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Ireland - child abuse furore

Sexual abuse by priests hidden for decades, says report

Article published on the 2009-11-26 Latest update 2009-11-26 10:30 TU

(Photo: WikiMedia Commons)

(Photo: WikiMedia Commons)

Ireland's Catholic Church authorities are bracing for strong criticism following a report that claims they mishandled child sexual abuse allegations against priests in Dublin - the country's largest archdiocese. The report, by the Dublin Archdiocese Commission, is to be made public Thursday.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has warned the findings of judge Yvonne Murphy, who led the first ever state investigation of how the once powerful church runs its affairs, would "shock us all".

They come just six months after a landmark report in May horrified mainly Catholics Ireland by revealing widespread sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children in Catholic-run institutions dating back to the 1930s.

For three years Murphy has been investigating how the Dublin archdiocese dealt with reports there were child rapists among the clerics working in its parishes in the Irish capital.

It has been alleged that when a claim of sexual abuse was made, the police were not informed and the accused cleric was simply moved to another parish. Sometimes this happened several times.

Archbishop Martin has been conducting his own investigations, and a year ago said that more than 150 Dublin clerics had been probed about allegations of child sex abuse in the last 68 years.

Some 400 people had been identified who have either complained or are known or suspected to have suffered child sexual abuse by priests in Dublin, he said, adding that "it is most likely that this is not a final figure".

Eight Dublin priests had been convicted in the criminal courts and three others were facing charges, he said, while 120 civil actions had been brought against 35 Dublin priests.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has had the Murphy report since July, but the findings have twice been before the High Court amid concerns that some of revelations might prejudice ongoing criminal trials.

Prime Minister Brian Cowen's government considered the findings at a meeting on Tuesday and cleared them for publication. Victims' groups will also be briefed before they are made public.

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