Cork: Brother Of Priest Accused Of Child Sex Abuse Investigated Claims: UPDATED

29 Jul

 
THE first complaint of sexual abuse against the former principal of Carrignavar College and Cork GAA selector, Fr Donncha Mac Cárthaigh, was investigated by his brother, who was then the head of his order in Ireland.

The complaint was lodged against Fr Donncha in 1986. In his statement to the Seanad, using Dáil privilege, Senator Mark Daly revealed how this initial inquiry was headed by his brother, the then provincial superior of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Fr Ciarán Mac Cárthaigh.

No suggestion has been made of impropriety on the part of Fr Ciarán.

Within a number of years of the complaint, Fr Donncha had stepped aside “under a cloud” from his post as principal, and was installed by the order as a career and guidance counsellor, where he had further access to children.

Six more complaints against Fr Donncha were made over the next 12 years and, in 1996, he was put on restricted ministry.

However, it has emerged that Fr Donncha con-celebrated wedding masses as recently as 2005, another violation of restricted ministry guidelines, and that he wears a priest’s collar — even though Church guidelines on restricted ministry state “you are requested to refrain from being identified as a Roman Catholic priest“.

Yesterday, the National Board for Safeguarding Children confirmed it is investigating the order’s child protection policy and handling of abuse complaints.

Fr Donncha was well known in Cork GAA circles as a selector with the Cork minor football team between 1991 and 1993. He was also involved in training under-16 county football teams and was a selector when Cork won the 1981 All-Ireland title.

Mr Daly has harshly criticised the order’s handling of Fr Donncha’s restricted ministry — stating that he travelled to Fatima and Rome in the past two years without receiving permission from the order. On the Fatima trip, he was described as “spiritual director”.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Alan Shatter criticised the Fianna Fáil senator’s decision to use Seanad privilege to name Fr Donncha.

“It was completely inappropriate that an individual who can’t answer for themselves… should be simply pilloried in the Seanad,” said Mr Shatter.

Yesterday, the Irish Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart apologised to all abused by members of their order.

“Persons who have allegations made against them have been taken out of active ministry and are subject to restrictions in regard to access and travel,” it said.

NEWS UPDATE:

SENIOR members of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart intend to interview former pupils and teachers at a Co Cork boarding school as part of its efforts to tackle ongoing allegations of sexual abuse by a former principal.

A letter from the outgoing Provincial Superior, Patrick Courtney, seen by the Irish Examiner, states that the incoming Provincial Superior, Fr Joseph McGee, will visit Coláiste an Chroí Naofa in Carraig na bhFear, 12km from Cork city, in September to begin a process where he “will personally contact and interview past and present members of staff and past pupils”.

“Fr McGee will request details of any incident of abuse which may have come to the attention of these individuals during their time at the school,” the letter says.

Senator Mark Daly last month met with the order and the chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, Ian Elliott, to discuss concerns over the handling of Fr Donncha Mac Cárthaigh’s restricted ministry.

Seven different abuse complaints were made against the former principal and Cork GAA county selector and trainer between 1986 and 2008, by six men and a woman.

In the late 1980s, he stepped aside as principal “under a cloud”, and became a career guidance counsellor at the school. In 1996, he was put onrestricted ministry.

Fr McGee will be accompanied by a member of his leadership team, and the order is confident it will “locate a substantial number of past pupils”.

A request to visit the school will formally be made by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to the school’s principal and CEIST (Catholic Education An Irish School’s Trust).

They also hope to meet with the board of management to further discuss their proposed inquiries into historic abuse at the school.

Despite having been on restricted ministry for 14 years, it was revealed that two years ago, the order let Fr Mac Cárthaigh edit a book to celebrate its centenary. Church guidelines state that when on restricted ministry a priest is not to wear his priest’s collar, but Fr Mac Cárthaigh can be seen on the cover of the book in his priest’s garb.

It has also emerged that he travelled to the US regularly and officiated at funerals, weddings and Masses in family homes, despite being forbidden to do so.

He was also a spiritual director on a pilgrimage to Fatima, and, earlier this year, travelled to Rome without the consent of his superiors.

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