BBC programme claims diocese ignored abuse

THE Donegal village of Annagry and surrounds will be known to many parents only by the quaint postcards from their children attending the Irish language summer schools in the area.

With a population of just 202, the summer influx of young language students was no doubt a welcome bonus to local traders.

But after watching a BBC programme, aired last night, many parents will be wondering whether former local priest, Fr Eugene Greene, 73, had a more sinister reason for welcoming the annual influx of children to his area.

Fr Greene was jailed for 12 years in 2000 after pleading guilty to 41 sample charges of sexual assault against children throughout Donegal between 1965 and 1982.

He was charged with more than 100 counts of sexual assault, mainly against altar boys who said they were subjected to repeated assault and buggery.

But now, following allegations made by the BBC’s Spotlight programme last night, Fr Greene, and the way the Co Donegal Raphoe Diocese dealt with him, has become the latest scandal to hit the besieged church.

The programme accused the diocese of failing to deal adequately with allegations of clerical child sex abuse in 1995.

According to the documentary, Bishop of Raphoe, Philip Boyce, was told in 1995 about complaints against Fr Eugene Greene.

Fr Greene remained in active ministry until 1998, and came under Garda investigation only after complaints by the priest that he was being blackmailed.

A garda investigation into the alleged blackmail turned into the largest sex abuse investigation in Donegal.

Last night, Bishop Boyce denied he knew of the allegations against Fr Greene:

“I was ordained Bishop in October 1995. Some time later, I was made aware of rumours about Fr Greene ... I was unable to identify any complaint of child sexual abuse against him.”

However, the BBC programme revealed that concerns about Fr Greene were raised as far back as 1971. The programme, Sins of Omission, maintained that over the next three decades, the church received complaints but never acted.

It claimed the parish priest and principal of the primary school in Annagry had contacted Bishop Boyce in November 1995 to discuss rumours and allegations circulating about Fr Greene.

It stated senior priests were informed of complaints against Fr Greene but the complaints were never recorded in diocesan files.

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