Alliance Support Group

November 2012 Archives

Nun cleared of 63 child sex abuse charges by trial judge



By Greg Harkin

Friday November 30 2012

A NUN facing more than 60 child sex abuse charges has been cleared on the direction of a judge. Sister Mary Theresa Grogan, (62), also known as Sister Peter, was accused of 63 counts of indecent assault against seven girls at a Midlands school in the 1970s.


The offences were alleged to have taken place in a classroom and school library between 1973 and 1977.

But after five days of legal argument without the jury, Judge Donagh McDonagh issued verdicts of 'not guilty' on all charges.

The nun burst into tears at the back of the court after the judge delivered his ruling.

Three of the complainants in the case had to be helped from the back of the court whilst a fourth women sobbed loudly in the public gallery.

Judge McDonagh had ruled that the inconsistency of some of the evidence given by the complainants had made the trial unsafe.

- Greg Harkin

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Man takes case against Brother he says abused him in school


Fri, Nov 30, 2012

A man has brought a High Court action for damages claiming he was sexually abused by a religious Brother who taught him in primary school.

The man (52), who says the abuse blighted his life, is suing the Brother, the religious order and the State.

He claims he was sexually abused in the school between 1969 and 1972, when he was aged from nine to 12. The alleged abuse, involving fondling, was often carried out during class time, he claims.

The Brother denies the claims of abuse while the other defendants deny vicarious liability on grounds including that the school was managed by the local bishop.

The court heard the Brother was previously convicted by a jury of sexually abusing a number of pupils but this conviction was set aside on appeal. A second trial resulted in a conviction which was again appealed, judgment in which is pending.

© 2012 The Irish Times

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Ex-Brother to face trial over sex assaults



Thu, Nov 29, 2012

A former Christian Brother is to face trial in Limerick on more than 100 charges of indecently assaulting young boys.

Séamus Treacy ( 70), Ashton Close, Swords, Dublin, was presented with a completed book of evidence at Limerick District Court yesterday.

Mr Treacy is a former Christian Brother and was based at CBS primary school on Sexton Street in Limerick city.

He is charged with 138 counts of indecent assault on 13 boys at CBS primary school on Sexton Street and at St Enda’s swimming pool at Roxboro, on dates between 1978 and 1981.

At Limerick District Court, Garda Deirdre Foley from Roxboro Garda station presented Mr Treacy with the completed book of evidence – which runs to three volumes.

Sgt Donal Cronin told the court the DPP has consented to the matter being sent forward for trial during the next sitting of Limerick Circuit Court.

The accused’s solicitor, Bobby Eager, said that given the number and the age of the charges, he was applying for himself and two counsel to be assigned to the case. This was granted by Judge Eugene O’Kelly.

Mr Treacy remains on bail.

© 2012 The Irish Times

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Origins Tracing Service Barnardos.


"I would like to meet my sister, this has been my long aim, even if it is only for one day"

"I am just glad I know who I am"

"Excellent service, very happy to have found my family"

Who can apply to the Origins Service?

Origins is for people (and their families) who spent all or part of their childhood in an Irish industrial School and are interested in tracing information about their parents, siblings or other relatives. The service is available to people in Ireland and abroad.

What does Origins do?

Experienced professional staff, offer advice, support and mediation in your search for your family of origin. Around 50% of the cases dealt with by the Origins team have led to reunion with their family of origin. Many of these cases involved reuniting sisters and brothers who were separated as children.

The service is completely confidential. There is no charge for the service as it is funded by the Department of Education and Science.

We wish to ensure that everyone who is entitled to our service has the opportunity to avail of it.

Contacting Us

A: Barnardos, Hyde Square, 654 Sth. Circular Rd. Dublin 8
T: 01 453 0355 (for residents abroad, please call +353 1 453 0355)





Barnardos supports children whose well-being is under threat, by working with them, their families and communities and by campaigning for the rights of children. Barnardos was established in 1962 and is Ireland's leading independent children's charity.

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Nun denies indecent assaults against girls



Sat, Nov 24, 2012

A nun has described as “repulsive” complaints that she committed a series of indecent assaults against girls aged seven and eight.

The nun denies 67 charges of indecent assaults against seven women.

St Mary Theresa Grogan told Garda Olive Dreelan, who led the inquiry into the alleged offences, that she wouldn’t do anything to a child, a court heard yesterday.

Garda Dreelan gave evidence of a statement fom Sr Mary Theresa (63), who is accused of a series of the offences between 1973 and 1977.

Garda Dreelan said she went to interview the nun in 2007 about complaints made by seven women in 2006.

