St John of God order reports allegations against former principal to Garda

Br Aidan Clohessy ‘still worked with children in Africa’ after Irish sex abuse claims

St John of God allegations: Br Aidan Clohessy was head of St Augustine’s School in Blackrock, Co Dublin

St John of God allegations: Br Aidan Clohessy was head of St Augustine’s School in Blackrock, Co Dublin

 

The St John of God order has said it has told the Garda Síochána about new allegations of child abuse against a former school principal who subsequently went to work with children in Africa.

Br Aidan Clohessy was head of St Augustine’s, a school for boys with special needs in Blackrock, Co Dublin, from 1970 until 1993, when he was relocated to Malawi. The first serious child-abuse allegation was made against him in 1985; two new claims by former St Augustine’s pupils emerged as late as this week, a newspaper report said on Sunday.

The report claimed that up to 20 allegations were made against Br Clohessy up to 2014, and that when the State established the Residential Institutions Redress Board, in 2002, payouts were made to Irish accusers of Br Clohessy but he continued to work with children in Africa after that time. It also alleged that he had converted a garage at his home to house boys who had been on the streets.

Irish journalists were brought to Mzuzu, Malawi’s third-largest city, in 2010 to see the work of the Tipperary-born brother, who had established an array of mental and other health services for some of the most vulnerable people there, including prisoners.

“The order reiterates its unreserved apology”

The St John of God Order said in a statement: “While the order cannot comment on individual cases or on cases arising from unsubstantiated reporting, it is responding in accordance with its safeguarding policies and procedures and has reported the allegations to the relevant authorities and will co-operate as required.”

The order said it was reviewed in Ireland by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in December 2015 and had fully co-operated. “Up to 2012, the order fully accepts that its responses were not what they should have been in the reporting and management of cases.” All the allegations reviewed by the safeguarding board were reported to the Garda Síochána and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

“The St John of God Order reiterates its unreserved apology to any individual who has suffered any form of abuse while in its care,” the statement said. The order added that it had “endeavoured to respond to and appropriately support any individual who has been hurt during their time in the care of the order” and that it “would urge anyone who may have suffered abuse or who has a concern to come forward, or to contact the relevant authorities”.