325 abuse allegations made against 141 priests and brothers since 1941; eight convictions

325 abuse allegations made against 141 priests and brothers since 1941; eight convictions

A total of 325 abuse allegations were made against 141 priests or brothers in Ireland since 1941, resulting in eight criminal convictions.

The figures are contained in the latest tranche of reports by the National Board for the Protection of Children which were published this afternoon.

The board published 43 reports today, having examined eight male religious orders (the Jesuits, Camillians, Capuchins, Carmelites, Cistercians, Sacred Heart Fathers, Slalesians and Rosminians) and 35 smaller orders of nuns.

The complaints were made between 1941 and 2003.

The board found that there were at least 22 cases involving the Jesuit order which the order failed to notify to the Gardaí in the last 40 years. In those cases, there were suspicions or concerns, but the cases did not meet the threshold for reporting to Gardaí.

Some 6% of the priests or brothers with complaints against them were handed criminal convictions.

CEO of the Board for Safeguarding Children Teresa Devlin said: "It takes someone who has been harmed a very long time to come forward…and quite often when they come forward they do not wish to make a statement to the Gardaí.

"If the Gardaí do not have a direct statement, they can't undertake an investigation (and) even when they do, the burden of proof is very, very high."

The reports did say that there has been significant improvement in child safeguarding since 2009, however they added that incomplete records in files have made the assessment of current situations difficult.

Theresa Merrigan from Connect Counselling is urging anyone affected by the reports to contact support services.

"(These reports) normally trigger people who may have received support from us before," she said, "but also other people who may never have spoken about their experiences."

The Jesuit Order said in a statement: "We are ever conscious of the terrible damage inflicted on people who are victims of abuse, and we recognise the importance of ongoing review of our child protection procedures, and of the handling of allegations.

"We wish to unreservedly apologise to any person who has been abused under our care. It is a cause of great sadness to us that anybody was ever abused by a Jesuit."

Read the full reports here.

**Those affected by these reports can call Connect Counselling on 1800-477-477 (Republic of Ireland), 00800-477-477-77 (UK and Northern Ireland) and 00353-(0)-1-865-7495 (Outside RoI and UK)**

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