VICTIMS of clerical sex abuse have dismissed as “empty” and “insincere” expressions of shame and regret by the former bishop of Cloyne Dr John Magee for the abuse that took place under his watch.
One woman described Dr Magee’s offer to meet privately with victims and their families as nothing but showmanship. “I met with him privately a number of times and my advice to other victims is: ‘don’t bother’. Go to the gardaí instead.”
Victim support group One in Four said they were dismayed by Dr Magee’s statement yesterday.
“While it appears to be an apology, he continues to justify his own position,” said One in Four chief executive Maeve Lewis.
In his statement, Dr Magee referred to the “failure of the diocese” to effectively manage allegations of child sexual abuse. However, Ms Lewis said it was very clear from the Cloyne report Dr Magee was “aware of the many allegations, while he seems to be saying now he was not aware”.
Dr Magee commented publicly for the first time since the publication of the Cloyne report which examined the handling by Church and state of allegations of clerical sex abuse. The report found Dr Magee’s response to complaints of clerical child sex abuse was “inadequate” and “inappropriate”.
Yesterday, Dr Magee re-iterated the apology he made to victims in the wake of the Cloyne report, but this time with the offer to meet with them and their families “if they felt this could help in any way”. He also apologised to the priests and people of the diocese for “not addressing the issues which confronted me”.
Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Dr Dermot Clifford last night welcomed the fact that Dr Magee had finally spoken publicly “and that he expressed his regret for what had happened and his responsibility for mistakes that were made”. Dr Clifford also welcomed Dr Magee’s re-iterated apology and his offer to meet with victims.
However, Ms Lewis warned victims considering Dr Magee’s offer that such meetings could be “quite intimidating” and she advised that they not go alone but take family or therapists with them or a representative from One in Four.
One victim expressed outrage that Dr Magee had appealed for privacy while she “would never have peace”. She also criticised Dr Magee’s decision to go into hiding rather than seek out the victims in the wake of the Cloyne report. “He said he would go down on bended knee to apologise, but why didn’t he look for our phone numbers when the report came out? I don’t find anything sincere in anything he said yesterday. He should come out for once and for all with hands up and say ‘We lied. We covered up, and we did it in the name of God’.”
Sex abuse victim Andrew Madden said Dr Magee’s statement was “empty”.
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