Fresh allegations of child sexual abuse have been made against four priests of the Archdiocese of Dublin in the past 12 months.
The archdiocese’s Child Safeguarding and Protection Service (CSPS) revealed a suspicion of similar abuse had also been raised against a fifth cleric.
All priests against whom allegations were made were not previously the subject of older complaints. All have either been stood down from ministry or are deceased.
New figures provided by the archdiocese also reveal that more than 7% of all priests who have served in the country’s most populous archdiocese over the past 70 years have been the subject of allegations of child sexual abuse.
Diocesan records have documented a total of 98 priests against whom allegations have been made from a total of 1,350 clerics who have served in Dublin during that period.
An analysis of allegations against all suspected clerics shows that 84% of them occurred between 1960 and 1989. Only 1% of those priests are alleged to have abused since 2000.
One-third of all cases are alleged to have happened in the 1980s, 2% in the 1940s, 4% in the 1950s, 23% in the 1960s, 27% in the 1970s, 9% in the 1990s and 1% in the last decade.
The archdiocese also conducted a review of 10 serial abusers against whom a total of 356 allegations were made, including 97 against one individual priest. Five of the ten have received a criminal conviction for their crimes.
Two of the serial abusers are deceased and have no criminal conviction. Two were dismissed and another two laicised, while four remain out of ministry but under the supervision of the archdiocese.
The CSPS report said 199 civil actions have been taken against 46 priests of the diocese, of which 64 are ongoing. To date, the archdiocese has paid out €10.3m in settlements plus an extra €4.9m in legal costs. A total of 10 priests or former priests of the archdiocese have been convicted in the criminal courts.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said the analysis of serial offenders showed what could happen when allegations of abuse were not handled in the right manner.
“The figures speak for themselves and show the amount of damage that can be caused,” remarked Dr Martin.
He stressed that all allegations and suspicions of child sex abuse were now reported to both the Garda and the Health Service Executive.
Dr Martin claimed the majority of new complaints received in the past year related to alleged abuse which had occurred before 2000.
However, he expressed concern about the difficulty which arose when an alleged victim was reluctant to report the abuse to gardaí, given the Church’s own duty to report the matter to the civil authorities.
Dr Martin admitted that he had to make “a prudent judgment” in a small number of cases to restore a priest to ministry in the absence of a Garda inquiry.
CSPS director Andrew Fagan said its annual report was a vital exercise in keeping the public informed and to reassure them of the archdiocese’s ongoing efforts to maintain high standards of child protection.
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