Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian has apologised to parishioners for the “betrayal, anger and shock” of parishioners following the Con Cunningham court case.
The former priest was jailed for 15 months today for the abuse of two sisters Paula and Margaret Martin in Fanad in the 1970s.
Cunningham was sentenced to prison for abusing two minors while in active ministry as a priest in the Diocese of Raphoe between the years 1972 and 1975.
Bishop McGuckian said “As Bishop of the diocese, I apologise unreservedly to the two victims. I am deeply sorry that as innocent children they had to endure this devastating and destructive abuse by someone in a position of sacred trust.
“I apologise to their families for the terrible destruction and pain caused by the criminal actions of a priest who acted so deviously.
“Also at this time, I am very aware of the parishes where Con Cunningham worked and lived. I am aware of the sense of betrayal, anger and shock of all parishioners. I am sorry for the deep hurt that has been caused to them. I commend the two victims for their courage in coming forward and seeking justice.”
He added that there is no doubt that in the past, the diocese has failed to act appropriately and expeditiously.
He continued “People who have suffered abuse have felt unsupported by the diocese and not listened to. We regret this greatly.
“The Church is continually working to ensure that such dreadful crimes do not happen again and that victims feel supported.
“If anyone has a concern or a complaint, past or present, I ask them to come forward and contact the statutory authorities and the diocese.”
To report a concern, or complaint of child abuse, either current or historical, please contact Margaret Northage the Designated Liaison Person for the diocese on 086 2183 011 or you can go directly to the statutory authorities:
Tusla (Child & Family Agency) – tel: 074 91 23672/23770,
Gardaí National Protective Services Bureau – tel: 01 6663430/6663435.
In an emergency, please contact Letterkenny Garda Station on 074 91 67100.
Free Counselling & Support is available through Towards Healing, an independent organisation providing professional support for people who have experienced institutional, clerical or religious abuse in Ireland.
Freephone – RoI: 1800 303416,
Freephone – N. Ireland & UK: 0800 0963315,
Freephone – Hearing Impaired: 085 8022 859