Abuse Cases: 'A Litany of Abuse and Gross Indecency'


Fr Donal Collins

In 1966, Fr Donal Collins, a teacher in St Peter's secondary school, was transferred to a parish in London after complaints that he was abusing boys in the school's attic dormitory at night.

Two years later, Collins returned to teaching at St Peter's. In 1974 he was placed in charge of swimming lessons. In 1988, he was appointed principal of St Peter's by Bishop Brendan Comiskey.

Fourteen former pupils have since reported abuse by Collins, dating from the 1960s through to the early 1990s, including being masturbated and forced to conduct oral sex.

Collins admitted to abuse in 1993. He was charged in 1995, and served one year in prison, after which he returned to his home in Ferns and resumed restricted practice as a priest. He was dismissed as a priest by the Pope in 2004, after application by Bishop Eamonn Walsh.

Fr James Doyle

Fr James Doyle's ordination was postponed for one year in 1973, following a complaint that he had attempted to molest a student while drunk. After subsequent complaints that he had attempted to abuse hitchhikers, and that he had abused an altar boy, Bishop Donal Herlihy sent him for a psychologist's assessment.

The psychologist reported that Doyle "has had a history of auto-eroticism and homo- and heterosexual behaviour" and recommended he be moved away from his role working with young people. This was not done.

Doyle was charged and convicted of indecent assault on a 12 year old boy in the early 1990s, and received a three-month suspended sentence. He attended counselling in England and subsequently worked as chaplain in a secondary school there. Doyle was dismissed as a priest in 2004.

Fr Sean Fortune

"Stephen" (the Inquiry assigned fictitious first names to complainants) said he was violently raped by Fr Sean Fortune in the showers at St Peter's in the 1970s, when he was 13. Fortune was accused of abusing 24 other people, two of whom committed suicide.

Complaints about Fortune were made as early as 1976. Bishop Herlihy sent Fortune for psychological assessment, which found that his behaviour "gives rise to grave concern".

In 1982, Fortune was appointed as curate to Poulfor parish, where he established youth clubs in his basement. Parishioners complained to the bishop and to the Papal Nuncio, alluding to sexual incidents. The Nuncio replied that the Holy See had been informed, and had no further involvement.

Bishop Comiskey removed Fortune from Poulfor in 1987, and appointed him to another parish at Ballymurn, where there were further complaints. Fortune continued to teach until his arrest in 1995. He killed himself in 1999, while facing 66 charges of child sex abuse and rape.

Fr James Grennan

In 1988, ten girls, aged 12 to 13, alleged they had been sexually molested by Fr James Grennan on the altar of Monageer parish church, during confession. The South Eastern Health Board interviewed seven of them and found their allegations to be credible.

The gardai were informed. The Inquiry found their response to be "wholly unsatisfactory". Grennan continued in his role of manager of the national school. He died in 1994.

In 2002, Bishop Walsh was contacted by "Deborah", who said she had been abused by Grennan from the age of five. Deborah's mother told the inquiry that Fr Grennan had stayed overnight at their house, and sometimes in the same bed as Deborah. Deborah committed suicide in 2002, aged 31. Bishop Walsh subsequently publicly apologised for abuse perpetrated by Grennan in Monogheer.

Canon Martin Clancy

"Ciara" said she was abused by Canon Martin Clancy from the age of 11, in 1971. Aged 14, she became pregnant with his child. She gave birth to a girl in 1975.

Four other women detailed abuse by Clancy, which in one case started when the girl was eight, over a period of almost thirty years. At various points during this time, members of the Garda, the teaching profession, the medical profession and the Church were aware of rumours and suspicions concerning Clancy, but no action was ever taken. Individual priests received allegations of abuse by Clancy but did not report them to the Bishop. Clancy died in 1993.

Fr "Iota" (the Inquiry gave fictitious surnames to 14 unnamed priests, for reasons of confidentiality)

"Pamela" was 13 or 14 when she met Fr Iota, a chaplain at her youth club, in the early 1970s. Pamela later told her GP she had been sexually abused by Fr Iota. The GP told the Inquiry he had informed Bishop Herlihy at the time.

At around 16, Pamela attempted suicide. Fr Iota was then transferred from Ferns to Westminster. Bishop Herlihy wrote to the Cardinal at Westminster that Iota "had some involvement with a girl, which is now happily terminated... He is a gentle refined young man".

Fr Iota subsequently returned to serve as a curate and national school chaplain, manager and teacher in Ferns throughout the 1980s. Pamela made a formal complaint in May 2005, following which Bishop Walsh removed Fr Iota from active ministry.