Priest named in connection with child molestation


SEANAD REPORT:A FIANNA FÁIL member was told by the chair that he was going down a dangerous route by naming a priest allegedly connected to child molestation.

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly said despite seven cases being reported to four different Garda stations between 1986 and 2008 in relation to a priest, the Director of Public Prosecutions had declined to pursue a criminal prosecution.

Senator Daly said a religious order had, however, settled a civil case in relation to this priest before it was brought to court.

There had been a failure, he said, to enforce restrictions placed upon the priest, who had had been required to inform his community of his movements.

Last year, this particular priest had been advertised in a newspaper as the spiritual director for a pilgrimage abroad to a location where he could have unsupervised access to children.

Mr Daly said he had asked Ian Elliott, of the Catholic Church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children, to carry out a review of the child protection policy of the religious order in question.

Senator Daly then named the priest to whom he was referring. He said parents needed to be aware that while there were no charges pressed, despite seven allegations reported to four different Garda stations, the religious order in question had imposed a restricted ministry order which should have controlled his access to children.

In another debate Minister for Justice Alan Shatter warned that those who were still withholding information from gardaí investigating what had gone on in our financial institutions could find themselves being charged with a criminal offence following the enactment of the Criminal Justice Bill. The Bill, which is designed to deal with white collar crime, was passed.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Denis O’Donovan asked the Minister to explain how the legislation would be helpful to investigations such as that concerning Anglo Irish Bank.

While legislation could not be retrospective, could parts of this measure be of assistance? Mr Shatter said that while a failure to provide information could not be retrospectively criminalised, those who persisted in failing to disclose it could lay themselves open to prosecution when this measure became operative.

“If there are people today who have information that they haven’t yet made available to the Garda Síochána with regard to the investigations that are taking place into our financial institutions, and if they have access, for example, to information held electronically that the gardaí don’t yet know about and if they know how to access that information, and they haven’t revealed it, I want a message to go out from this House that upon the enactment of this Bill they will be under a legal obligation to assist the gardaí in their enquiries.

“Should it emerge that they failed to do so, such individuals would be liable to criminal prosecution. This was why the Bill was so important in the context of current investigations.”