Mass uproar: priest gets garda protection

A PARISH priest was placed under garda protection following verbal assaults on him during Mass in a Co Wexford village.

Members of the congregation were angry over revelations about the priest’s predecessor in the Ferns Report into clerical child sex abuse in the diocese.

Fr John Sinnott, who took over the parish of Ballindaggin from deceased paedophile Canon Martin Clancy in 1992, took the brunt of the outbursts despite his innocence.

“I knew there would be some hassle. I know people are very hurt,” he said.

Trouble first flared for the 68-year-old priest during Saturday night’s vigil Mass in St Colman’s Church after he read a pastoral letter from Bishop Eamonn Walsh.

A small number of parishioners interrupted Fr Sinnott and demanded he tell all he knew about the activities of his predecessor.

A visibly upset Fr Sinnott said he was as shocked as they were to learn of the abuses committed by Canon Clancy, his superior for over 20 years.

Canon Clancy, who was named in the Ferns Report as a serial abuser of young children who fathered a child by a 14-year-old girl.

The outburst divided the packed congregation, the majority of whom showed their support for the beleaguered priest.

However, yesterday morning Fr Sinnott was again interrupted by a member of the congregation who demanded he make a full disclosure.

Gardaí maintained a discreet presence around his home for a time after the service ended. Fr Sinnott said he was not aware of the garda action as he had left the village at lunchtime.

It is now expected Bishop Walsh will visit St Colman’s next weekend to address the congregation.

Further evidence that the Ferns Report has fuelled rather than quelled public disquiet emerged in the West Cork town of Clonakilty where a curate refused to read out the letter Bishop of Cork and Ross John Buckley wrote to his parishioners.

Fr Gerard Galvin ignored the direction to all priests in the diocese to read the letter because he said it was an inadequate response.

Details of the extent of the abuse crisis continued to emerge yesterday after Bishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary, confirmed the diocese had records of 19 accused priests. Known cases in 25 of the 26 Catholic dioceses now number 266.

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