The Bishop of Clogher was last night caught up in the scandal surrounding the Catholic church after he admitted failing to tell police about a paedophile priest.
Bishop Joseph Duffy admitted he knew about allegations of abuse against a priest in his Clogher diocese in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, in 1989 — six years before the cleric appeared in court on abuse charges.
Bishop Duffy was told Fr John McCabe had abused a young boy in his car. But he failed to report the incident to police or social services in Northern Ireland.
In 1995, McCabe, who had then left the priesthood, was jailed for 20 months for abusing the boy between 1979 and 1985.
Last night Bishop Duffy was not available to comment personally as he was at a function.
Monsignor Liam McDaid, spokesman for the office of Bishop of Clogher said: “It was an incident that came to Bishop Duffy’s attention and he was bound to secrecy by the victim’s parents. It was quite some time later when he told police.
“There are protocols in place today, but he felt obliged to respect the secrecy at that time. That would not happen now. The person responsible has been tried and has served his time and is no longer a priest. The Bishop was responding to queries regarding a case that has been in the public domain for a long time.”
“The Bishop has said he regrets it was not dealt with in a speedier manner, but this was because of a parent’s request for secrecy,” he added.
Despite resigning as a priest in 1989, having left his teaching job in Enniskillen, McCabe got a job at Hazlewood Integrated College, Newtownabbey, before his trial in 1995. After admitting his assaults, the school let him go. It is understood there was no request for information about Mr McCabe prior to obtaining the job, as he was no longer a priest then.