Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Irish police to probe 100 new cases of clerical child abuse
Gardai to probe 100 new cases of abuse
Wave of calls to hotline in the wake of Ryan report horrors

By Tom Brady, Senan Molony and John Cooney
Wednesday July 22 2009

GARDAI investigating allegations against clerical child abusers are now pursuing almost 100 fresh complaints.

The new lines of inquiry emerged from the telephone "hotline" set up by gardai in the wake of the publication of the Ryan report in May.

The breakthrough in the garda study of the Ryan findings was revealed last night as Justice Minister Dermot Ahern received a copy of the report on child abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.

That report contains around 450 cases of abuse and will be referred by the minister to Attorney General Paul Gallagher for his advice on publication.

The dedicated Ryan contact line was established for anyone who wanted to provide information arising out of the findings.

So far, the special garda team has received about 140 calls. Some of the callers wanted details of the progress made on complaints that had already been filed.

But senior officers disclosed last night that in almost 100 other cases, they had opened new lines of inquiry and those complaints were now being actively followed up.

An estimated 60pc of the fresh complaints involve sexual abuse of children by members of religious orders while the rest refer to physical assaults.

Gardai will prepare a file on each individual investigation for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who will determine if criminal charges should be brought against the alleged abuser. Some of the clerics named in allegations received on the "hotline" are now dead.

Officers said they were conscious of the historic nature of many of the allegations and were anxious to complete their inquiries as quickly as possible. They hope to have sent files to the DPP on a substantial percentage of their inquiries by the late autumn.

The decision to set up the "hotline" was made by Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy following discussions with Justice Minister Dermot Ahern.

The phone number is 01 6663612 and is being manned during office hours from Mondays to Fridays. Interested persons can also write to the Offices of the Assistant Commissioner, National Support Services, Harcourt Square, Dublin 2, marking the envelopes, "Ryan report".

Meanwhile, Mr Ahern indicated yesterday evening that the Dublin Archdiocese report was likely to be referred to the High Court. "It will be up to the court to decide whether to refer it to the DPP, the Garda Commissioner, or anyone else. That's laid out in the legislation," the minister said.


He pointed out that if it were possible to publish the entire report without lessening its contents, it would be sent automatically to the gardai.

But under the legislation he had to follow certain procedures as the report might contain material prejudicial to criminal proceedings.

"If there is anything of that nature in it, I would obviously have to discuss it with the Attorney General, and if there is anything prejudicial, we would have to ask the High Court for a direction, pending publication," he added.

It was his desire to publish the report as soon as possible but he did not want to do anything that "would cause people to get off, if they were supposed to be brought before the courts".

One of the most notorious serial priest paedophiles expected to be named in the Dublin Archdiocese report is the late Fr Noel Reynolds, who abused more than 100 children.

He had access to generations of children since 1967 when he was appointed secretary of the Diocesan Commission on Religious Instruction in Vocational Schools, and later as a Diocesan Inspector of Primary Schools.

He was appointed administrator on Inishbofin island, off the Galway coast, in 1984. Serious complaints about his behaviour with children go back to 1995 when he was parish priest in Glendalough, Co Wicklow, but he was not removed from there until two years later when he was appointed chaplain to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.

After the 'Prime Time' programme, 'The Sins of the Cardinal', Cardinal Desmond Connell, apologised to the hospital for not informing the authorities there of previous complaints.

- Tom Brady, Senan Molony and John Cooney


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