29 Jan 2011

Previously censored chapter of Murphy report showing shocking abuse and cover-up by Irish clergy to be published next week

The Independent - Ireland December 16, 2010

Court lifts the lid on priest's sexual abuse

By John Cooney Religion Correspondent

HORRIFIC details of how jailed paedophile ex-cleric Tony Walsh was allowed to abuse young boys for years will be published next week by the Government.

Publication of the previously censored Chapter 19 of the Murphy report will show how Walsh, while appealing to the Vatican against his defrocking, sexually assaulted the 11-year-old grandson of a man whose funeral he attended dressed as a priest.

Last night, victims' support groups warned Walsh's vile sexual abuse of children will further damage church authorities and expose their failures.

Yesterday, a High Court order lifted the ban on a shocking section which for the first time will reveal details of a secret canonical trial convened in 1992 by then Archbishop Desmond Connell. It will show how a judgment by a church tribunal for Walsh's laicisation was thwarted for at least three years by the Vatican.

This will put the spotlight on two of the three canon lawyers who became bishops -- the retired Bishop of Killaloe, Willie Walsh, and the Bishop of Dromore, John McAreavey.

None of the three reported Walsh to the gardai. Bishop McAreavey will only comment once the section is published.


Previously, Bishop Willie Walsh said he understood at the time that the archdiocese had told gardai about the tribunal findings, but it had not.

In 1994, Tony Walsh stalled by appealing to Rome against his laicisation, and it was then that he raped the boy at his grandfather's funeral. The boy's parents contacted gardai and this led to Walsh being sentenced to a year in jail in 1995.

By then Rome had ruled that Walsh would remain a priest but spend time in a monastery. After the conviction, Archbishop Connell flew to Rome and secured Walsh's defrocking.

Maeve Lewis, of the One in Four victims' group, welcomed publication of the evidence presented to the commission that "will highlight even more how the archdiocese failed to protect children".

The way for publication of the chapter was paved with the conviction and jailing of Walsh last week for 16 years, with four suspended, on 17 counts of sexual abuse against three boys.

This article was found at:



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  1. Report highlights failure of diocese

    by PATSY McGARRY, The Irish Times December 20, 2011

    WITHHELD CHAPTER: THE FAILURE of the Catholic diocese of Cloyne to deal properly with allegations of child sexual abuse up to 2008 has been highlighted in previously redacted elements of the Cloyne report, published yesterday.

    It said the failure rested mainly with former bishop of Cloyne John Magee, who resigned in March last year, and Msgr Denis O’Callaghan, the delegate for the diocese with responsibility for child protection.

    “However, at least three priests of the diocese appear to have ignored complaints,” the report said.

    The report investigated how clerical child sex abuse allegations were handled in Cloyne diocese between January 1st, 1996 and February 1st, 2009. It followed findings by the Catholic Church’s own child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children, that child protection practices in Cloyne were “inadequate, and in some respects dangerous”.

    In January 2009 the then government decided to extend the remit of the Murphy Commission, then investigating the Dublin archdiocese, to include Cloyne.

    Its subsequent Cloyne report, published on July 13th, examined how abuse allegations against 19 priests there were handled between 1996 and 2009.

    As court proceedings were then pending against “Fr Ronat”, the pseudonym for the priest who is the subject of Chapter 9 of the Cloyne report, the High Court decided that elements of that chapter should not be published until those proceedings concluded, which they have.

    Last Friday the High Court ordered that the redacted elements be published.

    Chapter 9, the longest in the Cloyne report at 42 pages, detailed how a total of 13 complainants reported abuse allegations against Fr Ronat

    It said that: “It seems that Fr Ronat practised hypnosis as a means of dealing with the problems of people who came to him in his capacity as a guidance counsellor. A number of complainants told the commission that they were asked about hypnosis when they were making a complaint.