Garda Dreelan told Sligo Circuit Court that the nun, when one girl’s statement of complaint was read to her, said: “From the depths of my being I cannot accept that.”

In response to several statements of complaint of indecent assault by other women when they were schoolgirls the nun said: “I cannot accept that.” She added after hearing one woman’s complaint: “I find it repulsive. I would deny this. I think it is horrendous.”

© 2012 The Irish Times

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New bishop committed to healing


Canon William Crean, parish priest of Cahirciveen, Co Kerry, who has been appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Cloyne.


  • Cloyne Diocese
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Canon William Crean, parish priest of Cahirciveen in Co Kerry and newly appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Cloyne, has admitted a level of apprehension about the appointment.

Speaking today at St Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh, the bishop-elect said he was committing himself to do all he could with others in the diocese to bring healing and hope to the lives of all victims of abuse and their families.

“Because I am deeply conscious of the trauma of these years past - so much suffering endured by young people at the hands of a few - sufferings compounded by the failure of those who didn’t believe them and those who didn’t hear their cry for help,” he said.

“One thing I ask, however, is your patience to allow me time to grasp the full measure of this deep hurt,” he added.

The previous Bishop of Cloyne, Dr John Magee, had stepped down in 2010 after it was revealed he did not follow proper child protection guidelines.

The Cloyne report, which investigated how clerical child sex abuse allegations were handled in the diocese between 1996 and 2009, detailed a catalogue of failures on the part of church authorities. It laid the blame squarely with the former bishop and Msgr Denis O’Callaghan.

In 2009 the Cork based Bishop said he was withdrawing from the running of the diocese in order to dedicate himself fully to the Commission of Investigation of Cloyne report.

However, he retained the title of Bishop of Cloyne. Most Reverend Dermot Clifford took over as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne.

The diocese has a Catholic population of over 150,000 people in 46 parishes with 107 churches and encompasses most of Co Cork.

Canon Crean served as parish priest in Castlegregory/Cloghane (1999 - 2006) and in Cahirciveen since 2006. He also served on the executive of the National Conference of Priests of Ireland for three years in the 1980s.

Primate of All Ireland Cardinal Seán Brady congratulated Canon Crean on his appointment.

Speaking from Rome, Cardinal Brady said: "On this the feast of Saint Colman, patron saint of the Diocese of Cloyne, I warmly welcome the news that the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has named Canon William Crean, Parish Priest of Cahirciveen, Bishop of Cloyne."

"I am confident that his ability and experience will greatly benefit the pastoral life of the diocese and, in addition, to the Irish Bishops’ Conference."

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Nun's voice brought it all back, claims accuser


By Paddy Clancy
Friday November 23 2012

A WOMAN who claims she was indecently assaulted by a nun as a child said her ordeal "all came back" to her three decades later when she heard the nun's voice in a shop.

The woman was the final complainant of seven to give evidence at the trial of Sr Mary Theresa Grogan, formerly known as Sr Peter.

She told Sligo Circuit Court that the nun indecently assaulted her as an eight-year-old more than 35 years ago. A second woman also made similar claims in court yesterday.

The final complainant, a 47-year-old who is now the mother of a 17-year-old girl, told the court yesterday "it all came back" when she heard Sr Grogan's voice in 2006 in a shop in the town where the school is located.

The trial had already heard from five other women, saying the 63-year-old nun put her hand inside their underwear and petted their bottom. Some said she also moved her hand round to touch their vagina.

The court has also been told the nun was just out of teacher training college when the alleged offences were committed in a primary school in the Midlands.

Sr Grogan, of the Mercy Order, has denied 63 counts of indecent assault against seven women when they were seven and eight-year-olds.

The court was told she was principal of the school for a period in the 1980s while she was still known as Sr Peter.

She changed to Sr Mary Theresa Grogan when she joined the missions in Zambia in 1990.

The prosecution case is expected to end today and the defence will start next week. The case was moved from the Midlands town where the alleged offences happened to Sligo at the defence's request.

- Paddy Clancy


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Catholic teaching institute liable for abuse at school


Graham Baverstock is among 170 men who claim they were abused


A Catholic teaching institute is liable for alleged physical and sexual abuse at a former boys' school, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Claims of abuse are being made by 170 former pupils of St William's in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire.

Judges said the De La Salle Brotherhood was liable along with the Middlesbrough diocese which owned the school.

The BBC's Danny Shaw said it was a landmark ruling which could affect other claims of abuse at institutions.

