Dominican Order says 97 complaints of alleged child sex abuse received

Religious order says 29 allegations of abuse reported by past pupils of Newbridge College

The Dominican Order says it has received 97 complaints of alleged child sexual abuse by its members, a large number of which relate to Newbridge College in Co Kildare, which it previously ran.

Abuse allegations had been made against 37 members of the order, the majority of whom are now deceased.

In a statement on Monday, the order said 29 of the allegations related to six members who were in Newbridge College, which was previously a boarding school for boys. The Dominicans said the past abuse there was alleged to have occurred over a 40-year period dating back to the 1950s.

The order has to date paid out €1.8 million in settlements to abuse survivors, with €714,000 paid to 10 former pupils in Newbridge College.


The Dominicans have spent a further €547,000 to cover the legal fees of all parties in the cases, it said.

The order said 27 of the 37 Irish Dominicans who had been accused of abuse were deceased, while six were no longer members of the order.

Fr Vincent Mercer, former principal of Newbridge College, was previously convicted in 2005 of sexually abusing boys in the school during the 1970s. He was convicted again in 2013 for further sexual abuse of a boy between 1986 and 1994, when he was based in Cork.

The order’s statement said it wished to “sincerely apologise to the children and young people who were abused by members of the Irish province”.

“We fully accept that this caused them long-lasting hurt and distress. It is a matter of immense regret and shame to all of us that these young people were abused while in our care,” it said.

“One of our members pleaded guilty, in three separate court cases, to sexually abusing 10 young people, seven of whom were pupils at Newbridge College. Two other members of the province were found guilty before the courts of sexual offences against five children, not involving Newbridge College.”

The Dominicans said those convicted of child abuse were no longer members of the order.

The order appealed to any survivors of abuse by its members who had not come forward to contact the religious congregation, at, and also to report the alleged abuse to Tusla, the child and family agency, and the Garda.

Meanwhile, the three Coalition party leaders met on Monday night to discuss what type of inquiry might be set up to examine allegations of abuse at schools run by the Spiritan religious order. It is understood that no decisions were taken and that the issue remains under review.

Two sources said that a full-scale inquiry into abuse at these schools and similar schools could run for anywhere from five to 15 years, a timeframe understood to have raised anxiety in the Coalition.

When asked about a scoping inquiry, such as the type carried out by Dr Gabriel Scally into the CervicalCheck controversy, one source said that the Government would be led by the wishes of the abuse victims. A meeting is to be held to discuss such issues with the victims, although it is not yet known when this will happen.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times