14 abuse claims in Down since 2008

Fourteen allegations of abuse have surfaced in the Diocese of Down and Connor since 2008.

14 abuse claims in Down since 2008

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCCI) has said all of these have been dealt with appropriately by the diocese.

In seven cases, the PSNI did not find sufficient evidence to prosecute and three were considered to have had a “semblance of truth”.

All seven priests remain in ministry. The ‘semblance of truth test’ is a standard set by the Catholic Church to handle cases that are not prosecuted but where there are concerns about the conduct of priests.

In the other seven cases, one person is in prison and the other six are on leave pending investigations.

Bishop Noel Treanor issued a statement welcoming the review and the fact it had endorsed the procedures adopted by the diocese.

Meanwhile in the Archdiocese of Armagh, the reviewers found that there had been allegations made against 16 priests since 1975 — nine of the accused are still alive.

These included allegations made against Fr Michael McQuillan, who had been a chaplain at a Co Armagh school. He was convicted of 40 offences against children between 1986 and 1993.

The NBSCCCI said the nature of the legacy cases in Armagh were extremely complex and many were contested by the priests involved.

Cardinal Sean Brady has been fully briefed on all of the cases.

A large number of complaints have been made against one priest who was allowed to return to ministry following a criminal investigation which resulted in no prosecutions.

The NBSCCCI said: “In relation to living priests who have been the subject of allegations, the reviewers saw evidence in these cases of notification to the civil authorities, as well as an internal Church investigation and are satisfied that the appropriate decisions were made for those priests who have remained in ministry.”

In Armagh the NSBCCCI said records relating to allegations made before 1995 were poor because of inconsistent filing and a lack of clarity around how decisions were made.

Despite improvements, the reviewers said there were still key gaps in the structures for processing complaints. There were no records of any meetings of a diocesan advisory panel on child protection taking place before 2009.

In some files there were also significant gaps in the records. But the NBSCCCI said its reviewers were reassured by the improved measures in place since 2010.

Poor records

Concern has been raised about the management of records relating to abuse allegations against priests in the Diocese of Ossory.

The NBSCCCI said that notes on some historic cases were on handwritten documents which could not be read and there were significant gaps in the accounts.

It has urged the diocese to reorganise its catalogue and to have the reports freshly typed up.

In all, there were 14 allegations made against priests in the diocese since 1975. However, even in more recent cases there was a lack of clarity on the outcome or how the diocese had dealt with them.

In one case, the former bishop decided in 2005 that there was no substance to an allegation but it was unclear how or if it was probed by the civil authorities.

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