St William's, which looked after boys aged 10 to 16 with emotional and behavioural problems until it closed in 1992, had been owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough, but many of the staff were members of the De La Salle Brotherhood.

A former principal at the school and former De La Salle member, James Carragher, was jailed in 2004 for abusing pupils.

Settlement hope

Brother Aidan Kilty, from the brotherhood, said they accepted the court's decision.

He said: "We deeply regret what happened at St William's and the harm that was done there through the behaviour of James Carragher.

Civil claims for compensation for historical sexual abuse can be brought against organisations in two ways.

Organisations are automatically liable for the acts of people they employ. It's known as vicarious liability. They can also be sued in negligence if they failed to act to prevent sexual abuse when they had enough knowledge to know that it was a real threat.

However, negligence is not automatic. It has to be proved and that can be a complex process involving proof of complaints, the knowledge the organisation had of the issue, and whether any measures it put in place to prevent abuse were sufficient.

Claims in vicarious liability are therefore quicker and easier, and so the preferred route for claimants.

Today's judgement is of real significance because it broadens the traditional vicarious liability of organisations.

In the past this has largely been confined to the employer/employee relationship.

Today's ruling makes it clear that that can be an artificial distinction, and that liability can arise from other relationships which are akin to employment. That could have a bearing on claims arising out of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

"Even before this matter first came to light, the De La Salle Order completely reorganised its safeguarding procedures and remains committed to robust compliance with the procedures laid down by the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission on behalf of the Catholic Church in England and Wales."

Graham Baverstock, who says he was repeatedly attacked at the home from the age of 14, said it was a relief to now know who was liable.

Mr Baverstock, from Bridlington, said he felt it was time for both the diocese and brotherhood to make settlement offers to stop the "protracted suffering" of the claimants, but feared the process of claiming compensation would be drawn out.

"They'll continue this game until all of us are dead, simple as that. We are all getting old, we have to live daily with the nightmares, with the knowledge of what went on."

The Court of Appeal ruled in 2010 that the Middlesbrough diocese was solely responsible for an £8m compensation claim.

'Justice at stake'

But the Supreme Court judges said it was "fair, just and reasonable" for the De La Salle Brotherhood to share liability.

In a statement, the diocese said it appealed against the 2010 ruling because "there was an important principle of justice at stake, that those who ran St William's on a day-to-day basis at the time the alleged abuse took place should share the burden of compensating its victims".

"We are also pleased that, now that the question of who is legally liable for the historic abuse at St William's has been decided, the individual claims for compensation can begin to be examined by the courts."

Humberside Police began an investigation in 2001, which focused on child abuse at the home.

Former principal Carragher was jailed for 14 years in 2004 for abusing boys in his care over a 20-year period.

Compensation claims on behalf of former pupils were first submitted in 2004. The alleged abuse is said to have taken place between 1958 and 1992.

Solicitor David Greenwood, who is representing the claimants, said: "This case should have been settled years ago.

"I hope that the recent news events regarding the Jimmy Savile cases and the public's new understanding of the effects of sexual abuse on victims means that both Catholic organisations are now prepared to reach a sensible negotiated settlement."

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Fourth woman gives evidence in trial of nun accused of indecent assault


Sr Mary Theresa Grogan denies 63 charges of indecently assaulting seven young girls in the 1970s
Sr Mary Theresa Grogan denies 63 charges of indecently assaulting seven young girls in the 1970s

A fourth alleged victim of a nun on trial for indecently assaulting third class pupils has told Sligo Circuit Court that she was terrified every time she was called up to the nun's desk.

The woman, who is now in her forties, described how Sr Mary Theresa Grogan, formerly known as Sr Peter, indecently assaulted her as she read her homework at the nun's desk.

Sr Grogan denies 63 charges of indecently assaulting seven young girls in a midlands national school in the 1970s.

The alleged victim said Sr Peter would tell the other children in the class to 'teigh a chodladh' when she was called up to the desk.

She said she would be pinned up against the desk but she didn't know how many times this had happened.

The complainant said that she would pretend to be sick so that she would not have to go to school during third class.

She said she remembers wishing she had cancer and doing things like eating soap to make herself sick to get out of going to school.

The woman told the court that she had nightmares, and still has nightmares and flashbacks as an adult.

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Nun put hands down my pants in classroom, abuse trial told


By Paddy Clancy
Wednesday November 21 2012

A 45-year-old mother of two told a court of her horror when she was trapped inside a school library with a nun accused of indecent assault. She alleged that the nun fondled her.

