Ireland's Child Care Institutions during the 20th. Century. Fo'T: The most vivid and passionate stories - banished babies, cruel orphanages, old abuses of power - have concerned things that went unnoticed, or at least unarticulated, at the time. News has often had to be redefined, not as the latest sensation but as that which everybody knew all along yet could not say.

Saturday, November 29, 1997

Church faces huge costs for abuse claims

By PATSY MCGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent

The Catholic Church and some religious orders in Ireland could face huge compensation costs for victims of sexual and physical abuse if negligence is proved, the head of the Law Society has said. Mr Ken Murphy said employers who have been alerted to wrongful acts by employees, but take no action to stop them, may be deemed negligent by the courts under the law of "vicarious liability".

A case earlier this month, in which a woman won £140,000 in a civil action over sexual allegations against the publican who employed her, suggests Irish juries will make relatively high awards for such cases, said Mr Murphy. The amounts would probably be higher in cases involving children, said Mr Murphy, who is director general of the Law Society, which represents solicitors.

Following the conviction in Kerry earlier this month of Father John Brosnan on 13 charges of sexual abuse involving four girls and a boy, it emerged that the then bishop of Kerry, Dr Diarmuid O Suilleabhain (now deceased) was told in 1989 about the abuse, but had not acted.
This was confirmed by the present Bishop of Kerry, Dr William Murphy, who said in a letter read at all Masses in the diocese that "it would appear that the full nature and extent of what occurred was not understood or ascertained by him [Dr O Suilleabhain".

The Irish bishops' spokesman, Father Martin Clarke, said it was not clear how many claims were under way against the church arising from incidents of abuse. Each case was being dealt with separately, in accordance with due process, in the relevant diocese or religious congregation. So far, no case had come to court. He said the Catholic Primate, Dr Sean Brady, had said the church "won't shirk on its responsibilities if that involves compensation".

Since 1980, 23 clergy have been convicted in Ireland on sex abuse charges, 15 in the Republic and eight in the North. A further 15 cases are pending, two of which are in the North. Among the convicted are 12 diocesan priests, five religious order priests, two priests serving abroad whose offences were perpetrated in Ireland, and four religious brothers.

© The Irish Times - Saturday, November 29, 1997

Wednesday, November 26, 1997

Shatter seeks data on paedophile cases

There is no evidence that a "paedophile ring" exists or has existed in the State, according to the Minister for Justice. Mr O'Donoghue said that with the exception of one investigation relating to the seizure of pornographic videos gardai had no evidence of a paedophile ring in Ireland. He was responding to a written question from Mr Alan Shatter (FG, Dublin South), who asked how many children had been abused by members of religious orders and if any guilty clergy had co-operated with each other in abusing children.

Mr O'Donoghue said gardai had assured him that any indication that a suspect might have acted with anybody else would be fully investigated.

Mr Shatter had also asked how many clergy had been found guilty in the past five years of child sex abuse, how many offences they had been charged with and the number of offenders in prison.

The Minister said his Department did not categorise prisoners by occupation, and it was not always clear from warrants whether the victims were adults or children. He added that such information could only be obtained "by a disproportionate expenditure of staff time and resources".

© The Irish Times - Wednesday, November 26, 1997