A report into how allegations of child sex abuse were handled in the Clogher Diocese has revealed opportunities were “consistently missed”.
The audit by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church revealed allegations were made against 13 priests since 1975.
The Clogher Diocese includes six Tyrone parishes: Fintona, Dromore, Trillick, Eskra, Clogher and Aghavea-Aghintaine (Fivemiletown/Brookeboro). The diocese also spans across Fermanagh, Monaghan, Donegal, Louth and Cavan.
Of the 13 priests subject to allegations, seven were dead at the date the review commence on November 7 2012. A total of 23 allegations were reported to An Garda Síochána and 22 allegations to the HSE since January 1 1975.
However only two priests were ever convicted and the audit published today (Wednesday), revealed, “From the cases examined it was clear that opportunities for preventive interventions were consistently missed when concerns of abuse by clergy were highlighted in the past.”
The report highlights one particular case, where there was “an unacceptable delay” in taking action against a priest and removing him from his position, following what was classed “a credible allegation”.
In another, a priest suspected of multiple incidents of abuse, was not removed from ministry, but was instead transferred to another parish and eventually was sent overseas “for therapeutic help”.
The priest remained outside the jurisdiction and was eventually extradited back to this country several years later, but died before he could be brought before the courts.
The report also points out that a number of the allegations were made post-mortem, making it impossible for any investigation to take place.
The reviewers state that the impression they formed of past practice was that the response to abuse concerns was often “unsatisfactory” and that “risky behaviour was not addressed as strongly as it should have been”.
However in published the audit, the reviewers said they would draw a line between the practice of this diocese today and some of the practice that existed previously.
The report which aims to develop best practice in safeguarding children made a total of seven recommendations to the Bishop of Clogher, Liam McDaid.