Dr Seamus Hegarty’s name was included in court papers
The Catholic Church in Londonderry has said police
were told about sex abuse claims against a priest at the centre of an
alleged compensation cover-up.
The Bishop of Derry has been accused of being involved in a compensation deal to cover up alleged child sex abuse.
Seamus Hegarty was one of three priests named in a confidential civil
settlement after an eight-year-old girl was abused over a decade from
Spokesman Fr Michael Canny said police were told about the case in the 1990s.
civil action was settled out of court in December 2000 and was signed
by lawyers on behalf of Dr Hegarty, Bishop Edward Daly and the alleged
abuser without admission of liability.
“At this early stage, from
the indications from those trawling through the documents, I am of the
mind that the police and social services are aware of these allegations
from perhaps the mid-90s,” Fr Canny, the diocesan spokesman, said.
allegations must be dealt with by the PSNI, in this jurisdiction, or
the Garda Siochana in other jurisdiction or the social services and
reported the minute, or as soon as possible, after they are notified to
the bishop or to the priest.”
The Belfast Telegraph reported £12,000 was paid to the alleged victim, subject to a confidentiality agreement.
Bishop Daly was named in the court papers, but at the time his duties were being carried out by another bishop due to illness.
Bishop Hegarty has yet to comment on the allegations.
Religious affairs presenter William Crawley
We are told, that the closest
the priest in question came to an admission of guilt was a handwritten
letter, attached to the civil agreement, in which he apologised to the
alleged victim’s family for “for any pain I caused you through
inappropriate gesture or mistaken signs of affection”.
If an alleged paedophile
describes his actions as a “mistaken sign of affection”, could that be a
sign that they are still unwilling to fully accept the may have done
There was a handwritten letter asking for “some forgiveness” from the
alleged abuser in which he offered the family his “deepest apology for
any pain I caused you through inappropriate gesture or mistaken signs of
The girl’s father said that they had not gone to the police because “it was not the culture” in Derry at the time to do so.
Elliott, who is chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding
Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, said that he did not know
the details of the specific case but that out of court settlements were
“If any situation comes to light involving a
child then the policy of the church, and the absolute commitment that is
given, is that that information will be conveyed to the appropriate
state authorities, the PSNI and the social services,” he said.
2005 Bishop Hegarty disclosed details of the extent of child sex abuse
allegations against priests in his diocese, revealing that 26 had been
accused in 40 years. Apologised
In a possible
reference to the case reported on by the Belfast Telegraph the bishop
said that one of the cases involved a priest making a personal
settlement with a complainant, without admission of liability, and that
the priest was not in active ministry.
It comes as the head of Ireland’s Catholics apologised for
As a priest in 1975 Cardinal Sean Brady was at meetings where
children signed vows of silence over complaints against paedophile
priest Fr Brendan Smyth.
Smyth was eventually convicted of dozens of offences against children.
despite allegations being previously investigated by church officials,
including Cardinal Brady, it was almost 20 years before he was brought
He said he wanted to apologise to “all those who feel I have let them down”.
Wednesday Cardinal Brady said that for the sake of abuse survivors and
the church “we have to stop the drip, drip, drip of revelations of
Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI has announced that on
Friday he will sign his long awaited pastoral letter dealing with
paedophilia in Ireland.
He said in recent months the church in
Ireland had been “rocked by the crisis of abuse of minors” and hoped his
letter would “help repentance, healing and renewal”.
Bloody Sunday priest Edward Daly showed “enormous courage to be a peacemaker”, mourners at his funeral have been told.
Donal McKeown told the congregation at St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry
that the retired bishop was an “an apostle of mercy”.
The then Fr Daly’s photograph became an enduring image of Bloody Sunday in 1972.
“His moral courage was evident in his passionate struggle against violence and injustice,” Bishop McKeown said.
takes enormous courage to be a peacemaker, and he was an apostle for
mercy, whether as a curate, as a bishop, or as a chaplain in the Foyle
Dr Daly died on Monday aged 82.
McKeown told thousands of mourners that love had transformed Dr Daly’s
“blood-stained piece of cloth” on Bloody Sunday into an “unforgettable
symbol of divine compassion”.
The image of the then Fr Daly waving a handkerchief
over one of the Bloody Sunday victims, Jack Duddy, was one of the most
iconic images of the Troubles.
we are grateful for Edward Daly and thousands of others across our
community and churches who took risks and paid the price that peace
might take roots in our hearts and communities,” Bishop McKeown said.
‘Peace and justice’
A message from Pope Francis was read at the beginning of the service.
It said: “Recalling Bishop Daly’s generous and
dedicated episcopal ministry in the service of peace and justice, His
Holiness joins you in prayerful thanksgiving for his life and in
commending his soul to the merciful love of God our father.”
Dr Daly was a curate at the Londonderry cathedral on Bloody Sunday, having been a priest in the city since 1962.
He was appointed Bishop of Derry in 1974.
A number of political and church leaders from across
the island of Ireland attended the service on Thursday including
Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, former SDLP
leaders John Hume and Mark Durkan, as well as Irish President Michael D
The Derry musician Phil Coulter was also present.
He was forced into full retirement in 1994 after he
suffered a stroke, but he continued in the role of chaplain to Derry’s
Foyle Hospice until February 2016.
Bishop Daly made headlines in 2011 when he said there needed to be a place in the modern Catholic Church for married priests.
He addressed the controversial issue in his book about his life in the Church, A Troubled See.
Allowing clergymen to marry would ease the church’s problems, he said.
The bishop received the Freedom of the City of Derry in 2015.