Loophole in Irish law allows priests to remain silent over abuse
A 70-year-old law in the Republic of Ireland allows priests to stay silent on allegations of sex abuse they may hear outside the protected environment of the confessional, it has been revealed.
It means children could still be at risk from paedophiles because priests will be able to withhold what they hear, despite new legislation which makes it a crime to fail to report child abuse.
Anything a priest hears outside the confessional will be covered by what is known as ‘sacerdotal privilege’, meaning that allegations heard during a conversation could be claimed to be exempt from reporting.
TDs in the Irish Republic have been informed of a number of “established privileges which can be used in certain circumstances as a defence to a charge of withholding information” including those made to a priest “outside the confessional setting”, according to the Irish Daily Mail.