Background to the Cloyne report

Wed, Jul 13, 2011, 01:00

Background:  The decision to extend the remit of a State inquiry into clerical child sexual abuse to include the Diocese of Cloyne in January 2009 by the then minister for children Barry Andrews followed the publication of a church report critical of practices in the Co Cork diocese.

The report, by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSC), was highly critical of the way in which the Diocese of Cloyne and Bishop John Magee had handled a series of complaints made by five people against two priests.

NBSC chief executive Ian Elliott said child protection practices in the rural diocese were “significantly deficient in a number of respects”.

Following publication of the report by the Diocese of Cloyne on December 19th, 2008, Mr Andrews in January 2009 instructed the Commission of Investigation (Child Sexual Abuse) into the Archdiocese of Dublin to extend its remit to include the Diocese of Cloyne.

Formally established on March 24th, 2009, the commission of investigation under the chairmanship of Judge Yvonne Murphy began examining complaints of clerical abuse made between January 1st, 1996, and February 1st, 2009, against priests of the Diocese of Cloyne.

The report examines complaints against 19 priests, some of whom are deceased. Each priest complained of was given a pseudonym and dealt with in a separate chapter.

In total, the investigation team interviewed more than 100 people, including complainants, priests, gardaí, social workers and senior figures in the diocese, including Bishop John Magee (74).

The final report was handed over to the Minister for Justice on December 23rd, 2010.

Earlier, on March 7th, 2009,  Dr  Magee issued a statement read at Mass at St Colman’s cathedral in Cobh in which he announced he was stepping down from administrative duties in the diocese to allow him assist the Commission of Investigation team in its inquiries.

Just over a year later, on March 24th, 2010, Dr  Magee announced that he had tendered his resignation as bishop to Pope Benedict XVI, and it had been accepted.

In his statement, the bishop apologised to anyone who may have been abused by any priest while he was in charge of the diocese. He said he hoped the work and findings of the commission of investigation would help offer some healing to those who had been abused.

Concurrent with the commission of investigation investigation, gardaí have carried out a number of criminal investigations into allegations of child sexual abuse by priests in Cloyne following complaints by 10 women and one man.

A retired priest in the diocese has been brought before the courts since 2010 and it was in respect of that matter that Mr Justice Nichola Kearns ordered the redaction of one chapter of the commission of investigation report in case it might prejudice the accused’s trial.