‘A Helpful Way To Reflect On Clergy Abuse In Ireland’


Child rapists, clockwise from top left: Fr Sean Fortune, Fr Ivan Payne and Fr Brendan Smyth

BishopAccountability.org has identified more than 70 clergy in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland who have been convicted of sexually abusing children or whose alleged abuses have been amply documented in the Ferns, Ryan, Murphy and Cloyne reports.

This is our fourth published database: we have maintained an accused U.S. clergy database since 2005, and we recently launched databases of publicly accused clergy in Argentina and Chile.

These databases have confirmed for us the clarifying power of lists of names.

A public list makes children safer. It gives profound validation to victims. It serves as a resource for prosecutors, journalists, scholars and even church insiders: over the last few years, several church officials have asked us to add names or information to our U.S. database.

While we bring this simple idea of a list to the Irish clergy abuse problem, we are painfully aware of what we as outsiders do not bring.

We don’t have the anguished history of Irish survivors, or the deep knowledge of the Irish crisis that many visitors to this page will have.

We hope that even the most learned among you will find the list a helpful way to reflect on clergy abuse in Ireland, but we also hope that you will advise us and help us make this database better.

Priests and Brothers Convicted of Sexually Abusing Minors in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (BishopAccountability)

Earlier: ‘The Meeting Won’t Be Announced Until After It’s Over’

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38 thoughts on “‘A Helpful Way To Reflect On Clergy Abuse In Ireland’

  1. Cian

    Scary – there are currently about 1900 priests working in Ireland. 70/1900!
    That means 3.5[1]% are convicted for or alleged abuses amply documented in the Ferns, Ryan, Murphy and Cloyne reports;

    [1] Okay, that number is unfair as I should count all priests since the 50s – not just the ones that are still alive. But still

          1. newsjustin

            Yeah. But the Pope isn’t claiming to do useful analysis of these numbers. You’re just grabbing some numbers you happened to see on a screen and putting them next to each other.


    1. newsjustin

      Yeah. Your take on it is way off. Firstly, none of these are in active ministry. Quite a number are no longer priests. Some were never priests, they were brothers.

      Throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s there would have been at least 5,000 priests in active service in Ireland. So maybe a total of 15,000 down the years.

      Your sums are just wrong. And it’s misleading to suggest that these 70 are amongst the current number of serving Irish priests.

          1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            How many of them knew about others who were, though? That’s a number that’s very hard to ascertain.

          2. Daisy Chainsaw

            Are you going to defend the accessories who aided and abetted in these rapes by protecting the abusers and facilitating access to further victims?

          3. nellyb

            Best defence and protection for genuine priests is conviction of criminal priests. They’d be as thankful for it as the victims.

          4. Topsy

            nellyb: well spoken amid a sea of absolute hysteria. Facts don’t matter.
            What should happen is for the Pope to decree that all bishops report any person/priest (that they are aware of who has engaged in a sexual or other crime against a child) to the local police force.

          5. Bobby Rwanda

            It’s really strange that, in the context of child sex abuse (CHILD sex abuse), you immediately jump to a position of defence of some of the members of the organisation which facilitated such behaviour. Y’know, instead of first addressing the horrific nature of the subject and substance of the post (i.e. industrial-scale child sex abuse). I’ve persistently observed this behavioural response from Irish altar lickers in similar scenarios so don’t blame me if I just go right ahead with the assumption that you are one.

        1. newsjustin

          You are dead right. One is far too many.

          Suggesting there are 70 convicted sex abusers amongst serving Irish priests is simply misleading though.

      1. Clampers Outside!

        What Newsjustin said.

        The math is nonsense.

        Decades of cases are calculated against a single year, the “current” number.
        A number which has itself been on, and still is on, a massive decline. Just consider that there were 3,202 priests in 2002; down 40% since….

        I say again, that math is nonsense.

        1. newsjustin

          In fairness, that was Cian just taking a stab at the figures. The actual work of Bishop Accountability collating documented cases can’t be faulted. It’s a useful record.