Sr Mary Theresa Grogan, who was known as Sr Peter when she taught at a primary school in the Midlands in the 1970s and 1980s, denies 63 charges of indecent assault against seven pupils between 1973 and 1977.

The witness told Sligo Circuit Court that she was bending over a press in the library when she looked around. Sr Peter was there and she pressed her against the wall and fondled her breasts.

The woman fought back tears as she said: "I thought, 'How am I going to get out of this?' She grabbed me and started fondling my breasts. I don't know how I got out."

The woman told the court that as a child she was a slow reader and that Sr Peter called her up in class to read out loud. The nun then put her hand down the child's pants, rubbing her bottom and moving round to the front, while the other children had their heads down on the desks after being instructed in Irish to go to sleep.

The woman told the court that the alleged abuse she received in third class had "left its mark on me".

During a reference to separate civil proceedings, the woman said: "This is not about money. No money can pay for what Sr Peter did to me."

Earlier, another 45-year-old mother of two, who has accused the nun of indecent assaults, told the court of separate incidents of sexual abuse by men.

She said that 18 years after the alleged assaults by the nun in 1976 and 1977 she was treated in a hospital psychiatric unit. She also attended an abuse and rape-crisis centre.

She agreed with Geraldine Biggs, defending Sr Grogan, that she had seen a psychotherapist 109 times.

She told the psychotherapist of an occasion, when she was aged 10, when a male friend of her parents had brought her into a room at a party and asked her to touch his genitals. On another occasion, when she was eight, a male neighbour requested her to touch him.


Ms Biggs noted that the woman, who accuses the nun (63) of touching her beneath her underwear on her bottom, did not accuse the sister of child sexual abuse

Counsel reminded the woman that in her main evidence she said the nun, known as Sr Peter in the class, was very nice and very sweet.

Ms Biggs said court documents showed the woman said that she had feared beatings from Sr Peter.

The woman replied that she was on heavy medication at the time and didn't remember using the word "beat".

The trial, which was transferred to Sligo on a defence request from the Midlands town where the offences are alleged to have happened and is in its second week, continues.

- Paddy Clancy


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Nun's trial hears from alleged victim


Sr Mary Theresa Grogan has denied the charges
Sr Mary Theresa Grogan has denied the charges

A third complainant in the trial of a nun charged with indecently assaulting female pupils at a national school in the midlands has given evidence in court.

She told Sligo Circuit Court the abuse she received in third class had "left its mark on me".

Sr Mary Theresa Grogan, formerly known as Sr Peter, has denied 63 charges of indecently assaulting seven young girls in the 1970s.

In evidence today, one alleged victim told of her horror when she was trapped inside the school library with the accused nun.

She said the nun grabbed her and assaulted her. She said: "I don't know how I got out."

During a reference to separate civil proceedings the woman said: "This is not about money. No money can pay for what Sr Peter did to me."

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Bethany children must not be forgotten


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Speaking in the wake of the children’s referendum, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government will respond "positively and wholeheartedly" and match the new legislation with appropriate action.

Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald referred to the decision of the people as giving a voice to children and was a historic day for the children of Ireland that would ensure their rights were better protected, and was an affirmation that the State recognises the ‘natural and imprescriptable rights’ of children which will be protected and vindicated by the State.

Legislation emanating from the passing of this referendum must also embrace children of the past, including children from the Bethany Homes and Magdalene laundries who have been exempted from the Residential Institutional Redress Act 2002.

It seems absurd that abused children of the Bethany and Magdalene Institutions are less cherished by the State than those children of similar institutions.

While acknowledging the attempts that have been made to heal the scars and wounds associated with institutional child abuse by way of the publication of the Ryan report, the State apology to victims, the setting up of the redress scheme, etc, I believe the exemption of former residents of the Magdalene laundries and the Bethany Home from the redress scheme is no longer defensible. The Government must implement the substance of the referendum as is their constitutional obligation.

Tom Cooper
Dublin 16

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Priest remanded over abuse of boy in Munster


BARRY ROCHE, Southern Correspondent

Fri, Nov 16, 2012

A Dominican priest has been remanded on bail after he was charged with sexually assaulting a boy at locations in Munster about 20 years ago.

Fr Vincent Mercer (66), who is out of ministry but remains a member of the Dominican Order, appeared at Cork District Court yesterday in relation to the offences.

He was charged with 39 counts of sexually assaulting the juvenile, who was aged from 11 to 17, between January 1st, 1986, and February 22nd, 1994. The offences are alleged to have happened at a house in Cork city, in Co Limerick, in Co Cork and in a number of unknown locations.

