Finian McGrath: 'it is a concern'

CONCERNS have been raised that a Sydney-based Irish priest ? who the church found guilty of sexually abusing two girls – continues to travel between Ireland and Australia and is not being monitored.

Two years ago, Fr Finian Egan was allowed to go home to Ireland and celebrate mass despite being banned from doing so in Australia while he was under church investigation.

Egan was subsequently found by the church to have abused two girls. He denies all of the allegations against him.

A church investigation found that Egan groped two girls over several years in the 1980s, but despite this, he was praised at a public mass in Australia last year for his 50 years in the priesthood.

Fresh concerns have now emerged that Egan may be trying to carry out church services in Ireland as he regularly visits Ireland.

Independent TD Finian McGrath raised his concerns about Fr Egan's activities in Ireland in the Dáil recently. "It is a concern if he's here and not being monitored and it's been expressed to me that he may still be celebrating mass and at other church functions," said McGrath.

"In the eyes of his own church, he's guilty, so he should be monitored carefully here."

In response, justice minister Dermot Ahern said that all registered sex offenders, under 2001 legislation, must notify gardaí if they enter Ireland.

However, as Egan has not been convicted of sexual abuse, he is not on the sex offenders' register.

In July, Bishop David Walker of Sydney admitted to TV network ABC that he had not informed church authorities in Ireland that Egan was under investigation and banned from ministry in Australia.

In correspondence received by McGrath from a citizen in Australia in recent weeks, it was stated that Egan continued to travel back and forth between Australia and Ireland and "conduct[ed] church services including weddings, baptisms and funerals and put the Irish community at risk. I have tried to alert people over there as to the great risk the Australian Catholic church is putting on the Irish. However, nothing has been done."