Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bishop of Limerick amongst those criticised

Bishop of Limerick amongst those criticised

ELAINE EDWARDS
Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray was among the former auxiliary bishops who dealt “badly” with allegations of child sex abuse in the Dublin diocese.

Bishop Murray served in the role from 1982 to 1996.

The commission was critical, in particular, of Bishop Murray’s handling of complaints about Fr Tom Naughton.

In June this year, Naughton pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault in relation to a complainant from the Wicklow parish of Valleymount, just as the commission’s report was being finalised.

The commission said it was aware of complaints of child sexual abuse against Naughton by more than 20 named people. “There are suspicions in respect of many more. He has twice been convicted of child sexual abuse.

Naughton was first appointed to Aughrim Street parish in Dublin in April 1976 and then to Valleymount in 1980. He was later transferred to Donnycarney, where he committed some of his more serious assaults against Mervyn Rundle, an 11-year-old altar boy. Following a course of therapy in Stroud in the UK in 1986, he was transferred to the parish of Ringsend. Despite his background, he was given responsibility for some work in schools.

In 1983, two parishioners from Valleymount expressed concerns to Bishop Murray about Fr Naughton’s behaviour, claiming he was “too close to the altar boys”.

Bishop Murray told the commission the two men wanted Fr Naughton removed from the parish. He said the men refused to be specific with him and that they were not suggesting that there was anything wrong going on.

The bishop told the commission he was “uneasy” and was afraid the complaints could involve “inappropriate or even abusive activity with children”. The parish priest at the time investigated the complaints and concluded they were unfounded.

The commission said: “The type of investigation carried out is not chronicled in the files and would appear to have been totally inadequate even by the standards of the time.”

In a statement on the Valleymount abuse, issued in 2002, Bishop Murray said he was very aware that if he had derived “more information from the various interviews I conducted, it might have been possible to prevent some of the dreadful suffering of child abuse”.

“I very much wish that I had been able to do so. It is a matter of the greatest regret to me that I did not manage at that time to get to the root of the problem.”

The commission said “no attempt” was made by Bishop Murray to revisit these stated concerns even after he became aware of Naughton’s abusive behaviour in parishes of Donnycarney and Ringsend.

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