Peter McCloskey's struggle

  • 25 April 2006
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For nine months in 1980, Peter McCloskey was abused by Denis Daly, a priest in the local parish of Christ the King, at Caherdavin, Limerick.


Peter McCloskey was an altar boy, and Denis Daly raped him in the sacristy before and after masses. Peter McCloskey told no one about it at the time.

In early 2002, following public statements by the Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray, and other Catholic hierarchy, encouraging victims of abuse to come forward, Peter McCloskey made contact with the Diocese of Limerick.

Later that year, he told his mother, Mary McCloskey, about the abuse for the first time. He never told her the details, but subsequently told his older brother, Joseph, about the rapes.

From 2002 until his death by suicide on 1 April this year, Peter McCloskey fought to achieve some resolution of his case. At the same time, he suffered from repeated bouts of mental illness. He made a number of attempts at suicide and self-harmed. He was hospitalised in a psychiatric unit for the first time in November 2002.

After returning from Australia in early 2004, Peter McCloskey was again hospitalised. He described this in a letter to Paul Bailey:

"I spent a month in a high-observation cell due to an attempted suicide and grievous self-mutilation. I am presently quite distraught by these recent developments but none the less it would be very foolish to assume that I am gone away."

He wrote that he was seeking "long-term commitment" from the diocese, and his "inclusion in the church starting a whole new initiative to deal with my fellows and me in the spirit of the words and teachings of Jesus Christ".

On 30 March, Peter McCloskey took part in a mediation meeting with representatives of the diocese of Limerick and lawyers for both sides. Two days later, on 1 April, he killed himself.

On 31 March, according to the Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray (speaking on Prime Time on RTÉ 1 on 13 April), the solicitor for the diocese faxed a letter to Peter McCloskey's solicitor saying "that we were very sad that this thing appeared to have broken down, that the question of an apology and the question of producing a form that he could show to other people and make public, that they were not problems". The diocese has not released this fax. Colm O'Gorman of One in Four, who was involved in the mediation process, has said he "does not recognise the truth of the Bishop's statement".