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Gardai Didn’t Disclose Cloyne Abuse Complaint for Two Years

Sunday Business Post, January 11, 2009 - By John Burke, and Kieron Wood

Gardaí failed to inform childcare authorities about a complaint of sexual abuse in the diocese of Cloyne for more than two years, it has emerged.

New documents released with an audit of the management of abuse complaints in the diocese reveal that Bishop John Magee informed a senior Garda about the complaint in December 2005. However, when the victim asked the Health Service Executive (HSE) about the status of the case in August 2007,the HSE said it had never been informed about the matter.

Gardaí held more than a dozen meetings with the bishop, the victim and representatives of the self-confessed abuser between December 6, 2005 and March 2007, but never contacted the HSE’s childcare and protection team.

Maeve Lewis, the director of victims’ advocacy group One In Four, said that the revelation highlighted a ‘‘major disconnection’’ between gardaí and the HSE in handling abuse complaints, contrary to key recommendations of the 2005 Ferns report.

Sources close to Magee said that the bishop was firmly of the belief, at all times, that the diocese was complying with the guidelines.

A Garda spokesman said that, as the matter has been referred to an independent inquiry, the force would not be commenting.

Meanwhile, Catholic religious orders have joined bishops in refusing to inform the HSE about specific clerical abuse allegations which were sought as part of a major child protection audit.

The refusal has led to the HSE dropping the section in its audit in which orders were asked to detail the numbers of members under investigation for alleged sex abuse.

According to the 2008 Irish Catholic Directory, the country’s religious orders represent about 5,900 priests and brothers. Lewis said the omission of the section dealing with specific details of abuse cases was ‘‘deeply disappointing’’ and made the audit of religious orders ‘‘pointless’’.

The Office of the Minister for Children, Barry Andrews, confirmed that the section dealing with alleged abuse against religious orders had been dropped from the investigation. The audit will be finalised by the HSE and given to Andrews within weeks, a spokesman said.