THE Catholic Church has submitted a “significant” legal bill to the government for taking part in the first state inquiry into clerical sex abuse. The bill, which exceeds €100,000, has been put in by the diocese of Ferns in advance of publication of a damning report detailing clerical sex abuse in the Wexford diocese. The costs claim has taken some officials by surprise as the non-statutory inquiry, the first of its kind, was designed to eliminate the need for lawyers. No other party, including survivors of abuse, their families, gardai and health board officials who co-operated with the inquiry, has yet sought to recover costs.
The Ferns inquiry, led by Frank Murphy, a retired Supreme Court judge, is the first state investigation into the Church’s handling of clerical sex abuse allegations. Due to be published later this year, its findings are expected to re-ignite widespread public anger against the hierarchy over its failure to respond adequately to abuse complaints against priests.