Garda Caroline Keogh gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution. She told the court that Fr Mercer made no reply to the charges when they were put to him after caution.

Garda Insp Mary King said the DPP had directed trial by indictment before a judge and jury at Circuit Court level and gardaí had no objection to bail with conditions attached.

Robert Eagar, defending, said his client was willing to abide by the conditions, including that he reside with the Dominican community at Black Abbey in Kilkenny.

Gardaí also sought that Fr Mercer sign on twice weekly at Kilkenny Garda station and that he not have any contact with children as part of his bail terms.

© 2012 The Irish Times

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Woman says nun on trial for abuse was her favourite teacher



Thu, Nov 15, 2012

A woman has told a court that a nun, who had started to indecently assault her when she was seven years old, had been her favourite teacher.

“I loved her,” the witness told Sligo Circuit Court as Sr Mary Theresa Grogan listened from the public gallery.

The woman in her 30s, one of seven complainants who has made allegations against Sr Grogan, said the nun used to tell the other children in the classroom to “teigh a chodladh”(go to sleep)while she assaulted her up at the desk.

The witness said Sr Grogan was the only teacher who did not slap the children. She wept as she said that she had made her feel special.

“She called me her pet.”

The complainant showed the jury how the nun would beckon her up to the desk to correct her homework while the other girls in third class would have their heads in their arms on top of their desks after being told to go to sleep.

Sr Grogan, a member of the Mercy Order, has denied 63 counts of indecent assault against seven girls who were then in third class at a school in the midlands. The offences are alleged to have taken place in the 1970s.

The witness said she would stand to the left of the desk to have her homework corrected. “She would whisper in my ear and tell me how good I was.” She said the nun would have her right hand on the desk correcting homework and would put her left hand inside her underwear.

She said she was still seven when went into third class. The assaults started after about a month. It happened regularly, “definitely twice a week”, and continued until she went into fourth class. Asked how she felt, she said it made her feel good. “I think it was just the attention”.

She made a statement to gardaí in January, 2006. Her children were starting school and she wanted to make sure there were no nuns in the school. “I wanted her named and shamed,” she said.

Cross-examined by Geraldine Biggs SC, she was asked why she had not told all the details of the assaults to a nun from the Mercy Order who had interviewed her about the allegations. She said it would be hard to use the word “vagina” when talking to a nun.

The trial continues today.

© 2012 The Irish Times

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Nun accused of 63 counts of indecent assault goes on trial

Nun accused of 63 counts of indecent assault goes on trial


Wed, Nov 14, 2012

A nun accused of the “systematic” abuse of seven schoolgirls almost 40 years ago has gone on trial. Sr Mary Teresa Grogan (above), a member of the Mercy Order, has denied 63 counts of indecently assaulting the girls when she was teaching them in third class in a primary school in the midlands.

Sligo Circuit Court heard yesterday that the alleged offences happened from 1973 to 1977.

A jury of seven women and five men were told that they would hear evidence from one complainant, who was in the nun’s class from 1973 to 1974, that the nun would call her up to her desk in the classroom and put her hand inside her underwear, indecently assaulting her.

Aileen Donnelly SC, prosecuting, said the other complainants would give evidence of indecent assaults which were “highly similar” but not necessarily identical.

Many of the victims were in court yesterday as the nun, now aged 62, answered “not guilty” in a barely audible voice 63 times, as each of the charges were put to her.

The trial, expected to take up to three weeks, continues today

© 2012 The Irish Times

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Alleged victim tells court nun told other children to go to sleep before abusing her in class



One of the alleged victims in the trial of a nun accused of indecently assaulting pupils in a midlands national school in the 1970s has given evidence in court.

Sr Mary Theresa Grogan denies the allegations
Sr Mary Theresa Grogan denies the allegations

She said that the nun would tell the other children to "téigh a chodladh" (go to sleep) when she called her up to her desk to correct her homework and indecently assaulted her there.

Sr Mary Theresa Grogan denies the 63 allegations of indecently assaulting seven young girls, mostly in a classroom.

The woman said Sr Mary Theresa Grogan was her favourite teacher.

She told the court that she never slapped the pupils and gave her a lot of attention and made her feel she was special.

The witness cried as she described to the court how Sr Mary Theresa Grogan, formerly known as Sr Peter, put her hand inside her underwear and assaulted her twice a week.

She claimed the abuse started about a month into the school year and would happen as she stood beside the nun at her desk with the nun whispering into her ear how good she was and that she was her pet.

The alleged victim said she did not think what had happened to her was wrong until she had her own children.

