145 priests 'suspected of abuse'

The biggest Catholic Archdiocese in Ireland has revealed how many priests are suspected of abusing children.

BBC News/May 2, 2007

In the archdiocese of Dublin, 145 men have been identified in an investigation dating back to 1940.

Specific allegations have been made against 74 priests from the Dublin archdiocese and suspicions raised about 10 more, church officials said.

Further abuse allegations have been made against 61 others who worked there in recent decades.

Eight priests have so far been convicted and three priests accused of abuse are currently before the courts.

There have been 112 civil court actions brought against 32 Dublin priests or priests who held appointments in the archdiocese, 72 of which have been concluded and 40 are still ongoing.

The archdiocese said the total cost of legal settlements with victims so far is 7.8m euros.

Among the questions likely to be asked of the archdiocese is whether priests were moved between parishes to disguise their abuse.

In 2005, a government inquiry into another Irish diocese - Ferns in the south-east of the country - reported more than 100 complaints of child abuse against at least 21 priests there.

It said that between 1960 and 1980, the then bishop of Ferns, Donal Herlihy, treated child sexual abuse in his diocese as an "exclusively moral problem".

Priests who were accused of abuse were transferred to a different post or different diocese for a time, but were later returned to their former position, the report found.

A second senior clergyman was also heavily criticised.

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