October 18, 2002
Concern was expressed to Connell over priest

Above Eilish Macklin, said the hospital authorities were owed an explanation

From RTE News Online

A spokesman for Cardinal Desmond Connell has confirmed that concern had been expressed about the behaviour of the late Fr Noel Reynolds towards children before his appointment as chaplain to the National Rehabilitation Hospital.

However, the spokesman said the priest was sent for assessment and that assessment concluded that there was no evidence of child sexual abuse.

Three years ago, shortly after leaving the hospital, Fr Reynolds admitted abusing more than 100 children in eight parishes in Dublin.

Cardinal Connell's spokesman said this afternoon that when the diocese received the first complaint of child sexual abuse against Fr Reynolds, he was immediately removed from ministry at the hospital.

This occurred in May 1998, 11 months after he was appointed chaplain.

Last night's Prime Time programme reported that in 1996, while parish priest of Glendalough, some parents complained to Archbishop's House that they had serious concerns about his behaviour towards their children but that nothing happened.

Eighteen months later, parents threatened to go public unless something was done about him. Archbishop Connell, as he was then, immediately moved him, assigning him as chaplain to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.

The then parish priest of Rathdrum, Fr Arthur O'Neill, who is now administrator of Westland Row, confirmed today that he had reported his concern about Fr Reynolds in 1995.

Hospital was not told of priest's past
But the Archbishop did not inform the hospital of Reynolds' past in Glendalough. The hospital accommodates six long-stay children and a number of teenagers.

The National Rehabilitation Hospital has said it learnt from RTE only this month that the former chaplain was a self-confessed child abuser.

The hospital's Director of Nursing, Eilish Macklin, said the hospital authorities were owed an explanation as to why neither the Cardinal nor the Gardaí told them about Fr Reynolds admission of child abuse.

Calls for Cardinal Connell to resign
Organisations representing victims of child abuse called on the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, to initiate a Garda investigation into the Catholic Church's handling of sex abuse by clerics in the Dublin Diocese.

In a statement, the group, Irish Survivors of Child Abuse, also called on Cardinal Desmond Connell to resign. The group described his position as untenable.

The group said the programme had shown what many victims have been saying for years - that there had been collusion in the cover-up of abuse of children by priests at the highest level in the Church.

The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, said he was very disturbed at what he had heard this morning and that some reflection was needed before the State could give a response.

Dublin Diocese facing 450 legal actions over child sex abuse
Earlier today Cardinal Connell's spokesman said the Cardinal had pledged his full and total co-operation with the internal Catholic Church inquiry headed by Judge Gillian Hussey.

The statement follows the Prime Time documentary "Cardinal Sins" which detailed abuses committed in the Dublin diocese over 40 years.

The documentary reported that the Dublin Archdiocese is currently facing 450 legal actions as a result of clerical sex abuse.

However Fine Gael's Justice spokesman, John Deasy, has called for an independent Garda inquiry into allegations of child sex abuse by members of the clergy.

He said an inquiry conducted by the Church could not be trusted, given their historical collusion in hiding and denying these crimes.

Rape Crisis Centre reports increase in calls
A spokeswoman for the Rape Crisis centre in Dublin said they had received a significant number of calls following last night's Prime Time programme.

Extra staff were called in to deal with the calls. Counsellors received 50 calls last night and 25 more today.

Posted by paul at October 18, 2002 05:40 PM
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