She said she wanted to prevent the nun going into the school and being among children including her children.

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Nun goes on trial over 63 charges of indecent assaults


Sr Mary Theresa Grogan has pleaded not guilty to 63 charges of indecently assaulting seven young girls
Sr Mary Theresa Grogan has pleaded not guilty to 63 charges of indecently assaulting seven young girls

Sr Mary Theresa Grogan, formerly known as Sr Peter, has pleaded not guilty to 63 charges of indecently assaulting seven young girls, mostly in a classroom in the school between 1973 and 1977.

The court was told by the prosecution that the abuse was systematic, all the alleged victims were the same age, they were third class pupils.

It heard that the assaults were repetitive and similar with the girls being called up to the nun's desk when it was time to correct homework.

Sr Grogan, 62, spent time in the missions in Africa but when she returned a number of years ago, one of the alleged victims made a complaint to gardaí who began an investigation.

The trial before Judge Donagh McDonagh is expected to continue for two to three weeks.

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Australian cardinal admits 'shame' over Catholic sexual abuse scandal




1 of 1Cardinal George Pell believes the problem of sexual abuse in his church has been 'exaggerated'
Cardinal George Pell believes the problem of sexual abuse in his church has been 'exaggerated'

However, Cardinal Pell also warned that the extent of the problem within his church had been exaggerated.

Yesterday, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard ordered a rare Royal Commission, the highest form of investigation in the country, into how churches, government bodies and other organisations have dealt with possibly thousands of child sex abuse claims.

Cardinal Pell, Australia's only cardinal, said the church would co-operate fully with the new inquiry, which can compel witnesses to give evidence and produce documents, and that he did not believe the Catholic Church was the main perpetrator.

"We are not interested in denying the extent of misdoing in the Catholic Church.

"We object to it being exaggerated, we object to it being described as 'the only cab on the rank'," he said.

"We acknowledge, with shame, the extent of the problem and I want to assure you that we have been serious in attempting to eradicate it and deal with it," he told reporters in Sydney.

Ms Gillard called the inquiry in the face of mounting political pressure after explosive reports that orders within the Catholic Church had covered up abuse claims and hindered police inquires over several decades in New South Wales and Victoria, Australia's two most populous states.

Cardinal Pell, who is also the archbishop of Sydney, denied the Catholic Church actively covered up any child abuse and said comprehensive procedures introduced in 1992 ensured full cooperation with police and swift action against alleged abusers.

"We will co-operate fully. We have nothing we want to hide," Cardinal Pell said.

The cardinal also said priests should refuse to hear confessions from suspected child abusers to ensure priests were not then bound by the confidentiality of the confessional.

"If the priest knows beforehand about such a situation, the priest should refuse to hear the confession. That would be my advice. I would never hear the confession of a priest who was suspected of such a thing," he said.

Yesterday, a former police officer who investigated child abuse for decades told Australian television the Royal Commission should examine aspects of the Catholic Church such as confession.

Former police officer Peter Fox sparked a nationwide outcry last week when he alleged the Catholic Church had covered up abuse by priests in the Hunter Valley region north of Sydney. His allegations ultimately led to the new inquiry being called.

Ms Gillard has yet to announce who will preside over it, or its terms of reference.

She hopes to finalise the details by the end of this year but has refused to set a time limit on the Royal Commission, which could run for several years.

The Catholic Church is Australia's largest, with 5.4 million followers, representing about one in four Australians.

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Australia child abuse body welcomed


Australian prime minister Julia Gillard: "appropriate for there to be a national response through a royal commission". photograph: reuters




The Australian government last night announced the creation of a national royal commission on child sexual abuse.

A royal commission is Australia’s highest form of inquiry on matters of public importance.

Prime minister Julia Gillard said it would look at all religious bodies, state care providers, non-profit organisations and evidence provided by child service agencies and the police.

“The allegations that have come to light recently about child sexual abuse have been heartbreaking,” Ms Gillard said. “These are insidious, evil acts to which no child should be subject.”

Ms Gillard and her Labor Party government had been under great pressure to call an inquiry following allegations made last week by a senior New South Wales police investigator that the Catholic Church covered up evidence concerning paedophile priests.

Over the weekend some Labor and independent MPs joined the call for a national inquiry.

Earlier yesterday opposition Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott said he supported a “wide-ranging” royal commission into child sex abuse but said it should not focus only on claims involving the Catholic Church.

The government says it will consult with stakeholders over the coming weeks before announcing the investigation’s terms of reference.

