Eugene Greene affair
Votfi acting co-oridinator Seán Ó Conaill noted that the period referred to in the bishops’ statement covered the years 1975-2004, which was investigated by the Murphy commission. He said: "During the period 1982-1994 Bishop Séamus Hegarty was Bishop of Raphoe. The prolific child rapist Eugene Greene served as a priest in Raphoe in that period. Gardaí did not become aware of his crimes against 26 young men until 1997."
Role of Bishop Hegarty
The current Bishop of Derry, Dr. Séamus Hegarty, was Bishop of the Diocese of Raphoe in 1982-1994, at a time when one of his priests, Father Eugene Greene, managed to rape 26 boys and young men. The Garda were told about Greene in 1997. In a RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta interview in 2002, Bishop Hegarty said he never knew of Greene's crimes when he was Bishop of Raphoe.
Crimes allegedly known since 1976
A 2008 book alleges that Greene's criminality was known to clergy in Raphoe "at least as early as 1976". The Irish branch of Voice of the Faithful is pressing for further clarification. In November 2009, Bishop Hegarty expressed concern after 17 priests in the neighbouring Derry diocese were found to have child sexual abuse allegations filed against them.
2006 policy against abuse
In 2006, the diocese of Raphoe adopted a policy in order to prevent further cases of child abuse. The report, entitled Child Protection in the Diocese of Raphoe, sought to build greater public awareness in order to break the social taboo about investigating allegations of clerical pederasty.
Challenges from Votfi
Bishop Hegarty has been challenged to account for his handling of clerical child abuse allegations when he was Bishop of Raphoe from 1982-1994. The Voice of the Faithful Ireland (Votfi) said in a statement: “On December 9th, 2009, in response to the publication of the Murphy report on clerical child sex abuse in Dublin archdiocese, the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference announced: ‘We are shamed by the extent to which child sexual abuse was covered up in the Archdiocese of Dublin and recognise that this indicates a culture that was widespread in the church’.”
Calls for a commission
Dr. Philip Boyce, the Bishop of Raphoe, has said he would welcome an audit or any intervention which would help ensure the safety of children. This proposal was first put forward by retired Garda Martin Ridge, who investigated the child abuse carried out by Eugene Greene. Boyce has previously said that he was not made aware of child sexual abuse allegations against Fr. Greene in 1995.
- Cleaner ‘abused children in church’
- Bishop Hegarty challenged on handling of abuse allegations
- Irish Times 4 January 2010, p.6.
- Ridge M. & Cunningham G., Breaking the Silence Gill & Macmillan, Dublin 2008).
- 17 Derry priests faced sex abuse claims - Bishop Hegarty
- Child Protection In The Diocese of Raphoe, 2006
- Statement issued by the Irish Bishops’ Conference at the end of the first day of their Winter General Meeting in Maynooth
- Bishop of Raphoe would welcome child abuse investigation
- Commission 'must be set up' for Raphoe
- Statement from Bishop Philip Boyce, Bishop of Raphoe