Accused priest allowed to train youths

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The Irish Examiner
Thursday, July 28, 2011

Accused priest allowed to train youths

By Claire O’Sullivan and Cormac O’Keeffe

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A CORK-BASED priest was training under-age county teams and was a selector of the minor county football team, even though sex abuse allegations had been made against him years earlier.

Speaking using Seanad privilege during a debate on the Cloyne report, Senator Mark Daly accused the Sacred Heart Missionaries of repeatedly putting children at risk by not properly supervising the former school principal and allowing him access to minors.

Meanwhile, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) is likely to launch a full investigation after examining the Cloyne report.

The Irish Examiner understands GSOC is in discussions with the Murphy commission to clarify “procedural issues” regarding access to information held by the commission, such as the identities of gardaí criticised and, in those cases, of the victims and priests.

The Seanad was told yesterday that between 1986 and 2008, seven allegations of sexual abuse were lodged against Fr Donncha Mac Cárthaigh by six men and a woman.

In 1996, he was put on restricted ministry by the Sacred Heart order but according to Mr Daly, the conditions of restricted ministry have been breached on numerous occasions.

The former principal of Coláiste an Chroí Naofa in Carrignavar in Co Cork was a spiritual director on a week-long national pilgrimage to Fatima in Portugal last year — even though under restricted ministry, this is forbidden.

“Similarly, the priest travelled to Rome in Easter this year without informing the designated person or Pope Benedict in his role as vicar of Rome,” the Fianna Fáil senator told the chamber during the debate on the Cloyne report.

The Sacred Heart Missionaries also gave him a post as a guidance and careers counsellor — which allowed him access to young people — after he stepped aside “under a cloud” as principal of Carrignavar College in north Cork in the late 1980s.

The Seanad was told Fr Mac Cárthaigh was a selector with the Cork minor football team between 1991 and 1993. He was involved in training U-16 county football teams and was a selector when Cork won the 1981 All-Ireland title.

It’s understood that the Sacred Heart Missionaries wrote to Rome last year asking for Fr Mac McCárthaigh to be laicised.

Mr Daly said it was only in recent weeks that the document was forwarded to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

“Children were failed time and time again by the order. They gave him the potential to destroy even more lives” said the senator.

“Even though the DPP declined to pursue criminal prosecution, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart settled a civil case before it was brought to court and into the public domain.”

The Church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) has been made aware of the issues. The Sacred Heart Missionaries are due to make a statement today. A GAA spokesman said they did not wish to comment.

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