Belfast Telegraph

Diocese spent €1.6m on clerical abuse cases

By Greg Harkin

The much-criticised Raphoe Diocese has spent €1.6m on compensation and legal fees dealing with victims of clerical sex abuse, the Irish Independent has learned.

Just over €1.1m was paid to 20 victims of abuse -- with a further €500,000 spent on legal fees.

All 20 cases were settled out of court, with each victim receiving an average of €50,000.

The diocese insisted last night, however, that money for the payouts came from donations given to Bishop Philip Boyce and from the sale of church property.

"None of the compensation paid out to victims came from church plate collections," a spokesman said last night.

He said there had been a "small insurance policy a good number of years ago but that only made a small contribution to the costs".

The Raphoe spokesman said there were no outstanding cases at this time.

However, with 52 victims recorded in diocesan records and highlighted in a report from the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC), there is potential for future cases.

Retired garda Martin Ridge, who interviewed more than two dozen victims of notorious paedophile priest Father Eugene Greene, said that compensation was "always the last thought" on their minds.

"They only ever wanted Greene stopped so that he wouldn't harm anyone else," said Mr Ridge. "€50,000 is no real compensation for the horror those boys suffered."

Meanwhile, the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) launched a scathing attack on "some bishops", claiming the rights of innocent priests had been eroded.

The ACP said the reports on six dioceses this week from the NBSCCC showed that of the allegations against 85 priests, just eight were convicted of a criminal offence.

"In some other cases a settlement was made with the alleged victim. But that still leaves a substantial number of priests against whom no inappropriate behaviour was criminally or civilly established," the ACP said.

Some priests, they said, had been publicly named and shamed and left in legal limbo despite protesting their innocence.

The statement added: "We believe that many bishops, in their great desire to implement the child protection guidelines, and to be seen by the media to be doing so, have lost sight of the rights and entitlements of priests to their good name and reputation."

The Republic's HSE said in a statement yesterday that a special helpline set up for victims of clerical sex abuse in Raphoe received calls from 12 victims on Wednesday, the day the audit was published.

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