Accused priest given victim’s file

CLAIMS that the child protection delegate in the diocese of Cloyne handed over a confidential file containing allegations of abuse to the priest at the centre of the allegations are being investigated by the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) is seeking a meeting with Fr Bill Bermingham, who was appointed child protection delegate in 2008 after the diocese’s dangerous child protection record was made public. Fr Bermingham was hailed as part of a new regime where child protection would comply with the best possible standards.

It has emerged Fr Bill Bermingham took an informal statement of allegations of abuse from a woman last summer. He later gave the statement to a priest at the centre of the allegations before the priest was questioned by gardaí. A number of other priests also saw the statement.

When the woman became aware Fr Bermingham handed over the file, she made a complaint to the NBSC earlier this year.

The Catholic Church’s clerical abuse helpline, Faoiseamh, has been informed of the woman’s complaint as has Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and victim support group, One in Four.

A spokesman for the NBSC confirmed they had been “made aware” of the issue and were investigating it. Fr Bermingham has not responded to requests for an interview in recent days while a spokesman for the Cloyne diocese said they would not comment on anything relating to child protection until the Dublin Archdiocese report is published in the autumn.

One in Four chief executive Maeve Lewis said she was aware of and “horrified by” the actions of the diocese but she could not comment further as the victim was a client of the group.

“This action may not have broken specific Church protocol but it is a horrific betrayal of a victim,” said Ms Lewis.

Fr Bill Bermingham was put into the child protection delegate position by former Bishop of Cloyne John Magee as part of his efforts in late 2008 to improve the diocese’s handling of abuse complaints after they were described as “inadequate and in some respects dangerous”.

The victim said: “Nothing has changed whatsoever in the past 18 months despite claims to the contrary.

“I feel like I have been run over by a number of trains in the way I have been treated by the Church in the past year.

“I am so angry and appalled any information about me could be passed on to anyone else. Yet I am told no criminal law was broke. Where is the justice for the likes of us?”

Clerical abuse victims in Cloyne have also expressed dismay they have not received copies of their evidence to the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation. It’s understood some members of the clergy have already received details of their submissions.

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