National response

“Australians know . . . that too many children have suffered child abuse, but have also seen other adults let them down. They’ve not only had their trust betrayed by the abuser but other adults who could have acted to assist them have failed to do so,” said Ms Gillard.

“There have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil. I believe in these circumstances that it’s appropriate for there to be a national response through a royal commission.”

Det Chief Insp Peter Fox, whose claim the Catholic Church covered up crimes of paedophile priests has led to the royal commission, says he is stunned it has happened so quickly.

“[I’m] absolutely delighted for all those victims out there because this gives us so much of an opportunity to get things right, to look at recommendations for laws that should be changed to protect kids,” he told ABC radio.

Insp Fox praised the prime minister for her decisive action. “I’m not politically aligned to anyone, and I haven’t always been a big fan of Julia Gillard personally, but my God she’s had some guts this afternoon.”

Acting minister for families Brendan O’Connor emphasised last night that the commission would not single out any particular church.

“The child sex abuse offences, and indeed allegations of child sex abuse, are not confined to one church,” he said.

“They’re not confined to one religious organisation. Unfortunately, offences against children have occurred to children in state care and indeed, have occurred to children under the care in other religious organisations and of course also not-for-profit organisations. It would be very unfair and quite cruel to confine . . . the commission’s examination to one body.”

The announcement has been broadly welcomed by victims of child sexual abuse. Peter Blenkiron, who was abused by Christian Brothers, said he and fellow survivors were in tears when they heard that a royal commission was being set up.

Tears of joy

“This is massive. I’ve just been speaking to blokes in tears, tears of joy,” he said.

“People have asked me what about the hardship it’s going to create for everybody. It’s a necessary short-term pain for long-term gain that brings out the truth.”

The leader of the Catholic Church in Australia, Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal

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Do we get it?

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We were betrayed, and children will go on suffering despite referendum result

Bruce Arnold

Picture: @stephenbyrne86



Monday November 12 2012

THE Government did not act "in good faith" in its information campaign in the Children Referendum, as Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Children, has claimed in the wake of the Supreme Court judgment. She also claimed, in an article in this newspaper replying to one written by me, that: "Mr Arnold makes a range of statements which act to distort the purpose of this referendum and the legal impact it will have on protecting children and supporting families."

In particular, she referred to my having made false statements -- "continuing to repeat false and misleading statements over and over again does not make them true".

She needs to reflect on her and the Government's wrongful attempts to intrude with state power into the people's constitutional rights, and to use public money to influence the people improperly.

Furthermore, the Government did not make "some mistakes", as Leo Varadkar, Fine Gael's director of elections for the referendum, has said. It did much more than that. And when Eamon Gilmore said that the judgment "did not change the arguments that are in favour of the referendum", he was wrong. It deliberately sought to distort them, exposing the Government's lack of confidence and its wrong-doing based on that.

The Government acted with deliberation and knowledge in corrupting what should have been the official, unbiased and exclusive advice of the Referendum Commission in giving to the people of Ireland guidance over the meaning of the Children referendum.

The commission was already reduced in its function by the devious and dishonest Fianna Fail removal from legislation, in 2001, of an obligation to give both the Yes and No views on whatever issue was being put before the people. The present government parties opposed that. The Taoiseach and 10 of his ministers, when in opposition, did so vehemently and with conviction. They sought then to preserve balance and fairness.

They have now, in their campaign, reversed all this, colluding in a further corruption of this important safeguard mechanism, and none of the excuses they offer has any validity. They sought deliberately to introduce their own biased views, were challenged, prevented and shamed. Any pretence otherwise has no credibility.

Eleven members of the current Government were in the Dail on the last sitting day in December 2001 when the Fianna Fail party in power forced through an amendment that removed from the 1998 Referendum Act the Referendum Commission's function of giving equal information on the Yes and No side in any referendum campaign.

Those 11 deputies fought hard to stop the devious and dishonest way in which Fianna Fail were removing a key part of referendum law. On that day, one day's notice was given to the opposition. They had no time to draw attention to what was happening. All stages of the amendment were put through the Dail and Seanad in that one day. There is a certain irony in Fianna Fail's spokesman on children, Robert Troy, criticising the Government's "failure to ensure fairness and impartiality". But then, Mr Troy was not around 10 years ago when his party did just that.

INSTEAD of restoring, in power, what they had fought for in opposition, the Government did the opposite by attempting to second-guess and manipulate through what was found by the Supreme Court to be an illegal website, booklet and advertising campaign, wrongly emphasising Yes information on which people would depend to make their decision on the Children Referendum. My taxes and everyone else's paid for this betrayal.

