Belfast Telegraph

No more prosecutions over Cloyne abuse scandal

John Magee
John Magee

No further prosecutions are planned over clerical abuse allegations in the Diocese of Cloyne — with just one of the 19 clerics at the centre of abuse complaints ever convicted.

The diocese was under the control of Newry bishop John Magee during the abuse. The revelation came as the Irish government released the full Cloyne Report, featuring previously withheld details on a priest known as ‘Fr Ronat’.

One girl complained that she had been abused by Fr Ronat — who had an interest in hypnosis — at his house when she was 17 or 18 years old.

In April 1995, the diocesan official deemed that the issue was not paedophilia given that the girl was 16 when she started visiting Fr Ronat's home. The Cloyne Report found that there was no evidence of a proper investigation into the girl's complaints.

The girl in question, known by the pseudonym ‘Ailis’, has since died.

“It also, notably, seeks to lay the blame for what occurred on Ailis,” says the report.

Fr Ronat, who continues to live in the Republic and was the focus of abuse allegations from a total of seven different children, has never been convicted of a sex offence.

Chapter Nine runs to 42 pages, the longest in the 27-chapter report, and focuses exclusively on allegations against Fr Ronat.

It found that the diocese — despite having signed up to specific child protection guidelines — was still failing to properly handle such allegations as late as 2008.

It also found that several of allegations against Fr Ronat were not passed on to gardai for investigation as required.

The probe by Judge Yvonne Murphy examined the handling of abuse allegations against a total of 19 clerics in the Cork diocese from 1996-2009.

Just a single cleric has been convicted of a sex offence. That cleric was Fr Brendan Wrixon (75), who received an 18-month suspended prison sentence in 2010 after he pleaded guilty to gross indecency against a 16-year-old boy.

A number of other clerics have since died and others had prosecutions initiated against them that failed to return convictions.

The main report found that former Bishop Magee left the implementation of child protection measures entirely to his vicar-general, Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan, and failed to ensure they were properly implemented.

Both Dr Magee and Monsignor O'Callaghan have profusely apologised over their failings.

Belfast Telegraph


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