Northern Ireland news

Niece of disgraced Bishop Eamonn Casey claims he abused her from age of five

Bishop Eamonn Casey who died in 2017. Picture by PA
Paul Ainsworth

A niece of the late Bishop Eamonn Casey has accused the disgraced cleric of abusing her as a child.

Fresh allegations against the former Bishop of Galway, who died in 2017 at the age of 89, were made by his niece, Patricia Donovan, who in an interview with the Irish Mail on Sunday claimed she had been abused by him for more than a decade from the age of five.

The newspaper also reported that Casey paid settlements to two other women who accused him of abusing them as children in the 1950s and 1960s, while a third settlement was made following his death.

Patricia Donovan (56) said the abuse occurred across the dioceses of Galway, Kerry and Limerick. She reported the offences to UK police in 2005, but no charges were brought.

Casey fathered a child with US woman Annie Murphy in the 1970s, before she published details of their affair in a book titled Forbidden Fruit in 1993, prompting his resignation.

Describing her treatment at the hands of her uncle as "horrific", Ms Donovan, who lives in England, said: "It was rape, everything you imagine. It was the worst kind of abuse."

Ms Donovan, through her solicitor, discovered that one of Casey's settlements was made through the Residential Institutions Redress Board, established to compensate victims of institutional and clerical abuse.

The claim is the first time it has emerged that Casey is among those named to the Board, which to date has paid over €970 million in compensation.

After Ms Donovan's complaint, Casey was sent back to Galway after being quizzed by the staff in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. He had been sent to England to work as a hospital chaplain in 1998 after spending six years in South America following the revelations of Annie Murphy.

Responding to the allegations, Canon Kieran O'Brien, who was the main child protection officer for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, said: "I am confident we followed all correct procedures at the time."

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