Paedophile ring ‘abused children in State homes’


Members of gardai, clergy and civil service infiltrated childcare system

JIM CUSACK Sunday May 31 2009

A well-organised paedophile ring involving civil servants, ex-clergy, members of political parties and even gardai infiltrated the child-care system in Ireland.

Now campaigners believe that there were links between the Dublin-based ring and members of a well-organised paedophile ring which infiltrated the child-care system in north Wales, and which was finally exposed and broken up in the mid-1990s.

While the Catholic Church has been vilified in the Ryan Report there are now calls for an inquiry into the role of non-clerical abusers in state-run institutions

The Government has been taking a more severe legal attitude to victims of abuse in State-run schools and other institutions than the Catholic Church has to victims of clerical abuse, they say.

The Department of Education has “taken on” one such victim, Louise O’Keeffe, who was raped by the headmaster of her school in west Cork when she was eight years old in 1973. Although former primary school headmaster Leo Hickey was convicted of multiple rape and abuse of children, Ms O’Keeffe was left with a legal bill of €500,000 after the State successfully fought her claim for compensation.

Hundreds of victims of rape and abuse by non-clerical teachers or care workers in the State’s employ have received letters from the Dept of Education threatening that their cases will be fought.

Ms O’Keeffe, the High Court heard, suffered “catastrophic injuries” at the hands of the paedophile rapist Hickey — who nevertheless continues to be paid his State pension of €26,000 a year.

Among the figures identified but never exposed because of insufficient evidence is a retired senior civil servant who would have the power to suppress indictments and reports on sex offenders.

Another is a retired former senior garda in Dublin who had well-known links to senior clergy and who was accused of raping a 13-year-old boy. The garda was transferred from a city station after the allegation but was never questioned or charged.

And at least one senior care worker remained in public employ until the mid-1990s, despite repeated claims by boys that he was an abuser and brought paedophiles from Britain and Northern Ireland to care homes to abuse boys.

Many boys who passed through the state-run homes later became teenage prostitutes. Several have made allegations about a ring of apparently rich and well-connected paedophiles with access to the homes in the 1980s.

In an ironic twist, an Irish woman who has been raising the issue of abuse of children in State-run institutions in Dublin, Loretta Byrne, was effectively forced from her job in the Department of Education in 1988 after she persisted in seeking action about allegations of abuse of boys in care.

Among the boys who claimed to have been raped in the late 1980s was Brendan O’Donnell, who went on to murder Imelda Riney, her three-year-old son Liam, and Fr Joe Walsh in 1994.

One home where Loretta Byrne says there was strong evidence of abuse was Trudder House in Wicklow, which was opened and run directly by the State in the 1970s specifically for Traveller children.

One of the first directors of Trudder House in Newtownmountkennedy was Duncan McInnes from Scotland, who raped and abused dozens of children in the home. He fled the country after complaints were made in 1981. He later died in Canada.

Paedophile David Murray was forced to leave the Sisters of Charity in Kilkenny in the mid-1970s after a boy said Murray had raped him. Rather than report this to the gardai, the Sisters helped Murray find a new job at Scoil Ard Mhuire at Oberstown, Co Dublin, where he worked for several years. Murray is believed to have had links with Welsh paedophiles who travelled between here and north Wales and even found jobs for some in State care homes here. He was eventually convicted of buggery and gross indecency and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in 1997.

By the time he was arrested and questioned in the mid-1990s, Murray had raped and abused boys in a succession of homes here and, it is believed, Wales and possibly Northern Ireland. Details of all this were excluded from the report which concentrated almost exclusively on the abuses in Church-run institutions.

Ms Byrne said: “The Government has been aware of the abuse that went on in state institutions for a very long time. [Judge] Mary Laffoy resigned because the Department of Education would not give her papers. They must release these papers if the victims in these places are to get the kind of closure that the clerical abuse victims have had in the redress process.”


I think we all knew / that paedophilia was not and is not confined to clergy.

It’s a very serious activity for anyone to be part of – especially police and lawyers who are supposed to uphold the law – and doctors who are vowed to the protection of life and limb.

