Tuesday 12 December 2017

Why, Mr Ahern, is this man living it up in the sun while his victim's mother still suffers?

Sex abuse priest Bill Carney was tracked down this week, enjoying the high life in the Canary Islands. But the mother of one of his alleged victims can't rest until we take action to bring him to justice

The woman who sat in front of me was in her 80s. She was small in stature, gentle and quietly spoken. Her daughter told me that I might need to speak up when asking her questions because her hearing had deteriorated with age.

When we began the radio interview, Bridie Dwyer's voice was clear, strong, dignified and powerful. She told me how, in 2003, her son Paul told her he had been raped by Fr Bill Carney in Ayrfield parish in Dublin.

He was aged 31 and had a difficult adult life. When the gardai told Paul the following year that they could not prosecute Carney, Paul was devastated and he died by suicide.

When the Murphy Report into clerical sexual abuse was published last year, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern vowed that paedophile priests would be brought to justice. "They must come to know", he said, "that there is no hiding place."

Bill Carney is not hiding. He has been swanning around England and Scotland for the past 10 years -- married and running a family-friendly guesthouse. He is currently in the Canary Islands.

Paul Dwyer is dead. His family is haunted and tormented. But Carney is free to do as he pleases.

The former priest was found guilty of two indecent assault offences and placed on probation. The Murphy Report found that there were complaints against him in relation to 32 named individuals, but there may have been many more.

Paul Dwyer's mother told me that she remembers him asking if he could go on a sleep over at Fr Carney's house when he was a young teenager. She was reluctant to allow him, but he pleaded with her, saying that his friends would be there, too. Carney had a video player -- an unusual device over 20 years ago and irresistibly attractive to children. At 2am that night, he came home. He looked upset but didn't want to talk about what happened.

It took Paul almost 20 years to tell Bridie what happened. He sat in the armchair in their living room, and told her Fr Carney had raped him. The close-knit family supported him and he went to the gardai. When the DPP said no action could be taken, Paul couldn't cope and took his own life.

Bill Carney was shielded by the Catholic Church and moved from parish to parish, he was aided and abetted in his crimes by a hierarchy determined to avoid scandal at all costs.

Bridie Dwyer is now an elderly woman. Both her life and that of Paul's siblings have been permanently scarred by his suffering as a child, torment as an adult and untimely death.

Bill Carney's evil and the Church's collusion in hiding him from the law has robbed them of justice. What sort of decent society can allow this family to continue in their suffering without making some attempt to bring this monster, Carney, to justice?

Not only has Paul died, most likely because of what happened to him as a teenager, but others were put at risk when it was decided that this evil man should not be prosecuted.

If Minister Dermot Ahern truly meant what he said when he told us that the collar would not shield anyone from the law, then Bill Carney must be pursued and investigated until he can be put behind bars.

Bridie is a decent and strong woman. You can be sure that she is not someone who wants to talk about the death of her son publicly, but she is prepared to do it. We owe her a debt of gratitude and Paul's memory and the other Carney victims must be served by the law.

Only the relentless pursuit of Carney will lend weight to the words of our minister in the wake of the Murphy Report.

Bridie Dwyer is waiting for justice. This time, we cannot let her down.

Claire Byrne presents Newstalk Breakfast with Ivan Yates on Newstalk 106-108FM, Monday to Friday 6.30-9am

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