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