Garda ‘failed in duty’ to properly handle Cloyne abuse claims

Gsoc says taking action against two members would be moot, as both now retired

An Garda Síochána failed in its duty to investigate allegations of child sexual abuse made by two women against a priest in the Cloyne diocese, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) has found.

The allegations were made in the mid 1990s and related to incidents that occurred in the late 1960s.

Gsoc said it decided taking action against the relevant gardaí was “moot” as they are now retired and no longer amenable to the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations for Neglect of Duty.

The finding relates to the Cloyne report, published in July 2011, which investigated the handling of clerical child sexual abuse allegations there by church and State authorities. Chapter 10 indicated that gardaí had not acted on information they had in relation to allegations of sexual abuse by a Cloyne priest.


The Gsoc investigation into this, beginning in March 2012, set out to establish whether it might involve an offence by gardaí or if it would justify disciplinary proceedings.

The Cloyne report provided pseudonyms for the victims, Nia and Oifa, respectively, and the priest as Fr Corin. In Nia’s case, despite her complaint of alleged sexual abuse being referred by Cloyne diocese to Macroom Garda station in 1996, “no investigation was directed, or conducted, by the receiving garda.”

Oifa made similar allegations concerning the priest to gardaí at Henry Street in Limerick, but there was no further action. Her statement was taken by a female garda at the request of a colleague, since retired.

Lack of adherence

Gsoc found that in both cases “no formal garda investigations took place” and this was “mostly the result of a lack of adherence to procedures and processes. There were also lapses in the creation and proper retention of documents.”

While there was no evidence in either case that what “may have constituted a criminal offence” on the part of relevant gardaí took place, “some actions may have justified disciplinary proceedings”.

In the Macroom case it was clear “that the then District Officer was the recipient of a complaint of historical child sexual abuse” and that he “did not ensure a formal investigation of the complaints referred to him.

“His actions may have amounted to a Neglect of Duty under the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations. However, as he is retired, he is no longer subject to such regulations,” Gsoc said.

In the Limerick case it found “the garda at Henry Street who requested his female colleague to take a statement may have committed an act, contrary to the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations, amounting to a Neglect of Duty.

“The evidence showed that a crime was reported to him but he did not report that crime formally to his superiors. However, as he is retired, he is no longer subject to such regulations.”

It found the female garda was still serving but that “our investigation does not reveal any evidence that she acted contrary to the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations.”

Systems failures

In general Gsoc concluded “there were failures of systems and individuals.” The fact the existence of the allegations was known to different gardaí at Marcoom and Henry Street in Limerick, and that they were not investigated fully, “indicates that the Garda Síochána as an organisation failed in its duty.”

It concludedthat updated recommendations by the Garda Inspectorate on handling such cases, “if followed, should mitigate the risk of a repeat of this unsatisfactory set of circumstances.”

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times