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Irish bishop was accused of raping his niece when she was just five

Revealed: Irish bishop was accused of raping his own niece when she was just five and faced another two accusations of child sexual abuse before his death

  • One of the women was paid out under the Residential Institutions Redress Board
  • Additionally, a second settlement was confirmed by the Limerick Diocese 
  • His niece, Patricia Donovan, now 56, said: ‘It was rape, everything you imagine’ 
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Bishop Eamonn Casey, the Irish Bishop visiting Sydney in August 1981

Deceased Bishop Eamonn Casey faced at least three allegations of child sexual abuse before he died – with two high court cases being settled.

One of the women who have accused him was his niece, while another received a settlement under the controversial Residential Institutions Redress Board.

Documents obtained by the Irish Mail on Sunday confirmed the Redress settlement, and a second settlement was confirmed by the Limerick Diocese when the MoS directly asked them.

Patricia Donovan, the niece of the late Bishop Eamonn Casey has claimed she was raped and sexually abused by him from the age of five for more than a decade.

Speaking for the first time, his niece Patricia Donovan, now 56, said: ‘It was rape, everything you imagine. It was the worst kind of abuse, it was horrific. 

‘I stopped being able long ago to find any words in the English language to describe what happened to me. It was one horrific thing after another.’

The Irish Mail on Sunday can also reveal that two other complaints of child sexual abuse related to incidents in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Ms Donovan, who lives in England, brought her allegations to police in the UK in November 2005, and later to gardai.

Limerick detectives travelled to the UK to take a statement from her in January 2006, but by August of the same year, the Director of Public Prosecutions directed that no charges be brought on 13 sample allegations.

But in the course of seeking documentation relating to her case, Ms Donovan received case notes that confirm that Bishop Casey made a Redress board settlement with a woman in 2005.

The former Bishop of Galway pictured outside his house in Shanaglish (lright) and left outside his former Sussex home 

Due to restrictions in the redress legislation on information sharing, Gardai or the Director of Public Prosecutions would not have been aware of any such settlement while involved in the investigation, or determination of charges. 

This is the first time it has ever become public knowledge that Bishop Casey is among those named to the redress board. The Government is now proposing to seal those documents on alleged child abuse in religious institutions for a period of 75 years.

This controversial move by the State, under the Retention of Records Bill, is due to come before the Dail this week.

After Ms Donovan made her allegations to authorities in England, he left England, and was sent back to the Galway diocese.

Canon Kieron O’Brien, Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, has confirmed to the MoS that the diocese followed all proper channels at that time, and had Bishop Casey removed from England after Ms Donovan’s allegations.

Bishop Casey and Father Michael Cleary in Galway in 1979. Three accusations have been made against the former

In 2016, Limerick based solicitor Tommy Dalton came on record for one woman who took her case against Bishop Casey to the High Court.

However, in the midst of proceedings, Bishop Casey died on March 13, 2017, and the matter was listed as being ‘struck out’ after compensation was paid.

The Limerick Diocese has now confirmed that a settlement was paid to this woman, among three complaints of child sexual abuse brought to their attention between 2001 and 2014.

The Galway diocese confirmed they knew about an allegation that fits Ms Donovan’s – but the Kerry Diocese this weekend refused to be drawn on if they are aware of any allegations against Bishop Casey in their diocese.

Bishop Eamon Casey outside his home in Firies near Killarney in 1974 with his car known locally as ‘The Flyer’

Ms Donovan also wrote personally to the then Bishop of Galway, Martin Drennan, after the Galway diocese initially agreed to pay for counselling for her and her two children. The funding later ceased in 2007.

When contacted by the MoS, Bishop Drennan said: ‘I can confirm that I was in correspondence with Patricia for a period of time. I heard her plea of suffering and alleged abuse, but I was not in a position to verify any allegations against any named individual.

‘I am very sorry to learn that Patricia is still suffering. I hope she finds peace through forgiveness, as she said is her wish. Though I am now retired, I believe, as Pope Francis said, the Church should reach out to help people find the healing and peace that they deserve, rather than waiting for them to come forward.’

Bishop Eamon Casey in Cuernavaca Mexico in 1993. He died in 2017 and his niece has now spoken out 

Ms Donovan also contacted a UK based group for abuse survivors founded by Wicklow native Dr Margaret Kennedy.

She told the MoS: ‘I was aware of a number of allegations made by several women against Bishop Casey. He was certainly on our radar.’

In 2010, Ms Donovan was also concerned when she learned that Bishop Casey was due to officiate at a baptism of a relative.

She again contacted a number of child protection bodies expressing her concern, and eventually the Bishop of Killaloe, Willie Walsh was contacted, as the Christening was due to be held in his diocese.

Contacted by the MoS, Bishop Walsh, 84, who has also retired, said: ‘I can confirm that I advised Eamonn that he should not do the Baptism.’


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