No return for 5 priests cleared of allegations by gardaí
on 06/09/2012 00:00:00
Ger Crowley, director of safeguarding children in the diocese, said the standard of proof required by Garda authorities in criminal cases was one of proof beyond reasonable doubt. However, the Church's criteria was based on a child-centred standard assessing the complaint and the complainant.
Diocese administrator Fr Tony Mullins: "No criminal prosecutions were brought, but it was decided on looking at our own procedures, these men would not return to any ministry."
Three other priests who were also investigated were returned to ministry, he said. "Allegations were raised against these men. They stood aside from ministry during the period of investigation. Once all had been cleared, and in consultation with the gardaí, the HSE, and the national board, they were restored to full ministry without any restrictions."
Fr Mullins said there was no active investigation by the Church, the gardaí, or the HSE into any priest in the diocese.
The report found that 45 complaints were made against 26 priests in Limerick. Of these complaints, 22 could not be pursued because in some instances the accused were dead and in other cases the persons making the complaint would not come forward.
The gardaí decided no action should be taken in 34 complaints referred to them. The report is critical of the late Bishop Jeremiah Newman, whose practice regarding allegations "was very poor and in our view, in one case, potentially dangerous".
The report, which does not name Newman, states: "There is documentary evidence relating to a former bishop [Newman], whilst apparently having knowledge of a priest's abusive behaviour in England, giving faculties to him to minister in Limerick, where it is believed he may have gone on to abuse again."
Newman's successor, Bishop Donal Murray, who resigned over criticism of him in the Murphy report when he served in Dublin, is praised for his work in Limerick.
Dr Murray welcomed the review's publication: "I am pleased that the text of the review has been published in full by the diocese. I am particularly pleased that the report shows excellent practice in Limerick today and recognises the competence of personnel involved in case management and safeguarding.
"The diocese continues to improve its safeguarding practices in the light of the lessons of the past and the guidance of the National Board."
Compensation paid out to victims in the diocese was at the lower end of the 26 dioceses, with the only payment in the past six months totalling €323,000 including legal costs.