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Priest’s one-sided Christian act

An open letter to Fr Seán Sheehy, PP, Castlegregory, Co Kerry

I READ with anger the report (Irish Examiner, December 17) concerning the Danny Foley sexual assault case and in particular your comments.

May I firstly address the issue of the character reference you provided for Mr Foley. As I do not know Mr Foley I can only rely on your assessment that he was “a man without an abusive bone in his body”.

However, this assessment is accurate only up to the time Mr Foley committed a sexual assault.

You said you did not know the victim, but had you known her you “certainly would have shook her hand as well”.

As you had provided a character reference for Mr Foley I can appreciate why you may not have wished to approach the victim in person, but it would have been possible to express your support for her through a third party, should you have wished.

You said you shook Mr Foley’s hand in court as you wished to “support him and let him know he was not alone”.

A Christian act, Fr Sheehy, but while you were supporting the perpetrator of a crime the victim was sitting only feet away.

Was she not deserving of equal, if not more, support. You are quoted as saying: “My Christian responsibility was to this person that I knew and to the person who is the object of what I call this extremely harsh sentence”.

I disagree, Fr Sheehy. As a Christian human being your responsibility was to support both the victim and the perpetrator.

You complain about the harshness of Mr Foley’s sentence, but never forget that his victim’s life has changed irrevocably. She has received a life sentence.

I do not belive sex offenders should be shunned.

However I believe that whether someone is acting in the capacity of a spiritual adviser, neighbour or friend of a convicted sex offender they have a moral obligation to make the offender aware of the seriousness of their crime and the impact it has had on the victim.

As always, the victim is lost in all of this.

To this brave woman I say thank you for having the courage to fight for justice and don’t forget there are many, many people who support you and wish you well.

Elaine Kelleher

Hillside Road




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