The details surround Father Patrick Maguire, a Columban Missionary priest, who served in the Diocese of Raphoe in 1974 and 1975.
Maguire was eventually ‘moved on’ – and went on the abuse dozens of other victims.
A priest in Raphoe believed he abused up to eight children whilst in Co Donegal.
Details of the incident – including a statement from Bishop McFeely – were contained in the Commission of Investigation into the Archdiocese of Dublin where Maguire also abused.
Details of his crimes in that report below. Father Maguire was promoted by his Order after leaving Donegal.
Diocese of Raphoe, 1974 – 1975
16.12 Fr Maguire was assigned to work in the diocese of Raphoe in September 1974. While there, he requested to say the early morning mass; he then had an excuse for getting the altar boys to stay overnight so they would be in time in the morning. He engaged in his usual practice of grooming children by inviting them to stay in his house and bringing them swimming. One victim said later that “We all had an idea about what went on but none of us spoke”. A priest who served with him stated in 1997 that he thought Fr Maguire had abused about eight or nine boys while there.
16.13 At this stage, Fr Maguire became astonishingly brazen. He reported to the parents of a boy who had stayed overnight in his house that the boy had a problem with his testicles. Not surprisingly, the parents wondered how he had discovered that. The parents of this boy and others complained to the Bishop of Raphoe, Bishop McFeely, who immediately asked the Society to remove Fr Maguire from his diocese. His letter of December 1975 to the Society well illustrates the episcopal thinking of the time:
“Earlier this year I had a well substantiated complaint from one set of parents about PM having homosexual relations with a son of theirs who was an altar server. We agreed not to take any action at that time but to keep a look out for any repetition. I regret to say that another case has cropped up in the past few days. I am fairly certain that the two sets of parents involved are each unaware of the other complaint and I cannot doubt the truth of their report. I do not wish to go into details but briefly PM had these boys in his room all night and would seem to have interfered sexually with them. He informed the parents of one of the boys that the son had an abnormality of the testicles. I intend to speak to PM tomorrow or Sunday and no matter what transpires in my interview with him, I will insist on him leaving here as quickly and as quietly as possible. … If PM were to remain here even for a short time, there would be grave danger of the affair becoming public. One of the parents has consulted a doctor. If news of PM‟s departure were to leak out, there might well be a proposal to have some kind of send-off for him and that could lead to unforeseen dangers. Of course, I will be as helpful as I can and be as sympathetic as I can. We can easily say that you found it necessary to recall him urgently for other duties and I should think there will be no untoward surprise”.
16.14 Fr Maguire was removed from Raphoe immediately. He attended a psychologist in Dublin who according to Fr Maguire was “very aggressive” with him but who clearly recognised the problem. Fr Maguire was sent to Stroud in February 1976. The head of the Society in Ireland told Stroud that “If people enquire about him I‟m saying that he‟s on a renewal course in England – somewhere in Gloucestershire as Stroud will have connotations for many!”. Fr Maguire spent three months in Stroud. Again, it is not clear what Stroud was told but it is clear that his problem was diagnosed as “paederasty coupled with an almost unbelievable imprudence and lack of understanding of the danger he can be to boys”. Stroud considered that Fr Maguire was in certain respects immature. There was danger but “this does not mean that he cannot practice in the long term as a valuable priest”. It was recognised that he had become “too intimate” with boys but that “can be made too much of as I cannot believe that he was in any way cruel or ruthless with the boys in question”.
16.15 Fr Maguire said later (in 1992) that, other than seeing a psychiatrist on six occasions, he did not receive any specific treatment for his difficulties in Stroud. He said that everyone was treated as an alcoholic and the area of sexuality was denied. It is clearly not the case that the area of sexuality was denied. However, there seems to have been a diagnosis or assessment only and no treatment and there also seems to have been a very limited understanding of the nature and consequences of being “too intimate” with boys. Fr Maguire also said (in evidence to the Church penal process in 2000) that he did supply work locally while he was in Stroud.
16.16 The Society seems to have noted only the optimistic parts of the assessment from Stroud and admitted as much in 1998.
16.17 Fr Maguire started pastoral work in the UK later in 1976. During this time he committed the abuse for which he was subsequently convicted in the UK. This abuse was not reported to the Society at the time.