The Government sought to nullify, as far as it could, an important constitutional protection and it was found out and stopped by the Supreme Court. Any pretence that it was a lesser kind of intrusion based on a misunderstanding or a mistake made by all 15 members of the Cabinet is a piece of idiotic semantics made worse by the Department of Children's own admission that there was an error or "mis-statement" in the booklet and website.

Nor did the department respond immediately, and was criticised by Mark McCrystal, the Dublin engineer who took the challenge, for its delay in correcting the error on its website. The department was aware of the error on October 31, but did not correct its website until November 7, on the second day of the Supreme Court hearing, when it acknowledged the delay and revealed that the booklet and website had been thoroughly examined for compliance with the McKenna judgment since August by its own legal advisers and by the office of the Attorney General.

For us to believe the Leo Varadkar-Frances Fitzgerald-Eamon Gilmore-Enda Kenny versions of what happened is to believe in a collective amnesia when it was all deliberate. The whole Cabinet was suffering political forgetfulness with not a whisper of doubt or restraint. Blaming it on the Attorney General would be a further act of denial. The very least that should now be done is for Fine Gael and Labour to rectify the attempts to undermine the Referendum Act by restoring all of the lost or abused powers of the original Referendum Commission.

The Government responded to the Supreme Court judgment by engaging in spin, attempting to augment the argument of "an honest mistake" which is fatuous, separating its gross error from the main thrust of the constitutional amendment. The Government will not rectify. It will sweep it under the carpet and not revert to it again, thus damaging what is left of future trust.

A modest number of voters have spoken, leaving an uncertain and flawed result to an amendment that a senior former judge has said will make no difference. I do not quite concur in that. I think differences will follow, harmful and confused, and children in the State will go on suffering. That has been their lot for most of the past century.

Irish Independent

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'Predator' priest sentenced to two years for sexual assault


Fr Raymond Brady, who was sentenced to two years for sexual assault. Photograph: Ciara Wilkinson



A priest who sexually abused boys in the Diocese of Meath, including at two parochial houses, has been jailed for two years at Trim Circuit Criminal Court.

Fr Raymond Brady (77) from Baltrasna, Oldcastle, Co Meath, acted “like a predator”, said Judge Michael O’Shea.

Brady admitted indecently assaulting 10 boys – some of them brothers – at different locations including the parochial houses in Drumconrath and Kilbeg. He also admitted attempted indecent assault on another boy. Assaults also took place in a caravan in Bettystown and in the priest’s car as he took the boys to and from funeral Masses.

Most of the victims were altar boys and they were aged between 11 and 17.

The court heard that some of the boys were abused as they sat on the priest’s knee in the sitting room of their family home while their mother was in the kitchen making tea.

Another boy told Det Garda Bryan Moroney he woke in his bedroom to find the priest standing there – Brady knew the boy was on his own in the house and had let himself in before sexually assaulting him.

Two of the now middle-aged men read victim impact statements to the court. One said he still went to Mass and “it maddens me the way we are asked to pray for the church but nobody is ever asked to pray for the abused”.

He said he met Bishop of Meath Michael Smith several times but he never spoke to him about what happened. “I want everybody to know what Fr Brady has done,” he said.


The abuse came to light when one of the victims told a priest in Co Louth who immediately contacted the Garda.

Det Garda Moroney of Kells led the investigation. When he interviewed Brady, he said, the priest accepted the assaults were “motivated by sexual gratification”. Brady gave evidence and apologised “to anybody I have hurt or harmed in any way”.

The court heard he stopped abusing in the 1970s after “an encounter” with a teenage girl who was the victim of abuse, “who opened his eyes to the impact of sexual abuse on a child for the first time”. Senior counsel Padraig Dwyer, defending, said Brady has been suspended for a “considerable period of time from engaging in any activities in connection with the church”, and that he would be laicised after the court case.

Passing sentence, Judge O’Shea said, “I am satisfied he acted as a predator.” He said the sexual abuse could only be described as “humiliating, horrific and disgusting. He took their childhood and innocence from them.”

He took the guilty pleas into account and imposed the maximum two-year jail term on each of the 11 charges; they will run concurrently.

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Survivors Meetings


On Saturday the 10th November there will be a meeting in Waterford for all survivors.  Please do attend and support the work on going in your area.

The meeting will take place in the Glenville Hotel from 7 – 9 and is an important event for the way forward with your interests uppermost.


On the same Saturday there will also be a meeting in Kerry.   Details will be passed as usual through members.

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