Call for Limerick bishop to face criminal inquiry

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Call for Limerick bishop to face criminal inquiry

PATSY McGARRYALISON HEALY and

CALLS HAVE been made for a criminal investigation into how Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray handled abuse allegations against Fr Thomas Naughton.

They followed the sentencing yesterday of Naughton to three years in prison, with one year suspended, for abusing a boy at least 70 times in Valleymount, Co Wicklow, between 1982 and 1984.

Parents who complained to Bishop Murray about the priest when he was an auxiliary bishop in Dublin in 1983 said they were dismissed by him.

Mervyn Rundle, who was abused by Naughton when the priest was moved from Valleymount to Donnycarney parish in 1984, yesterday asked “when are the guards going to act against these guys ?”

In 1998, Naughton was sentenced to three years in jail for abusing Mervyn Rundle and other boys in Donnycarney. The sentence was reduced by six months, on appeal.

Retired Garda sergeant John Brennan, who sought to have Naughton removed from Valleymount in 1984 following complaints by parents, said “as justice was done today, I think that it should now be taken a step further. Fr Naughton, I’ve always maintained, is a human being with a problem.”

He continued: “It was his superiors who, aware of this weakness, sent him around to other places, and I think they shouldn’t be allowed at this stage to resign or retire. They should be the subject of a criminal investigation. If there is neglect and evidence of a cover-up, it shouldn’t be a question of somebody resigning. They should be the subject of a criminal charge.”

A 78-year-old St Patrick’s Missionary Society priest, Naughton had pleaded guilty to five sample counts of indecent assault and yesterday received five three-year sentences, to run concurrently, with the final year suspended in each case.

Handing down the sentences at Wicklow Circuit Court in Bray, Judge Michael O’Shea said the abuse was “appalling, shocking and horrifying”.

The court heard that it started in 1982, when the victim was six years old. After he had made his First Communion he became an altar server in Valleymount parish, where Naughton was curate.

Justice O’Shea added that the abuse had an “absolutely catastrophic” impact on the victim’s life.

Last night, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said: “Tom Naughton was an abuser who damaged the lives of many innocent young people. I hope those involved in today’s proceedings will find some solace and justice in his having to serve a jail sentence for his crimes.”

Naughton is one of nine priests from Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese to have been convicted of child sex abuse. Four other priests of the diocese face similar charges.

Andrew Madden, who was abused by former priest Ivan Payne, last night called for the immediate resignations of bishops Murray, Jim Moriarty, Martin Drennan, Éamonn Walsh and Ray Field, who were all mentioned in the Murphy report.

“Their continued presence in office is an insult to every child sexually abused by a priest in the Dublin archdiocese. They display a contemptible level of arrogance and a shocking lack of humility. The Catholic Church in Ireland has totally failed to respond at all appropriately to the findings of the Murphy report,” he said.

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