PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent
THREE SEPARATE investigations are under way into the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart congregation while managing their Coláiste an Chroí Naofa school in Carraig na bhFear, near Cork city.
Last night both the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter welcomed decisions by the HSE and an Garda Síochána to investigate “concerns regarding the welfare and protection of children who attended a boarding school in Carraig na bhFear, Cork, run by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart”.
It is also understood the congregation requested that the Catholic Church’s child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children, conduct a review of child protection procedures at the school, which is currently under way.
State investigations there have been initiated by HSE national director Gordon Jeyes, and by Det Supt John McCann of the Garda’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit.
Last night Ms Fitzgerald said she “met Gordon Jeyes to discuss the issues involved and welcomed the priority being given by the HSE to the inquiry”.
The Ministers said she also felt that it was important to state they have been assured “that none of those against whom allegations have been made are currently engaged in any work activities which bring them into contact with children”.
In the Seanad on July 27th Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly named a priest who had taught at the school. Despite seven cases of alleged child abuse against the priest being reported to four different Garda stations between 1986 and 2008, the Director of Public Prosecutions declined to pursue a criminal prosecution against him, said Mr Daly.
Mr Daly said the Sacred Heart Missionaries had settled a civil case in relation to this priest before it was brought to court and accused them of failure to enforce restrictions placed upon the priest.
Last year, he said, the priest had been advertised as spiritual director for a pilgrimage abroad, where he could have unsupervised access to children.