The report into child protection practices in the diocese of Raphoe is a “whitewash”, said a retired Donegal Garda who investigated one of the most infamous cases of clerical child sexual abuse in the country.
“It’s basically a whitewash, isn’t it, after all the carnage that happened here,” said Martin Ridge. Mr. Ridge is author of the book, “Breaking the Silence”, which detailed his investigation into the case of former Donegal priest, Eugene Greene. Greene pleaded guilty to 41 sample charges of sexual assault and rape of boys as young as age 7, in west Donegal from 1962 to 1985.
Speaking to the Democrat yesterday afternoon, Mr. Ridge echoed his earlier call for a full enquiry into the diocese.
“There has to be a full state enquiry into the Raphoe Diocese,” Mr. Ridge said, calling the audit “an insult” to survivors of abuse and their families.
“We don’t know how many but I believe people have taken their own lives” as a result of being sexually abused as children, Mr. Ridge said. “I think the time for a proper investigation is now.”
The report said, “It is clear that significant errors of judgement were made by successive bishops when responding to child abuse allegations that emerged within this diocese. Too much emphasis was placed on the situation of the accused priest and too little on the needs of their complainants,” the report stated. “Judgements were clouded, due to the presenting problem being, for example, alcohol abuse and an inability to hear the concerns about abuse of children, through that presenting problem.”
“More attention should have been given to ensuring that preventative actions were taken quickly when concerns came to light,” the report stated.
Philip Boyce, Bishop of Raphoe, yesterday acknowledged that “insufficient emphasis was placed on the needs of victims, often in the misguided attempt to protect the reputation of the church.” He said: “We are truly sorry for the terrible deeds that have been inflicted on so many by a small minority of priests.”
The bishop said there were no records of allegations made against Greene, and he did not believe any records had been destroyed. He said he and Bishop Hegarty were not aware of a letter written by the father of one of Greene’s victims until the time of Greene’s trial.
Mr. Ridge said he believed there had to be knowledge of Greene’s crimes in the diocese. “It is inconceivable to think that the most notorious serial rapist could plunder away around many parishes and that none of his colleagues knew about it or his bosses didn’t know about it,” Mr. Ridge said. “I find it incredible.”