It is a vile poison in society.


BISHOP Comiskey said he had made only three trips to Thailand in the early 1990s, and not the six reported in some newspapers…

ANDY POLLAK The Irish Tomes 1996,

BISHOP Comiskey said he had made only three trips to Thailand in the early 1990s, and not the six reported in some newspapers. He had been there about six times in the past 35 years, including some “long before I became a bishop”.

On one occasion he had stayed “practically on top of a mountain with another Irish bishop”. On another he was on the way to give a mission in Japan where he had always dreamed of going as a missionary. Two further trips were with his diocesan secretary, Father Tommy Brennan.

He had never stayed in a hotel costing £800 per night. That price for two weeks, plus a £4,300 first class return flight to Bangkok, represented two years’ salary for him.

He said an Irish travel agency was running bargains at that time for £1.200 for a fortnight’s holiday, and he had paid a couple of hundred pounds extra for a single room.

Thousands of Irish people had gone to Thailand at such prices. He had met 50 Irish people in the Royal Cliff Hotel at East Coast Siam and not nearby Pattaya or Bangkok including 19 from Wexford. He hoped that the Clare hurling team, which had holidayed in Thailand, would not be accused as he had been.

He responded to another questioner “If you’re asking was I out consorting with prostitutes, I was not.”

He said that he was never arrested and jailed at Bangkok airport. He had not been allowed “through the immigration” there having lost his passport, and had had to wait two days because it was a bank holiday in Ireland.

In the end, he was given a US passport after ringing the papal nuncio in Bangkok.

He did not think such holidays were an extravagance. They were his only hobby and he felt he was entitled to use gifts from friends to finance them.

But “seeing that such a big issue has been made of it, it would destroy any further holidays I would intend to have in Thailand,” he added.

Bishop Comiskey began the question and answer session of the press conference by saying he had handed the file containing the newspaper allegations, made against him in his absence, to his solicitor.

He was not doing this out of any sense of revenge but, referring to the libel case taken by Marian Finucane of RTE, he added “I think you’ll agree that my good name and my good character is also essential to my office as bishop.”

He admitted that he did not always act in accordance with the 1987 Department of Health guidelines on reporting child sex abuse. In one case he had sent an accuser and an accused to their respective doctors, telling the doctors to look up the guidelines. The doctors sent them back, saying they did not know what the bishop was talking about.

He said there was at least one case, “an old case”, which he did not report to the Garda, thinking that it could be handled by removing the priest and treating him. Even as late as last year he had had “a very vigorous argument” with one priest who said he would never report or “inform” on another priest.

Bishop Comiskey said that there had been six cases of allegations against named priests in his diocese.

He had removed one priest to allow an investigation to take place. After “vigorous representation” from his therapist, however, he had reappointed him alter two years. He would not have done that today.

In another, he had removed a priest but the Human Life Institute in Connecticut, “supposed to be one of the best treatment centres in the world”, strongly recommended that this priest “must be given back his post”. He had refused and had come in for “considerable abuse”.

Asked whether he had ever been warned before Father Jim Doyle’s conviction for child sex abuse in 1990 that he was a risk to children, Dr Comiskey said he was not to the best of his recollection, but he asked to be able to check his records before he gave a definitive response.

Asked why he had used his nephew a Dublin solicitor also called Brendan Comiskey to buy an apartment in Donnybrook in 1988, he said it was because it was “a personal purchase” using his own money the diocesan solicitor had, however, been kept informed.

He said £18,000 had been his own money and the 75 per cent balance had been a Bank of Ireland loan. In those days, before he started to receive a separate salary of £20,000 per year, he would have been paid out of the diocese’s Central Fund, and the cheques would have been drawn on that fund.

Asked why the diocesan debt had risen sharply in 1992 and 1993, Bishop Comiskey said one of the principal reasons was that there had been “a huge bill” for seminarians’ fees, which had risen from around £200 per year in the 1970s to £4,000 per year in the 1990s.


Bishop Comiskey had a massive alcohol problem in those days.


I think Father Beennan went to the USA and became a Cistercian monk.

Anyone know where he is now?