Clerical abuse spotlight should turn to NI says priest

The report found that Bishop John Magee did not report all abuse allegations to authorities The report said there were 40 people who may have been affected by clerical abuse in the diocese

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A Dublin-based priest, originally from Belfast, has said the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland needs to be examined following the Cloyne Report.

Released on Wednesday, it investigated how allegations against 19 priests were dealt with between 1996 and 2009.

The report found that Bishop John Magee falsely told the Irish government he was reporting all abuse allegations to authorities.

Father Pat McCafferty said the issue was not confined to the Republic.

"The spotlight needs to swing north," he said.

"It has been on Cloyne, on Ferns, on Dublin, the exact same problems that have been reported in those reports are in the north.

"The Diocese of Down and Connor, Armagh, Dromore, Derry and Clogher now need to be scrutinised for the same problems.

"This cancer has to be exercised from the church."

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We cannot north of the border view ourselves as being in the clear from all that happened in the south ”

End Quote Martin McGuinness NI deputy first minister

His views were echoed by Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

"I absolutely believe there should be the same thorough investigations in the northern dioceses as there have been in previous dioceses in the south," Mr McGuinness said.

"We cannot north of the border view ourselves as being in the clear from all that happened in the south whenever I think many of us now know instinctively that that's not the case.

"What is this all about? This is about the protection of innocent children and there is a duty and a responsibility on all of us who are in important positions."

Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter said he intended to introduce a new criminal offence with up to five years in prison for anyone who does not declare information about the abuse of a child.

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It's a horrible decision to make when you decide you can't keep this secret anymore”

End Quote Abuse victim

He said in future, priests would not be excused for withholding information about alleged child abuse even if it was given to them during confession.

A woman who said she was abused by a priest in the County Cork diocese told the BBC she hoped action would be taken following the report.

"I've been so disillusioned and so upset with the way my case has been handled by the church," she said.

"I felt 'will it go far enough', far enough into shocking people into the horror and ugly reality of what is the Catholic Church here."

The woman said she when she first came forward about the abuse the Catholic Church wasn't "interested at all".

"It hasn't been an easy journey, it's a horrible decision to make when you decide you can't keep this secret anymore," she said.

"You keep thinking it's only you. That's how they get away with it for so long. But then I realised I was only one of many victims of this particular priest.

"And to think the church knew all the time. They had known for years about this particular priest and just covered it up, moved him around."

The Catholic Church and Bishop Magee have apologised for the abuse uncovered by the Cloyne Report.

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