The Bishop of Clonfert Dr John Kirby has admitted he made out-of-court settlements in the 1990s to two victims of sexual abuseat the hands of a Catholic priest in his diocese.
Kirby spoke yesterday after the publication of seven reports by the National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) into child safeguarding practices in the Catholic Church. He said, as he remembers, the payments were made in 1994 and 1998. Including legal fee they totaled “circa IR£130,000”.
Earlier this week Kirby shocked with comments about his understand of what pedophilia was. He said he had thought this sexual abuse was just “friendship that crossed a boundary line”.
The out of court settlements which Kirby referred to were in relation to accusation set against the clergyman indentified as “Priest A” in the reports, according to the Irish Times.
The report states that there were “five separate complaints were made against priest ‘A’ between 1990 and 1997”.
The priest was convicted in court and served a jail sentence. The review revealed that when Kirby had been made aware of the abuse allegations against “Priest A” and another priest he “moved the priests against whom allegations were made to different parishes”.
In defense of his actions Kirby said “I literally thought, and you can put it down as gross innocence and naivety, that if I separated the priest and the youngster, that it was a friendship that crossed the boundary line. I literally thought if I separated them I would have solved the problem.”
With relation to “Priest A” the reports confirms that “Bishop Kirby did immediately confront the priest when he received the firstallegation, [the priest acknowledged the allegation], and the bishop made a speedy report to the Western Health Board . . . It is not recorded whether Bishop Kirby reported the allegation to An Garda Síochána [police]”.
“Priest A” has been laicized.
In regards to the other priest’s case the review found that “the first complaint was not properly managed” however, later complaints against him were dealt with “more effectively”.
Ireland’s Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the reports highlighted “indefensible child protection failures”. He added that the cases highlighted by the report now being investigated by the Garda Sexual Crime Management Unit.