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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 17:46 GMT
Irish priests hit by abuse claims
Religious artefacts
The Catholic Church has been hit by abuse scandals worldwide
More than 100 Catholic priests in the Dublin region of Ireland are suspected of having abused children in the last 66 years, according to a new report.

The Archdiocese of Dublin's report said at least 350 children may have been abused in the region since 1940.

More than 3% of some 2,800 priests to have worked in the archdiocese are suspected of abuse - the biggest such figure revealed so far in Ireland.

The Irish government is soon to begin an inquiry into abuse in the Church.

The office of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said it was publishing its findings before a commission is formed later this month to investigate the handling of abuse.

A series of sex-abuse scandals have dented the Irish Catholic Church's reputation since 1994.

The report said it had arrived at its figure after studying the personnel files of all priests who have worked in the Dublin archdiocese since 1940.

So far, 32 priests in the archdiocese have been sued for damages by 105 victims, according to the report.

The cost of the litigation so far - 5.9m euros (4m; $7m) - is expected to rise, the report said, as many cases have yet to be settled and more suspected victims of abuse have still to be traced.

Late last year an investigation in a smaller diocese, in County Wexford, uncovered more than 100 allegations of abuse against 21 priests.

The latest report marks the biggest admission of physical or sexual abuse by the Irish Catholic Church since the first such scandals erupted a decade ago.


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SEE ALSO:
Abuse claims 'against 26 priests'
27 Oct 05 |  Northern Ireland
Priests discussing sex abuse levy
25 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland


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