Monday, October 03, 2005

Ireland-Wexford: Dozens to be named in report on child sex porn ring

October 3, 2005 12:00am
Source: Irish Independent

AN explosive report into a child sexual abuse ring in Wexford has been completed and will be presented to Government by the end of the month.

The Commission of Inquiry into allegations of serial abuse in the Ferns diocese will spell out a pattern of organised child procurement by members of the clergy, according to informed sources last night.

Government insiders said the report would be referred to the Attorney General once received for legal vetting. A large number of persons have already been invited to make observations on why certain findings should not be made against them.

It is understood that dozens of persons, ordained and lay alike, will be named in the report, which is not expected to be published until its full ramifications and the legal hazards in making it public have been fully explored.

Last night, Judge Frank Murphy, who has carried out a prolonged investigation into allegations centering on St Peter's College in Wexford and other locations, told the Irish Independent that he would not be discussing his report prior to its submission to Government.

It is believed the report will be a lengthy indictment of abuse that took place under the aegis of the Catholic Church in Ferns, most of it during the time of departed Bishop Brendan Comiskey.

Minister of State with special responsibility for children, Brian Lenihan, will be asked to grapple with the bombshell revelations when the report hits the desk of Health Minister Mary Harney. And the findings could pave the way for a more intensive probe into a litany of similar allegations in the Dublin Archdiocese.

The Government will consider in due course whether the success of the Ferns inquiry should prompt an even more extensive probe into paedophile activity in the Archdiocese of Dublin.

A number of bishops have already asked their clergy to prepare themselves for shocking findings in the Ferns investigation, whose grounding material runs into hundreds of pages.

The inquiry was set up by Government after the broadcast of a BBC2 documentary in April 2002 entitled Suing the Pope which featured the sex abuse career of Fr Sean Fortune, who committed suicide to cheat criminal charges.

Allegations that he had ignored serial complaints about Fortune, moving him on from place to place within the diocese, led to the resignation of Bishop Comiskey.

The Murphy report will catalogue a list of other priests against whom allegations of sex abuse have been made in Ferns. The report could prompt a wave of fresh files to the DPP.

International studies have pointed to a profile whereby 4pc of priests are sexual abusers, but each abuser is likely to have had a series of victims. Four in five victims of international abuse by clergy are teenage boys.

The Ferns diocese this year paid over 200,000 to a Catholic priest who was sexually abused while a young student at St Peter's seminary in Wexford town. His case is one of a large number reported to centre on the institution.

The payment was made in respect of alleged abuse by Fr Donal Collins, the former president of St Peter's, who was jailed in 1999 for indecent assault and gross indecency on four boys. He served one year and was laicised by the Pope.

It has been reported that costs and claims for some 17 child sex abuse cases have already cost the Ferns diocese nearly 3m. It has warned that it may sell church property to help meet the cost of sex abuse compensation claims.

Senan Molony Political Correspondent



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