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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Priest calls for abuse inquiry
Cardinal Desmond Connell
Cardinal Connell is the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin
A north Belfast priest has called on a diocese in the Republic of Ireland to open its records on alleged clerical child sexual abuse to the authorities.

The parish priest of Holy Cross in Ardoyne, Father Aidan Troy, was responding to fresh allegations made in a programme shown by the state broadcaster in the Republic, RTE.

There have been calls for Cardinal Desmond Connell, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, to give a clearer explanation of the church's handling of allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

"I think the immediate thing is to give a strong signal that we are going to place ourselves as citizens of the state rather than as members of some sort of an organisation," said Fr Troy.

Father Aidan Troy
Father Aidan Troy: "When we become priests we do not cease to become citizens"

"That immediately gets rid of this terrible row that is going on, is it canon law or civil law?

"When we become priests we don't cease to become citizens and now it is up to the government, and the organs of state and law, to move in and to do what they have to do, as they do anywhere else."

The calls follow a Prime Time programme which reported that the Dublin Archdiocese was facing 450 legal actions as a result of claims of clerical sex abuse.

The programme detailed accounts of cases of abuse by eight priests, of which it said at least six bishops became aware.

Government ministers have also called for a state investigation.

Education minister Noel Dempsey said Cardinal Connell had "questions to answer".

"The specific cases and questions that were raised last week, I think he needs be much clearer in his response to that," he told RTE.


We know there is a problem that has been badly handled so let us deal with it.

Father Colm Kilcoyne

"I think it's up to the relevant authorities, the gardai or whoever they are, to investigate complaints to see if any criminal activity took place in covering up any of this."

Irish police, the Garda Siochana, have confirmed that officers had been in consultation with the country's Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, and were "researching various issues involved".

A spokesman for Mr McDowell confirmed on Monday that the minister would be discussing with Cabinet colleagues what type of inquiry may be appropriate.

Father Colm Kilcoyne of the National Conference of Priests supported Fr Troy's call.

"I would certainly agree with him to open up the books, be honest, give ourselves a year or whatever else it is to clear the slate," said Fr Kilcoyne.

"We know there is a problem, we know there is a problem that has been badly handled, so let's deal with it."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
North Belfast priest Fr Aidan Troy:
"When we become priests we don't stop being citizens"
See also:

14 Apr 02 | Europe
14 Apr 02 | N Ireland
10 Apr 02 | N Ireland
21 Mar 02 | Europe
12 Apr 02 | Americas
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