New historical allegations made against priests in Kerry
New historical allegations of child sex abuse by priests in the Kerry diocese have been received since a report on clerical abuse in the diocese was published just over a year ago.
The new cases relate to the 1960s, 70s and 90s, but none concern priests who are currently in active ministry in the scattered diocese of 130,000 Catholics, which also includes parts of north and west Cork.
Three new allegations of abuse have been made against two deceased priests in the diocese. Also, two third-party allegations were made against two priests, one now deceased and one a priest from another diocese.
In addition, an unspecified number of allegations were made against two priests — one deceased and one who is not active in ministry — who retired to Kerry from other dioceses.
All allegations have been referred to the gardaí and the Child and Family Agency, according to a report yesterday on behalf of Bishop Ray Browne, of Kerry.
People who have contacted the diocesan authorities have been offered support to help them deal with the consequences of the abuse.
The diocese also said action is being taken on all of the recommendations in the December 2013 report of the National Board for Safeguarding Children.
The report made eight recommendations including the need for a revision of policies; the establishment of a register of visiting and retired priests in the diocese; and the need for clear procedures for dealing with priests against whom allegations are made.
Among the initiatives taken has been the establishment of a register of 46 retired priests from other dioceses who now are resident in Kerry. Some of these priests assist in parishes.
In early 2014, all vetting files and other records have been moved from the home of the diocesan co-ordinator of vetting to diocesan premises and are now kept in a locked filing cabinet,
The December 2013 report revealed 67 allegations of child sexual abuse had been made against 21 Kerry diocesan priests since 1975, but only one priest had been convicted.
Of the eight living priests against whom allegations had been made, four had been laicised; one dismissed; one retired; one was out of ministry; and one was still in ministry, having been cleared following an investigation.
The diocese has, to date, paid around €800,000 in compensation to victims.
While the 2013 review was favourable overall to the actions being taken by the Kerry church authorities, it did make recommendations for improvements, which were accepted by Bishop Browne, who has been in charge since July 2013.
His predecessor, Bishop Bill Murphy, was commended in the review, which said cases of abuse had, in general, been appropriately managed and Bishop Murphy had met his responsibilities well.
But the review was critical of a lack of written policies and guidance on specific issues, including “whistle blowing” by clergy, or other church workers, who may have suspicions of unacceptable behaviour by colleagues.
It was also critical of the handling of some abuse cases that generally arose several years ago.
The diocese has 130 parish safeguarding personnel and a range of counselling, support and information services.