Priest Resubmitted to DPP

The Irish Times, May 22, 2010 by Barry Roche

GARDAI HAVE resubmitted a file to the DPP after reinterviewing an elderly priest in the diocese of Cloyne.

They took the action on foot of new material which came to light in a review of the diocese’s handling of a complaint alleging that the priest had sexually assaulted a young boy.

Detectives added new material to the file after they reinterviewed the elderly priest, identified as “Fr A” by chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children Ian Elliott when he looked at Cloyne child-protection practices in 2008.

Gardai in north Cork had carried out an initial investigation into Fr A after another priest reported to his superiors in the diocese in December 2004 that he had been abused while a teenager in the early- to mid-1980s by a priest whom he did not name.

The complainant priest later identified his alleged abuser as Fr A in May 2005 and the matter was investigated by then bishop of Cloyne John Magee, who met with Fr A in September 2005. Following this meeting, Fr A resigned from his duties.

In November 2005, Cloyne child-protection delegate Msgr Denis O’Callaghan wrote to gardai in Mallow informing them a complaint had been made against a priest of the diocese by another priest. He did not name Fr A though he did name the complainant priest. Gardai met with the complainant priest in early 2006 and that October they interviewed Fr A. Two months later, they forwarded a file on the matter to the DPP who responded in February 2007 with a direction that there should be no prosecution.

Meanwhile, Mr Elliott began a review of how the diocese of Cloyne had handled complaints of child sexual abuse and, after initially not receiving the full diocesan file on Fr A, was given access to all diocesan material on the complaint in April 2008.

The diocese of Cloyne published Mr Elliott’s report in December 2008 in which he criticised child-protection procedures within the diocese. It prompted a retired schoolteacher in north Cork to make a complaint to gardai about the diocese’s handling of the Fr A case. The retired teacher told gardai that, after reading Mr Elliott’s report, he believed bishop Magee had endangered children by failing to disclose certain information regarding Fr A to gardai when first alerting them to the complaint.

Gardai reopened the investigation and examined documentation made available to Mr Elliott for his review by the diocese of Cloyne and, following discovery of new information in that material, they interviewed Fr A last March about the complaint. Gardai have now resubmitted the amended file with the additional material obtained from the diocese along with notes of the second interview with Fr A and are awaiting a decision on the matter from the DPP.

Gardai also prepared a report on the complaint made by the schoolteacher under the Endangerment of Children Act 2006 regarding bishop Magee’s handling of the Fr A case and have sent it to the DPP for his advice.