US website adds seven names of Irish clergy to ‘abuse-tracker’ database

Irish data laws preventing full accountability for church sexual abuse, says victim group

A US-based research group, BishopAccountability.org, have released a database of convicted Irish clergy but claim that the 90 names represent only seven per cent of the total accused priests. Video: Enda O'Dowd

 

The Catholic Church’s culture of secrecy, coupled with Ireland’s “strict protection around defamation and data protection”, is making it impossible to ensure accountability for crimes of sexual abuse, a victim’s support group has said.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the BishopAccountability.org website which runs a public “abuse-tracker” of offending clergy, highlighted on Monday the Irish State and church’s continued failure in making perpetrators of sexual abuse accountable for their actions. Last week, the group launched the Irish leg of its online database which identifies 94 priests and brothers who have been convicted of sexually abusing children.

Speaking outside the former Magdalene Laundry on Sean McDermott Street on Monday, Ms Barrett Doyle announced that seven new names had been added to the database following Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland over the weekend. The names included in the database are just “a fraction” of the total number of abusers in the Republic and Northern Ireland, she said, adding that Irish data protection laws had prevented the group from adding additional names.

‘Unfinished business’

“The great unfinished business here in Ireland remains accountability; accountability of perpetrators and the accountability of the Catholic Church supervisors who enabled them,” said Ms Barrett Doyle.

“The detailed documentation of children’s agony in the major state reports has not yielded accountability; no church official has been charged with failing to report as has happened in France and Australia; no secret archives are being raided as had happened in Chile; no prosecutor is publishing names of accused clergy as in Pennsylvania. ”

Mark Vincent Healy, a survivor of sexual abuse by two Irish priests and a member of the international Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA) group, expressed relief at the decision to publish his first abuser’s name in the database. Fr Arthur Carragher, who taught Mr Healy in St Mary’s boys school in Rathmines in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was one of the seven names added to the online database on Monday. Mr Healy’s second abuser, Fr Henry Moloney, is already listed on the site.

‘Harrowing statistics’

Mr Healy, who was one of the abuse survivors to meet with Pope Francis on Saturday, said he presented the pontiff with the “harrowing statistics” of how childhood sexual abuse affects not only the long-term mental health of the victim but also their economic prospects.

Describing him as “the most extraordinary, ordinary man”, Mr Healy said the pope had failed to deliver on any of his promises to survivors of abuse. “It’s the suffering that needs to be addressed and the need to hold these people to account in our courts.”

Peter Isely, another survivor of child sexual abuse and a member of the ECA group, also criticised the pope for failing to provide solutions rather than just apologising. “He leaves but the pain and the trauma and solving this problem remains,” he said.