Clerical child abuse - an Irish timeline

Wed, Jul 13, 2011, 01:00

How the story of abuse in Catholic Church institutions emerged

1986/7 - Insurance taken out by dioceses around the country to cover them against allegations of clerical child sex abuse. The State publishes its first set of guidelines on child abuse.

1988 - Desmond Connell appointed Archbishop of Dublin.

1990 - Irish Catholic Church establishes internal committee (chaired by Bishop of Ossory Laurence Forristal) to assess legal implications for Irish priests of child abuse revelations in the future. No Irish case has yet been made public.


JUNE - The scandal breaks. Fr Brendan Smyth is sentenced to four years in prison for abuse of children in Northern Ireland.

OCTOBER - Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference refuses to comment on reports that two Kerry priests were removed from their duties on foot of allegations of child sexual abuse.

NOVEMBER - Government falls over divisions between coalition partners Fianna Fáil and Labour over attorney general's handling of extradition requests for Fr Brendan Smyth to Northern Ireland.


APRIL - Andrew Madden is the first victim of clerical child sex abuse to go public. The Irish Press reports that he has received a compensation payment in respect of his abuse as a child.

MAY - Archbishop Desmond Connell announces that the archdiocese has never paid compensation to any victim of clerical child abuse. He later explains that the money used to compensate Andrew Madden was a "loan" from the archdiocese to Ivan Payne.

JUNE - A Dublin priest receives 12-month sentence for child sex abuse; Belfast priest Daniel Curran sentenced to seven years for child sex abuse. A number of other priests charged with abuse during following months.

SEPTEMBER - Prime Time programme names Ivan Payne as abuser of Andrew Madden. Archbishop Connell threatens to sue over suggestions that he facilitated the compensation payment to Andrew. No case is ever taken.

OCTOBER - The Irish Times reports that another Dublin priest paid £50,000 compensation to a man he abused as a child.

NOVEMBER - Bishops issue fullest apology to date. Wexford priest Fr Sean Fortune charged with child sex abuse.


JANUARY - Bishops publish new guidelines on child sex abuse cases, The Framework Document, otherwise known as the "green book".


JUNE - A Dublin priest received an 18-month jail sentence for sexually abusing a young girl during the 1970s.

JULY - Fr Brendan Smyth jailed in Dublin for 12 years for abusing children south of the Border.


FEBRUARY - Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announces that mandatory reporting of child sex abuse will be introduced within lifetime of current government. (To date, this has still not happened.)

JUNE - Irish priest Fr Patrick Maguire (Columban) jailed in London for child abuse (18 months). Fr Ivan Payne jailed for sexual abuse of eight young boys. His two-year sentence is criticised for being too light.

JULY - Fr Gus Griffin (Holy Ghost Fathers) sentenced to seven years for abusing young boys. Fr Thomas Naughton sentenced to three years for abusing four young altar boys.


MARCH - Fr Sean Fortune takes his own life on the eve of his trial on multiple charges of child abuse.

JUNE - Pope John Paul II rejects any linkage between child sexual abuse and priestly celibacy.


SEPTEMBER - Retired judge Gillian Hussey appointed by hierarchy to chair Church's Child Protection Committee. Audit of all dioceses announced.


MARCH - BBC television broadcasts Suing the Pope on the abuse of boys in the Ferns diocese by Fr Sean Fortune.

APRIL - Bishop of Ferns Brendan Comiskey resigns in response to evidence that he covered up child sex abuse in his diocese.

Government announces establishment of independent inquiry into child abuse in the Ferns diocese.

JUNE - Maynooth trustees announce inquiry into allegations of improper behaviour by its former vice-president, Msgr Micheál Ledwith.

OCTOBER- RTÉ's Prime Time broadcasts Cardinal Secrets on the handling by a number of bishops of clerical child sex abuse allegations in the archdiocese of Dublin.

NOVEMBER - Government pledges to establish full independent judicial inquiry into Dublin archdiocese's handling of abuse allegations.

DECEMBER - Hierarchy disbands its own national audit committee.


JANUARY - Mervyn Rundle, abused by Fr Thomas Naughton, receives one of largest settlements to date, reported to be more than €300,000.

MAY - Diarmuid Martin named as successor to Desmond Connell as Archbishop of Dublin.


APRIL - Cardinal Desmond Connell steps down as Archbishop of Dublin.


OCTOBER - Ferns Report is published, detailing extensive child abuse and cover-up.

NOVEMBER - Judge Yvonne Murphy appointed to head up Commission of Investigation into the Dublin archdiocese.


JANUARY - Cardinal Connell seeks to refuse access by the Commission of Investigation to over 5,000 documents that he claims are confidential. He eventually drops his challenge.

DECEMBER - A report by the Church's own child abuse watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children, reveals that child protection practices in the diocese are inadequate and in some respects dangerous.


JANUARY - Government extends remit of Dublin Commission of Investigation to examine the diocese of Cloyne.

MARCH - Bishop John Magee of Cloyne steps aside. He is replaced by the Archbishop of Cashel Dermot Clifford who the Vatican appointed as Apostolic Administrator to Cloyne diocese

MAY - Publication of five-volume Ryan report on widespread abuse of children in Ireland's residential institutions run by 18 religious congregations.

NOVEMBER - Murphy report on clerical child sex abuse in the Dublin archdiocese published. Two chapters, 19 and 20, are withheld pending court proceedings against two priests of the 46 investigated.

DECEMBER - Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick, Bishop Jim Moriarty of Kildare and Leiglin diocese, and Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field offer the resignations to the Pope following findings of the Murphy report.


FEBRUARY - Irish Bishops meet the Pope and senior Curial Cardinals in Rome.

MARCH - It emerged that in 1975, while conducting an investigation into allegations of the abuse of two young people by Fr Brendan Smyth, Cardinal Brady swore both young people to secrecy.

MARCH - Pope Benedict issues a Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland.

MARCH - Bishop Magee resigns as Bishop of Cloyne

MAY - Details of the Apostolic Visitation to Ireland, announced by Pope Benedict in his letter to Irish Catholics, are announced by the Vatican .

JUNE - Fr Bill Bermingham, Designated Person for Safeguarding Children in Cloyne diocese, resigns following controversy over his handling of an abuse allegation.

AUGUST - It emerges that the Vatican has refused to accept the resignations of Dublin Auxiliary Bishops Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field.

SEPTEMBER - Ireland's four Catholic Archbishops visit Rome in anticipation of the Apostolic Visitations

NOVEMBER - The Apostolic Visitation to Ireland begins.

DECEMBER - Former priest Tony Walsh is jailed for 16 years for the abuse of three Ballyfermot children. Chapter 19 of the Murphy report is published.


JANUARY - It emerged that in a January 1997 letter, marked confidential, the Vatican advised each Irish bishop it would oppose the mandatory reporting of clerical child sex abuse allegations to the civil authorities.

FEBRUARY - Service of Lament and Repentance for the sexual abuse of children by priests and religious at Dublin's Pro Cathedral.

MARCH - Apostolic Visitation Teams to the Irish Archdioceses and seminaries complete their reports. Those concerned with the religious congregations continue their work.

APRIL - Reports of Apostolic Visitation teams to the Irish Archdioceses and seminaries presented to the Vatican.

MAY - The Church's child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children, publishes its third annual report.

JUNE - The Vatican says there will be no response by it to the Apostolic Visitation reports until early 2012.

JULY - Publication of the Cloyne report