Belfast Telegraph

Abuse suspects were moved to different parishes

By Donna Deeney

Catholic priests facing allegations of sex abuse were systematically moved to different parishes where their deviant behaviour continued, a major report has found.

An investigation into the Derry Diocese found that from 1974 until this year a total of 23 priests in the diocese have had allegations of sex abuse made against them.

However, the accused priests “were not robustly challenged or adequately managed”.

The role played by bishops in moving accused priests away has sparked calls from victims for the police to pursue them for helping abusers escape justice.

The father of a girl who said his daughter was abused for 10 years said: “There is nothing in this report for us, only confirmation that Bishop Hegarty aided and abetted the movement of the priest who abused my daughter and others like him.

“It was suggested to us that we go for counselling but the forms came to the house and then we realised it cost £3,000 so I tore them up in disgust. That was their idea of help.”

The audit spans the time when Bishop Edward Daly and Bishop Seamus Hegarty were in charge of the Derry Diocese. It was they who took the decisions to move priests to different parishes within the diocese, which also includes parts of Co Donegal in the Republic.

Both bishops are now retired but Diocese Administrator Monsignor Eamon Martin said he was sorry and ashamed for the way victims were treated.

The audit by the National Board for Safeguarding Children also says there were delays in reporting allegations to statutory authorities and case recording was poor and unstructured.

The report said disciplinary procedures were employed only in exceptional circumstances and “risk assessment of priests against whom allegations or reports of concerns have been received were not conducted or commissioned.”

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