        2. Bobby Rwanda

          OMG, the figures aren’t accurate! Rabble! rabble! rabble! rabble!

          It’s industrial-scale child sex abuse. Focus on that part, @Clampers Outside!; not the inaccuracies in the figures FFS.

      1. bisted

        …the latest evidence to emerge indicates that the most evil and sadistic of all the religious are the nuns…

        1. Daisy Chainsaw

          The prison guards of the laundries and mother and baby homes.
          The human traffickers of babies and the slavers of Industrial schools.
          The carers of diseased and malnourished children in a septic tank.

          1. :-Joe


            Although, it’s been going on on for years, books have been written, various doctors, journalists and intellectuals have spoken out about it but nobody, en masse, wants to believe it.

            The whole thing has always been a cult of suffering and gleefully tolerated by the vatican because of the funding, marketing and pr coin it generates.

            It’s absoloutely disgusting and one of the most obvious examples and clear windows into what the catholic church is really all about at it’s deepest and dark level of reality.

            Here’s a short documentary from channel 4 about the situation back when it was possible to make independent critical analysis on TV for the benefit of mainstream awareness.

            Mother Teresa – Hell’s Angel by Christopher Hitchens / Channel 4

            It features the pope’s last visit to Ireland with herself in tow promoting pro-life ant-abortion, anti-women and family vitriol to brainwash the now elderly of this country into subsidising their insanity for the future..

            The presenter / narrator can’t help making it darkly funny even hilarious at some points, I recommend it to all, especially all you believers out there.

            Worth looking at the complaints he had to answer to from the catholic stazi shown live on Right to Reply on TV as well.

            RIP C.H. -glug,glug,sob.


  2. phil

    So much in the records, in one case a priest used to take pictures of recovering children in hospital, he was on holidays in the UK and got some film developed, when the chemist discovered the terrible photos he reported it to the authorities , McQuaid stopped the investigation.

    How Did you get photos developed in the 60’s 70’s 80’s and 90’s most likely by chemist I suspect . I wonder was there ever a case in Ireland, where a chemist has ever reported coming across such negatives ?

    1. Benny

      You could do it yourself (I develop my own film at home – it’s not hard). The chemicals were available from chemists, which is why they ended up in the photo printing biz in the first place. I’d suspect that the priest spoken of here wasn’t the brightest.

      Looking at a lot of my own older family photos (from the 50s, 60s etc), they appear to have been taken on roll film (think of a Zeiss Ikonta or similar). These could be used to make contact prints – you wouldn’t even need an enlarger.

  3. Zaccone

    The state needs to confiscate a huge swathe of Catholic church property and set up a substantial fund for victims of abuse.

    1. Bobby Rwanda

      We’re only a successful Referendum and a constitutional amendment away from this being a real possibility. Current public sentiment: YES.

  4. :-Joe

    Ahh Jayzus… a shocking, brutal and ugly part of our reality but fair play to the truth coming out and being recorded as a factual document for futre public record.

    I met one of the priests in this list many years ago and he seemed like an honest decent sort of person perhaps a bit too friendly in a way but easy to talk to and have a casual or interesting conversation with. He also seemed far more open minded, modern and progressive than most of the clergy I had been in brief contact with over those years.

    I don’t know or remember if he seemed like he was friendly to me and others I knew because he was trying to build raport for grooming one of us or even to be closer to us to satisfy his condition but it is definitely possible even though I don’t know for sure. I had unfounded suspicions and I had heard a few rumours about him but that was common about all priests in schools at the time, especially joking about ones with awkward behaviour or any obvious inability to form comfortable social interactions.

    Despite these rumours, when I found out he had been convicted of abuse many years later I was still extremely surprised and naturally thought that it must have been someone else with the same name but obviously I was wrong. Looking back on it now it’s more surprising how unreliable your memory and personal judgement can be in that I remember knowing something wasn’t right but I wasn’t sure yet I put it to one side instead of trying to find out or else I made excuses to put it out of my mind. In a way that was irresponsible.

