Order to query ex-pupils on abuse claims

SENIOR members of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart intend to interview former pupils and teachers at a Co Cork boarding school as part of its efforts to tackle ongoing allegations of sexual abuse by a former principal.

A letter from the outgoing Provincial Superior, Patrick Courtney, seen by the Irish Examiner, states that the incoming Provincial Superior, Fr Joseph McGee, will visit Coláiste an Chroí Naofa in Carraig na bhFear, 12km from Cork city, in September to begin a process where he “will personally contact and interview past and present members of staff and past pupils”.

“Fr McGee will request details of any incident of abuse which may have come to the attention of these individuals during their time at the school,” the letter says.

Senator Mark Daly last month met with the order and the chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, Ian Elliott, to discuss concerns over the handling of Fr Donncha Mac Cárthaigh’s restricted ministry.

Seven different abuse complaints were made against the former principal and Cork GAA county selector and trainer between 1986 and 2008, by six men and a woman.

In the late 1980s, he stepped aside as principal “under a cloud”, and became a career guidance counsellor at the school. In 1996, he was put onrestricted ministry.

Fr McGee will be accompanied by a member of his leadership team, and the order is confident it will “locate a substantial number of past pupils”.

A request to visit the school will formally be made by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to the school’s principal and CEIST (Catholic Education An Irish School’s Trust).

They also hope to meet with the board of management to further discuss their proposed inquiries into historic abuse at the school.

Despite having been on restricted ministry for 14 years, it was revealed that two years ago, the order let Fr Mac Cárthaigh edit a book to celebrate its centenary. Church guidelines state that when on restricted ministry a priest is not to wear his priest’s collar, but Fr Mac Cárthaigh can be seen on the cover of the book in his priest’s garb.

It has also emerged that he travelled to the US regularly and officiated at funerals, weddings and Masses in family homes, despite being forbidden to do so.

He was also a spiritual director on a pilgrimage to Fatima, and, earlier this year, travelled to Rome without the consent of his superiors.


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