Timeline Ireland


How The Story Of Abuse In Catholic Church Institutions Emerged


Insurance taken out by dioceses around the country to cover them against allegations of clerical child sex abuse.

The State publishes its first set of guidelines on child abuse.


Desmond Connell appointed Archbishop of Dublin.


Irish Catholic Church establishes internal committee (chaired by Bishop of Ossory Laurence Forristal) to assess legal implications for Irish priests of child abuse revelations in the future. No Irish case has yet been made public.


JUNE– The scandal breaks. Fr Brendan Smyth (right) is sentenced to four years in prison for abuse of children in Northern Ireland.

OCTOBER– Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference refuses to comment on reports that two Kerry priests were removed from their duties on foot of allegations of child sexual abuse.

NOVEMBER– Government falls over divisions between coalition partners Fianna Fáil and Labour over attorney general’s handling of extradition requests for Fr Brendan Smyth to Northern Ireland.


APRIL– Andrew Madden is the first victim of clerical child sex abuse to go public. The Irish Press reports that he has received a compensation payment in respect of his abuse as a child.

MAY– Archbishop Desmond Connell announces that the archdiocese has never paid compensation to any victim of clerical child abuse. He later explains that the money used to compensate Andrew Madden was a “loan” from the archdiocese to Ivan Payne.

JUNE– A Dublin priest receives 12-month sentence for child sex abuse; Belfast priest Daniel Curran sentenced to seven years for child sex abuse. A number of other priests charged with abuse during following months.

SEPTEMBER– RTÉ Prime Timeprogramme names Ivan Payne as abuser of Andrew Madden. Archbishop Connell threatens to sue over suggestions that he facilitated the compensation payment to Andrew. No case is ever taken.

OCTOBERThe Irish Timesreports that another Dublin priest paid £50,000 compensation to a man he abused as a child.

NOVEMBER– Bishops issue fullest apology to date. Wexford priest Fr Sean Fortune charged with child sex abuse.


JANUARY– Bishops publish new guidelines on child sex abuse cases – The Framework Document, otherwise known as ‘the green book’.


JUNE– A Dublin priest received an 18-month jail sentence for sexually abusing a young girl during the 1970s.

JULY– Fr Brendan Smyth jailed in Dublin for 12 years for abusing children south of the Border.


FEBRUARY– Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announces that mandatory reporting of child sex abuse will be introduced within lifetime of current government. (To date, this has still not happened.)

JUNE– Irish priest Fr Patrick Maguire (Columban) jailed in London for child abuse (18 months).

– Fr Ivan Payne jailed for sexual abuse of eight young boys. His two-year sentence is criticised for being too light.

JULY– Fr Gus Griffin (Holy Ghost Fathers) sentenced to seven years for abusing young boys.

– Fr Thomas Naughton sentenced to three years for abusing four young altar boys.


MARCH– Fr Sean Fortune commits suicide on the eve of his trial on multiple charges of child abuse.

JUNE– Pope John Paul II rejects any linkage between child sexual abuse and priestly celibacy.


SEPTEMBER– Retired judge Gillian Hussey appointed by hierarchy to chair Church’s Child Protection Committee. Audit of all dioceses announced.


MARCH– BBC television broadcasts Suing the Pope on the abuse of boys in the Ferns diocese by Fr Sean Fortune.

APRIL– Bishop of Ferns Brendan Comiskey resigns in response to evidence that he covered up child sex abuse in his diocese.

– Government announces establishment of independent inquiry into child abuse in the Ferns diocese.

JUNE– Maynooth trustees announce inquiry into allegations of improper behaviour by its former vice-president, Msgr Micheál Ledwith.

OCTOBER– RTÉ’s Prime Timebroadcasts Cardinal Secretson the handling by a number of bishops of clerical child sex abuse allegations in the archdiocese of Dublin.

NOVEMBER– Government pledges to establish full independent judicial inquiry into Dublin archdiocese’s handling of abuse allegations.

DECEMBER– Hierarchy disbands its own national audit committee.


JANUARY– Mervyn Rundle, abused by Fr Thomas Naughton, receives one of largest settlements to date, reported to be more than € 300,000.

MAY– Diarmuid Martin named as successor to Desmond Connell as Archbishop of Dublin.


APRIL– Cardinal Desmond Connell steps down as Archbishop of Dublin.


OCTOBER– Ferns Report is published, detailing extensive child abuse and cover-up.

NOVEMBER– Judge Yvonne Murphy appointed to head up Commission of Investigation into the Dublin archdiocese.


JANUARY– Cardinal Connell seeks to refuse access by the Commission of Investigation to over 5,000 documents which he claims are confidential. He eventually drops his challenge.

MARCH– Bishop Magee of Cloyne steps aside from his duties after it is revealed he did not follow proper child protection guidelines. Government extends remit of Dublin Commission of Investigation to examine the diocese of Cloyne.


MAY– Publication of Ryan report on widespread abuse of children in Ireland’s institution.

NOVEMBER– Murphy report published