Bishop denies blocking inquiries

 

BISHOP Brendan Comiskey has forcefully denied obstructing any Garda, health board or other investigation of child sex abuse. He was speaking yesterday at a press conference in Wexford 12 days after his return from five months of alcoholism treatment, and a rest period, in the US.

He said he had never refused to be interviewed by the Garda, and had communicated with gardai in relation to only two complaints of sexual misconduct by priests.

"Not a single penny of diocesan funds or any other funds, such as bequests, under my care is missing," he went on.

He said six cases of clerical child sex abuse had come to his attention since he became Bishop of Ferns in 1984. He admitted he had failed to pass one of these to the Garda.

The investigation into allegations against the late parish priest of Monageer, Father Jim Grennan, in 1988, were handled "by the book" and he had co operated fully with the statutory authorities, he said. It was "a mystery" that the case was not proceeded with.

Last night there appeared to be a contradiction between the accounts by Dr Comiskey and by the then local chief superintendent, Mr James Doyle, of the Garda investigation into the Monageer case.

Mr Doyle, now retired, said he had only one conversation with the bishop to inform him that verbal complaints had been made about Father Grenaan. He insisted, however, that he had nothing more to do with the investigation. Dr Comiskey had said the chief superintendent was fully aware of the details of the investigation.

Mr Garry O'Halloran of the South Eastern Health Board, who has strongly criticised Dr Comiskey for his handling of sex abuse allegations, said yesterday it seemed that "just about every appropriate person in authority in Wexford" had been aware of the Monageer allegations, and that they had been substantiated, yet nothing had been done about them.