    “Bishop Magee denies any knowledge of Fr Ronat practising hypnosis. Fr Ronat told the commission that he did use hypnosis but only as a hobby. He said that he did not use it with people who had emotional problems but only for treatment of addictions such as tobacco and alcohol. He said he practised hypnosis from 1981 to about 1988/89.”

    In February 2009 “Keita” (a pseudonym) came forward to the diocese and gardaí alleging she had been abused by Fr Ronat in 1973 at the age of 15 and suggested hypnosis was involved.

    The commission concluded that: “This case clearly illustrates the failure by the Diocese of Cloyne to deal properly with allegations of child sexual abuse up to the year 2008.

    “Not only were the procedures, voluntarily agreed by the diocese, not followed but two of the complaints – those of ‘Ailis’ in 1995 and ‘Bretta’ in relation to ‘Matthew’ in 1996, were not classified as child sexual abuse.”

    It said “complaints were not reported to the gardaí when they should have been. They were not reported to the health board/HSE by the diocese until 2008.”

    It found that there were no proper church investigations of the complaints and the commission did “not accept that there was any real restriction on ministry.”

    It also found a statement made to gardaí by “Matthew” in March 2003 “seems to have been put in a drawer and forgotten about until raised by this investigation”.


  2. Victims speak of anger at church response

    by BARRY ROCHE, The Irish Times December 20, 2011

    REACTION: SOME OF the 11 complainants who allege they were sexually assaulted as teenagers by “Fr Ronat” last night spoke of their anger at the handling of their complaints by Bishop John Magee and the Diocese of Cloyne.

    One woman, “Donnelle”, who made a complaint in 2005 that she was sexually assaulted by Fr Ronat between the ages of 15 and 20, said what had shocked her most was the attitude of the church authorities in seeking to downplay Fr Ronat’s abuse.

    “Every time somebody came forward with a complaint to either Bishop Magee or Msgr Denis O’Callaghan, they never told them that there had been other complaints about Fr Ronat – they knew there were other complaints and yet they never told any of us,” she said.

    “I’m so angry about it, but if it happened today, I would approach it so differently – I was so respectful of Magee and O’Callaghan because they were clergy that I accepted everything they said, but now, if it were to happen again, I just would not accept what they say,” she said.

    The first complainant examined in the chapter is given the pseudonym “Ailis”. She died in 2006. Her father spoke of his anger reading the report last night and how the church in Cloyne handled his daughter’s complaint.

    “To be honest, I’m upset reading it – all this talk about my daughter being 17 when Fr Ronat abused her – he started abusing her when she was 14-15, and then to learn that a priest tried to pass it off that my daughter was some sort of Ophelia seducing him – it’s so hurtful.

    “The report gets it spot on when it says that the church authorities in Cloyne spent more energy on establishing that it was not child sexual abuse than on dealing with the fact that it had priests who, at minimum, engaged in exploitative behaviour. It demonstrates well the entire mindset of the clergy here – not one priest contacted us after we made a complaint, and we would have been very pro-church, but now I’m struggling to hang on to my faith given the way we’ve been treated,” he said.

    Another woman, “Fenella”, said she felt the commission report had understated abuse she suffered at the hands of Fr Ronat when it described her complaint against him as “one of serious sexual assault”.

    “That man anally raped me, and no one can imagine how degrading that is and there is no point in shying away from it – describing it as ‘a serious sexual assault’ does not convey the devastating impact that being assaulted like that can have on someone’s confidence.”

    She was critical of the decision by the Department of Justice to publish the report yesterday at the start of Christmas week and said no one from either the department or the Diocese of Cloyne had contacted her to offer any support in advance of publication.

    Another woman, “Keita”, said she was glad the report had been published. She had not been able to sleep in recent days waiting for it to emerge, as it had been hanging over her for three years.

    “It’s three years since I spoke up and it’s been hell having this hanging over me – it’s still going to be hell, but at least I can try to move on now. Nothing in the report surprises me in terms of how the church authorities handled things, but at least it’s out there now.”