Clonfert bishop knew of at least 22 abuse cases
BACKGROUND:More victims than the two reported by the cleric got compensation from his diocese
AFTER THE review of child protection practices in Clonfert diocese was published on September 5th, The Irish Times was informed by a well-placed source that the review was wrong in one of its main findings.
It had found there had been nine child abuse allegations made in the diocese. A more accurate figure would be 22, the source indicated.
The review was conducted by the Catholic Church’s child protection watchdog, its National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC). It found that nine child abuse allegations had been made against three priests in the diocese and another who provided holiday cover there. One of the four, referred to as Priest A, who was later laicised, was convicted in the courts.
The review also found that the Bishop of Clonfert, John Kirby, had dealt “inappropriately” with the abuse allegations.
At a press conference on September 5th, Bishop Kirby acknowledged moving to other parishes two priests whom he knew had abused children. These were referred to in the review as Priest A and Priest B.
Following conversations with this newspaper’s initial source and a meeting with other, similarly well-placed sources, The Irish Times established that Priest A had admitted to Bishop Kirby that he had abused 17 children. He said that nine of his victims had been in Kiltormer parish.
In 1990, when Priest A admitted to Bishop Kirby that he had abused a boy there, he was moved to Creagh parish. He later admitted to Bishop Kirby that he abused a further five children in Creagh parish, as well as two children in Portumna and another child elsewhere in the diocese.
Priest A admitted all of this personally to Bishop Kirby and gave him the names of his 17 victims while in Arbour Hill prison, where the priest was jailed between 1994 and 1998.
A child’s mother had gone to Bishop Kirby to establish whether her son was among Priest A’s victims. Bishop Kirby sought the list of victims from Priest A. It did not include the woman’s son.
The sources also disclosed that Priest B had died recently and had been moved to another parish by Bishop Kirby in 1994 following allegations that he abused a child in Gurteen parish.
The third priest, Priest C, was on holiday relief in the diocese when, at a funeral, he abused the son of the deceased. He returned afterwards to abuse the boy again.
Priest D is understood to have abused three boys from one family in Kiltormer parish.