18 March 2010
Statement of Bishop Séamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry, regarding article in Belfast Telegraph of 18 March 2010
On the afternoon of St. Patrick’s Day, 17th March 2010, my office received an email from the Belfast Telegraph, which contained a series of questions to which responses were requested by 5.00pm. The issues raised were serious and required careful consideration, given the fact that the allegation referred to a period quite some time ago. For this reason a considered response could not be given by the short deadline required by the newspaper.
The family involved brought the allegation to the attention of the diocese in January 1994.
A professional assessment of the priest was carried out.
The diocese notified Social Services in May 1995.
The priest left parish ministry in June 1995 and remains out of parish ministry.
The bishop met with senior members of the RUC in October 1995 regarding the matter.
Bishop Edward Daly, Bishop Séamus Hegarty and the priest were sued by the person making the allegation. After a protracted period of time, the priest paid £12,000 to her. The diocese made no contribution to the money paid by the priest. The case against Bishop Daly and Bishop Hegarty was dismissed. A confidentiality agreement was not proposed by the diocese, but was proposed to the diocese by one of the other parties, and, to facilitate a settlement, the diocese agreed. This agreement was in the year 2000, five years after the civil authorities were first aware of the matter.
It is important to note that the diocese is today committed to the standards and guidance in the Safeguarding Children document; this involves a full and immediate communication of allegations to the civil authorities.
Issued, on behalf of Bishop Séamus Hegarty, by Fr. Michael Canny
Martin Long, Director of Communications 086 172 7678