Ex priest in court on sex abuse charges

A former priest in the Diocese of Ferns today made his first appearance in court to face 35 counts of indecent assault.

A former priest in the Diocese of Ferns today made his first appearance in court to face 35 counts of indecent assault.

James Doyle, who was curate at Clonard Church in Wexford from 1979 to 1990, is alleged to have indecently assaulted two young boys in the town between 1981 and 1986.

The accused, who left the priesthood in 2004, appeared before Wexford District Court where the case was sent forward for trial.

Garda John Sheehy said he arrested Mr Doyle at 2.15pm on August 14 and took him to Wexford Garda Station where he was charged under section 62 of the 1861 Offences against the Person Act.

He told the Judge Donnacha O’Buachalla Mr Doyle replied no comment to each charge.

The Book of Evidence was served at the short hearing and the case adjourned.

There were no objections to the defendant, who wore a navy blazer, dark coloured trousers, blue shirt and a maroon striped tie, remaining on station bail.

Solicitor Kieran Conway said his client faced very serious charges, some dating back between 20 and 25 years, and the case may have some significant difficulties in terms of time delay.

An application for legal aid on grounds that the accused was unemployed was granted.

The court heard that Mr Doyle currently works voluntarily in a centre for recovering addicts in Dublin.

The Diocese of Ferns has been made aware of the charges that were brought against the former Catholic priest.

His pending court battle comes almost a year after the release of the disturbing Ferns Report, which revealed more than 100 allegations of child and sexual abuse against 21 priests in the diocese between 1962 and 2002.

Six of the priests died before the accusations could be made against them.

The inquiry found key figures within the Diocese of Ferns placed the interests of individual priests ahead of those of the community which they served. The report also criticised the garda handling of complaints of abuse, with some allegations having never been recorded.

Victims, health board officials, gardaí and church members were all interviewed for the 271-page report.

Following its release in October 2005, Dublin’s Rape Crisis Centre reported a massive increase in calls to its counselling helpline, many from elderly people living outside the capital.

The 56-year-old, of Clonard, Co Wexford, will reappear before Wexford Circuit Criminal Court in October.

More in this section