Single priest convicted in Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, report states

Bishop Colm O'Reilly

In the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, just one priest (not pictured) has been convicted of clerical sex abuse over the last 35 years, auditors revealed today.

The review, which examined records across Longford and parishes in surrounding counties from 1975, found:

* Allegations were made against 13 clerics;

* 14 cases were reported to gardaí, with one suspect never made known to diocesan officials, and nine were referred to the local health board;

* Just one serving priest was alive at the time of the review, one had left the priesthood and 12 were dead. Nine of those had died before any allegation was made;

* The only priest who had been convicted of an offence against a child has since died;

* Two clerics who were not of the diocese but still reside there were subject to allegations arising from their past ministry.

Bishop Colm O'Reilly said he was conscious people who suffered because of wrongdoing by church personnel will be affected by having to think again about an experience which pained them deeply.

"It is my hope that this pain will be lessened by the knowledge that their lives can move into a new phase when some at least of the past can be left behind," he said.

"I want to express my sorrow at how they have been made to suffer."

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) commended Bishop O'Reilly and his team for how they responded to complainants and their co-operation with reviewers.

The watchdog made 10 recommendations including that the bishop hold bi-annual meetings with Health Service Executive staff and gardaí and that he consider appointing a female lay person to a supporting role.

Bishop O'Reilly said he was satisfied good policies and procedures for safeguarding children were in place in the diocese.

"However, I believe that there will always be need for reappraisal and revision," he added.

There are more than 40 parishes in the diocese, which spans parts of Longford, Leitrim, Westmeath, Offaly, Cavan, Roscommon and Sligo.

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