A newly released section of the Murphy report has detailed for the first time how five of the country's most notorious clerical child abusers forged close links with one another as they raped and molested their victims.
The revelation, which prominent abuse survivor Andrew Madden said "sends a chill down the spine", has prompted fresh concerns about the existence of a paedophile ring within the Dublin archdiocese at the time.
The five priests involved are the Ballyfermot-based "singing priest" Fr Tony Walsh, who was the subject of chapter 19 of the report published last Friday,
Fr Bill Carney, Fr Noel Reynolds, Fr Francis McCarthy and Fr Patrick Maguire. A previously unpublished section of the main Murphy commission report, which along with the whole of chapter 19 was held back for legal reasons until last week, outlines how Walsh used a room provided to him by Fr Noel Reynolds in Kilmore to abuse his victims after Reynolds gave him a key.
It then goes on to outline how Walsh took over responsibility for leading altar boy trips to Clonliffe College from two other priests who would subsequently be convicted of child abuse, Fr Bill Carney and Fr Francis McCarthy. These two men, the report notes, brought children on holidays and shared accommodation with two separate complainants. "A boy who was initially abused by Fr McCarthy was subsequently abused by Fr Carney," it states.
Finally, the section notes how Carney abused children at swimming pools and was "sometimes accompanied to swimming pools" by a fifth child abuser named in the report, Fr Patrick Maguire.
The publication of the second half of section 1.77 of the report last week, which contains the references to Walsh's links with the other priests, means for the first time the extent of the interaction between all five abusers, as established by judge Yvonne Murphy and her team, has now become clear.
Madden said the revelation added "another dimension" to what we have previously known. "The only thing that is missing is a record of the private conversations between these men," he told the Sunday Tribune. "Paedophile rings are informal by nature. While somebody who is determined to abuse children will do so regardless, if there are people there who know the other will not say anything, then it facilitates the sexual abuse of children. "It is certainly no coincidence that these five men appear together in the report and knew each other."
The Murphy report published last year found "no direct evidence" of a paedophile ring. However, it found "worrying connections" between a number of priests, although up until now the suppression of the references to Tony Walsh meant the extent of these links was unclear.
Meanwhile, auxiliary Dublin bishop Eamonn Walsh, whose offer of resignation was refused by the pope earlier this year, yesterday refused to comment on chapter 19 of the report. While the chapter noted that he suggested to his fellow bishops that the civil authorities should be informed about Tony Walsh's "homosexual orientation", neither he nor any other bishop did this at the time.
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