They took out insurance…

How the story of abuse in Catholic Church institutions emerged

Ireland Timeline

1987 – Insurance taken out by dioceses around the country to cover them against allegations of clerical child sex abuse.

1987 – The Irish state publishes its first set of guidelines on child abuse.

1988 – Desmond Connell appointed Archbishop of Dublin.

1990 – Irish Catholic Church establishes internal committee (chaired by Bishop of Ossory Laurence Forristal) to assess legal implications for Irish priests of child abuse revelations in the future. No Irish case has yet been made public.

June 1994 – The scandal breaks – Fr Brendan Smith is sentenced to 4 years in prison for abuse of children in Northern Ireland.

October 1994 – Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference refuses to comment on reports that two Kerry priests were removed from their duties on foot of allegations of child sexual abuse.

November 1994 – Government falls over divisions between coalition partners Fianna Fail and Labour over Attorney General’s handling of extradition requests for Fr Brendan Smith to Northern Ireland.

April 1995 – Andrew Madden is the first victim of clerical child sex abuse to go public. The Irish Press reports that he has received a compensation payment in respect of his abuse as a child.

May 1995 – Archbishop Desmond Connell announces that the archdiocese has never paid compensation to any victim of clerical child abuse. He later explains that the money used to compensate Andrew Madden was a “loan” from the archdiocese to Ivan Payne.

June 1995 – a Dublin priest receives 12-month sentence for child sex abuse; Belfast priest Daniel Curran sentenced to seven years for child sex abuse. A number of other priests charged with abuse during following months.

September – RTÉ Prime Time programme names Ivan Payne as abuser of Andrew Madden. Archbishop Connell threatens to sue over suggestions that he facilitated the compensation payment to Andrew. No case is ever taken.

October 1995 – The Irish Times reports that another Dublin priest paid £50,000 compensation to a man he abused as a child.

November 1995 – Bishops issue fullest apology to date.

November 1995 – Wexford priest Fr Sean Fortune charged with child sex abuse.

January 1996 – Bishops publish new guidelines on child sex abuse cases – The Framework Document, otherwise known as ‘the green book’.

June 1997 – A Dublin priest received an 18-month jail sentence for sexually abusing a young girl during the 1970s.

July 1997 – Fr Brendan Smyth jailed in Dublin for 12 years for abusing children south of the border.

February 1998 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announces that mandatory reporting of child sex abuse will be introduced within lifetime of current government. (To date, this has still not happened.)

June 1998 – Irish priest Fr Patrick Maguire (Columban) jailed in London for child abuse (18 months).

June 1998 – Fr Ivan Payne jailed for sexual abuse of eight young boys. His two-year sentence is criticised for being too light.

July 1998 – Fr Gus Griffin (Holy Ghost Fathers) sentenced to seven years for abusing young boys.

July 1998 – Fr Thomas Naughton sentenced to three years for abusing four young altar boys.

March 1999 – Fr Sean Fortune commits suicide on the eve of his trial on multiple charges of child abuse.

June 1999 – Pope John Paul II rejects any linkage between child sexual abuse and priestly celibacy.

September 2001 – retired judge Gillian Hussey appointed by hierarchy to chair Church’s Child Protection Committee. Audit of all dioceses announced.

March 2002 – BBC television broadcasts Suing the Pope on the abuse of boys in the Ferns diocese by Fr Sean Fortune.

April 2002 – Bishop of Ferns Brendan Comiskey resigns in response to evidence that he covered up child sex abuse in his diocese.

April 2002 – Government announces establishment of independent inquiry into child abuse in the Ferns diocese.

June 2002 – Maynooth trustees announce inquiry into allegations of improper behaviour by its former vice-president, Monsignor Micheál Ledwith.

October 2002 – RTÉ’s Prime Time broadcasts Cardinal Secrets on the handling by a number of bishops of clerical child sex abuse allegations in the archdiocese of Dublin.

November 2002 – Government pledges to establish full independent judicial inquiry into Dublin archdiocese’s handling of abuse allegations.

December 2002 – Hierarchy disbands its own national audit committee.

January 2003 – Mervyn Rundle, abused by Fr Thomas Naughton, receives one of largest settlements to date, reported to be over €300,000.

May 2003 – Diarmuid Martin named as successor to Desmond Connell as Archbishop of Dublin.

April 2004 – Cardinal Desmond Connell steps down as Archbishop of Dublin.

October 2005 – Ferns Report is published, detailing extensive child abuse and cover-up.

November 2005 – Judge Yvonne Murphy appointed to head up Commission of Investigation into the Dublin archdiocese.

January 2008 – Cardinal Connell seeks to refuse access by the Commission of Investigation to over 5,000 documents which he claims are confidential. He eventually drops his challenge.

March 2009 – Bishop Magee of Cloyne steps aside from his duties after it is revealed he did not follow proper child protection guidelines. Government extends remit of Dublin Commission of Investigation to examine the diocese of Cloyne.

May 2009 – publication of Ryan Report on widespread abuse of children in Ireland’s institution.

They took out insurance, they knew it was happening, they covered it up, they didn’t report the crimes,
they got those crimes when reported swept under the carpet and when it looked like it was going to become public, they took out insurance against claims against them.

I never felt as much ire directed at the institution of the catholic church as what I do today.
I could accept that there were rotten apples in the priesthood, I could accept that it was a different era.

I could accept that there was not the same guidelines on child protection that we have now but
the church took out insurance.

I don’t think any amount of insurance policies will ever be able to cover for the counseling and therapy of those who were abuse and of their families who have suffered either from the revelations or from having lived a life with someone who was damaged from being a victim of clerical child sex abuse as a partner or as a parent.

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