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The sexual abuse scandal in Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora diocese is a significant episode in the series of Catholic sex abuse cases in Ireland and the United States.

Illicit affair revealed in 1992

Bishop Eamonn Casey had had a sexual relationship with Annie Murphy, an American divorcée and together they had had a son, Peter, born in 1974. It is alleged that he used church funds to fulfill his maintenance obligations. When the matter became public in May 1992, Bishop Casey resigned his post. He then left for a missionary position in Ecuador. It is said that the church funds were repaid on his behalf by friends.

At the time it was regarded as a major scandal, as Casey was a prominent and outspoken figure in the Catholic Church in Ireland. The sense of shock was also heightened by the fact that Casey was popular and respected as a progressive church leader. This was widely regarded as a pivotal moment when the Roman Catholic hierarchy began to lose its considerable influence over the society and politics of the Republic of Ireland. Many considered the Casey scandal "the straw that broke the camel's back" with regard to the Church's power in Ireland, especially when it was followed in 1993 by revelations that another popular priest, Father Michael Cleary of Dublin, had had a nearly 30-year relationship and two sons with Phyllis Hamilton, who ostensibly worked as his housekeeper.

New allegations against Casey in 2005

Casey was investigated in connection with 13 allegations of sexual abuse reported in November 2005 by a woman, a native of Limerick but living in the UK, concerning incidents that allegedly took place more than 30 years earlier. A Garda Síochána inquiry ensued but the Director of Public Prosecutions decided in August 2006 not to bring charges against Casey.[1][2] The Irish bishops will now determine if Casey can be restored to full priestly ministry through their own internal procedures.

New shocks for congregations

In subsequent years, serious sexual crimes involving other Irish priests have become known, and the scandal around these exceeded that around Casey's actions.

Gardaí investigation into the matter

On 20 January 2006, it was announced that Casey would be returning to Ireland. Then on 22 January 2006, Casey said that he would delay his return until his name was cleared by a Gardaí of a new allegation of improper conduct (relating to his time in Ireland). However, he returned to the Republic of Ireland on 5 February 2006 and resides in Shanaglish, a village near Gort County Galway.[3]

McCoy Report

The McCoy Report, for which investigation in the Galway diocese was begun in 1999, with results made public in December 2007, found that eleven brothers and seven other staff members were alleged to have abused 21 intellectually-disabled children in residential care during the period 1965–1998. By 2007, two members of staff were convicted of abuse, eight had died and the rest had retired. It emerged that the Order had attempted to transfer at least one accused brother to another place.[4][5]

Dublin Bishop Drennan pressured to resign

Since November 2009, many have called for Bishop Drennan to resign because of a sexual abuse scandal in the Dublin archdiocese. Although Drennan was investigated for his involvement and association, the Murphy Report on the investigation did not find that he had mishandled child sexual abuse allegations while serving as an auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese of Dublin.[6]

There were further calls on 27 December for the resignation of Bishop Drennan following his insistence on 27 December that he does not intend doing so. He has also been invited to meet up to 60 survivors of child sex abuse by priests in the Dublin Diocese. Bishop Drennan is the only one of the serving bishops mentioned in the Murphy report who has not yet offered to resign. Late on Christmas Eve, both Dublin Auxiliary Bishops Eamonn Oliver Walsh and Raymond Field said they had offered their resignations to Pope Benedict XVI.[7]

Support from Galway clergy

More recently, clergy of Galway Diocese have stood behind Dr. Drennan and have supported his decision not to resign, as have heads of local religious orders. Local TD Frank Fahy has said Dr Drennan should not resign. In a Galway Bay FM (local radio) poll, over 93% of Galway people supported Dr Drennan's refusal to stand down. [8]

Bishop Drennan has said that he does not feel disturbed by being mentioned in the Dublin diocesan report. [9] Calls have been made for the bishop’s resignation also through newly launched online and Facebook petitions.[10][11]


  1. "Bishop Casey cleared of sex abuse charges". 29 August 2006.
  2. "Casey cleared of sex claim by gardaí". Irish Independent. 30 August 2006.
  3. Banville, John (16 October 2008). "Erin Go Bust". New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  4. "'Vulnerable people' let down, says Minister". The Irish Times. 2007-12-12. pp. 6. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
  5. Irish Times 4 January 2010, p.13.
  6. "Pressure on bishops to resign". Irish Times. 28 November 2009. Retrieved 28 November 2009. "Pressure on the five bishops who still hold office and whose handling of clerical child sex abuse was addressed by the Dublin diocesan report increased ..."[dead link]
  7. [1]
  8. "Bishop of Galway stands firm". 27 December 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2009.
  9. "Drennan untroubled at mention in report". Irish Times. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2009.
  10. [2]
  11. [3]
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