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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 October 2005, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Bishop to make statement on abuse
Bishop of Derry Seamus Hegarty to address issue of sex abuse
A statement on clerical sex abuse is to be issued by the Catholic Bishop of Derry, Dr Seamus Hegarty.

It follows publication of a report which found that 21 priests had abused children in County Wexford over the past 40 years.

Fr Michael Canny, administrator of St Eugene's Cathedral, said he expected the statement "to be significant".

He said the bishop wanted to reject the impression the country was "crawling with priests who are paedophiles".

"The context of this statement is that there may well be an impression among people that the country is crawling with priests who are paedophiles and all of them, like Fr Sean Fortune, and that no doubt people are today going to chapel and people are going about their business talking about this," he said.

Government inquiry

"There may be a lot of fear and suspicion in their minds and I think it is now that Bishop Hegarty is preparing something to set the record straight."

An Irish government inquiry into child abuse in the Ferns diocese in County Wexford uncovered over 100 allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

The 271-page Ferns report investigated allegations against 21 priests who had been working in the diocese between 1966-2002.

The report said police investigations into claims of abuse were inadequate.

It also criticised bishops in the diocese for failing to take basic precautions to protect children.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern told the Dail on Wednesday that his government intends introducing a national audit into how the Catholic Church had dealt with issues of child sex abuse.

The two-year investigation into the allegations of abuse was chaired by retired supreme court judge Frank Murphy.

Six of the 21 priests were named in the report but 15 others were identified by numbers as allegations against them have not been proven in the courts.


22 Apr 02 |  Northern Ireland

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