Abuse victims anger over interview comments

CLERICAL sex abuse victims were angered by weekend claims that a diocese rocked by scandals has dealt with cases “expeditiously and well.”

The comments were made by Mike Murphy, the co-ordinator of child protection policies for the Diocese of Ferns.

The local businessman made the remark in the course of a panel discussion on South East Radio on Saturday morning about a new code of practice for priests, volunteers and community workers in the Diocese aimed at stamping out abuse.

Pat Jackman, who was abused by a boy by the late Fr Sean Fortune, said any suggestion that abuse cases were dealt with expeditiously were clearly not true.

"I've been waiting 22 years for justice. If that's what they call expeditious, then they'd better go and look up the proper meaning of it.

"I was waiting 20 years to hear something from this Diocese. It took taking part in the Suing the Pope documentary for me to even get official recognition from the diocese.

"It was 16 months ago that I had my first direct communication with the Diocese and that was after my father reported the abuse to the Church the week after I was abused. I would really love to see their definition of expeditious," the Wexford man said.

Mr Murphy said in the course of the Saturday morning interview he was optimistic that the new code of conduct will help stop the problems of the past and that the Church can look forward with optimism to the future.

"I think the problems of the past that have surfaced have been, in my opinion, dealt with expeditiously and well by the diocese.

"I think the follow up actions and procedures there mean that if there should be a reoccurrence in society again, and society is not perfect, it will be dealt with efficiently," he said.

Support services for victims of clerical sexual abuse are now being offered through Sr Helen O'Riordan. Sr Helen said those who want to make complaints do not have to do so within their own parish.

They can go to a priest in another diocese or phone her on the special helpline. Those who want to report abuse are being urged to contact another nominated member of clergy, Fr Denis Brennan.

He has promised to deal with all reports brought to his attention in confidence and expeditiously.

The head of the support group OnInFour Colm O'Gorman, said it is critical that the code not just be followed but implemented in full. "

Anything which puts in place meaningful protection and procedures to prevent abuse has to be welcome. Bishop Eamonn Walsh's appointment fulfilled the Church's own guidelines on having a named support person.

A programme such as this has to be welcome. But it also needs to be of a standard which is appropriate to the needs of the people. This has not been the case in the past," Mr O'Gorman said.

The support person for people affected by child sexual abuse involving clergy is Sr. Helen O' Riordan. She can be contacted at 053-74792.

Any person wishing to make a complaint of sexual abuse involving a priest of the Diocese of Ferns is asked to contact the Diocesan Delegate, Fr Denis Brennan at 053-34123.

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