THE first complaint of sexual abuse against the former principal of Carrignavar College and Cork GAA selector, Fr Donncha Mac Cárthaigh, was investigated by his brother, who was then the head of his order in Ireland.
The complaint was lodged against Fr Donncha in 1986. In his statement to the Seanad, using Dáil privilege, Senator Mark Daly revealed how this initial inquiry was headed by his brother, the then provincial superior of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Fr Ciarán Mac Cárthaigh.
No suggestion has been made of impropriety on the part of Fr Ciarán.
Within a number of years of the complaint, Fr Donncha had stepped aside “under a cloud” from his post as principal, and was installed by the order as a career and guidance counsellor, where he had further access to children.
Six more complaints against Fr Donncha were made over the next 12 years and, in 1996, he was put on restricted ministry.
However, it has emerged that Fr Donncha con-celebrated wedding masses as recently as 2005, another violation of restricted ministry guidelines, and that he wears a priest’s collar — even though Church guidelines on restricted ministry state “you are requested to refrain from being identified as a Roman Catholic priest”.
Yesterday, the National Board for Safeguarding Children confirmed it is investigating the order’s child protection policy and handling of abuse complaints.
Fr Donncha was well known in Cork GAA circles as a selector with the Cork minor football team between 1991 and 1993. He was also involved in training under-16 county football teams and was a selector when Cork won the 1981 All-Ireland title.
Mr Daly has harshly criticised the order’s handling of Fr Donncha’s restricted ministry — stating that he travelled to Fatima and Rome in the past two years without receiving permission from the order. On the Fatima trip, he was described as “spiritual director”.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Alan Shatter criticised the Fianna Fáil senator’s decision to use Seanad privilege to name Fr Donncha.
“It was completely inappropriate that an individual who can’t answer for themselves… should be simply pilloried in the Seanad,” said Mr Shatter.
Yesterday, the Irish Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart apologised to all abused by members of their order.
“Persons who have allegations made against them have been taken out of active ministry and are subject to restrictions in regard to access and travel,” it said.
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