    The strangest thing about the situation for me, having not experienced any abuse from him or any other priest, was the realisation that the church does not care enough to seperate known repeated child rapists, abusers and molestors WITHIN THEIR OWN ORGANISATION let alone help deal with all the other ones in the society that they know of as part of their dioces, parishes or local communities that they are living and working in.

    Many of the priests have colluded with other members of society in facilitating organised repeated child rape and abuse as shown in recent reports and documents and the documentaries and films in recent times.

    The level of knowledge, insight and power the church has had over local communities is quite extraordinary. Just think about how almost every member of every family accross generations have had some communication, often frequently and also regularly in a much more intensive personal relationship with members of the church.

    How they could repeatedly place an obviously clear and present danger to children and society in general in one school and then another, moving them around is almost beyond any sense of reason or rational thought. Other than willfull neglect of responsibility, common decency and a duty of care.

    The fact that in the case I briefly experienced he was returned to the same school a second time after having already been convicted and had served a minimal amount of time for previous rape and abuse crimes that he had committed there in the same exact place years earlier is mind-boggling. How the community was not up in arms about it shows the true nature and power that the church held over society and how they had become so drunk on their own power as to neglect basic human rights.

    it was not a mistake, a clerical error, an oversight, a bad judgement in dealing with problems interrnally or showing forgiveness or mercy to someone who served their time. It was not just a different time where a tolerance for child abuse or peadophilia was part of the culture, which it most certainly was not.

    It was and still is blatent abuse by an out-of-control institution that knows no limits in treating the public as insignificant, expendable serfs and servants to it’s wealth, power and success. An institution who treats society as having no value and no consequence against the will of itself. Any threat posed to it’s own survival is to be immediately destroyed at any cost to anything and everything else. The source of it’s own problems is itself and there is no way back.

    The catholic church is a cultural disease, a virus, a cancer on society. I don’t know if humanity can ompletely break free of religion, I believe it can but can or will it happen within the next century? I don’t know for sure. I do know that there have been thousands of religions over the history of the human race and maybe those who need it that badly should think about joining or starting the next one.

    The catholic church, thankfully is already dead and you are experiencing the last long dying breath of a failed institution. Like every institution we keep alive through our belief it can never be repaired. If not forgotton it can only be destroyed or created in another form.

    Every cent of the X number of millions being spent to host this institutionalised cabal of fantasist child rapists is a national disgrace, an embarressment and for each cent it’s a knife in the heart and minds of the victims and their close families and friends. World meeting of the institutional abuse of families indeed.

    I would also include the hebo / peado -phile abusers as victims in some cases. Many of which were abused themselves and many by church employees also. If we as a society were to take the issues around rape and abuse seriously for once after many years of experience of the problems, we would have had a working soloution in progress and improving every year.

    It is a fact that many of theses known offenders could have been dealt with long before they started abusing by offering help, support, counselling and monitoring of not just offending abusers but also the non-offending potential abusers who have nowhere to go to admit to having these problems and also struggle to live with the problem in their own way. We also have to think about the many out there that we don’t know about and never will.

    Anyway, I could waffle on pointlessly for hours about this but our thoughts should be with all victims of any kind of abuse and the victims of the church in particular who most likely will be suffering a lot and more than most could ever know at this time. It’s a very sad and depressing time to watch this happen.

    Just imagine the greatest symbol possible of your greatest abuse being heralded and welcomed as a hero at any cost by your country to satisfy the religulous beliefs of almost everyone around you. It’s a total mindtwinkle-poo wrapped up in a sheer vulgar disrespect for society from an Invertibrate aspect of oirish mentality.

    Make the church pay for their marketing excercises, they can clearly afford it. Change the laws and hold the vatican accountable for it’s child raping and abusing middle managers from their failed mind control, manipulation and corruption machine that’s still grinding through the mind, body and spirit of humanity..

    Set up adequate services to deal with non-offending hebo / peado -philes who are trying to avoid committing these moral and legal crimes.

    Just my thoughts, as a being of the sun, the earth and my mother’s own son…
    – Faith, belief and worship of institutions have never been necessary, essential or ever required.


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