Cardinal meets RUC after sex-abuse priest is jailed

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Faced with an unremitting stream of proven and alleged child sexual abuse by priests, the head of the Roman Catholic church in Ireland yesterday spoke of his "pain and distress".

Cardinal Cahal Daly said he had met senior detectives, at his request, to discuss a Royal Ulster Constabulary investigation which is under way into allegations against priests and other clerics.

He was speaking after a Catholic priest was jailed for seven years in Belfast after admitting a number of sex abuse charges in the latest of a series of cases against priests in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Danny Curran, 45, admitted 13 charges, nine of them indecent assaults against boys, between 1990 and last year. He sat with his head lowered as the judge declared: "The offences were not rare or isolated. They were carried out in a deliberate, calculated fashion."

Curran, who was described as an alcoholic paedophile, had taken boys from west Belfast to an isolated cottage in Co Down. There he gave them alcohol and abused them after drinking sessions. His practices came to light after a boy ran from the cottage and went to a neighbouring house. The court was told he was shaking violently and crying "please do not let him touch me, please do not let him get me".

The priest had hit him on the head with a bottle, bitten his finger and thrown buckets of water at him when he resisted his advances. Police found others attacked by Curran to be frightened, ashamed and confused. One told detectives: "I never told anyone about it because I thought it would be a sin if I did."

An RUC team of 25 detectives is working on child abuse allegations, some of which date back 20 years and concern priests now living south of the border. The team was set up following the conviction of paedophile priest Brendan Smyth, who was jailed for five years and later became the subject of an extradition controversy which brought down the government in the republic.

8 Police came under attack in Belfast and Londonderry last night when petrol bombs were thrown at RUC officers.

In Belfast, close to the city's New Lodge area, six petrol bombs were thrown at police. And in Londonderry, in the Gobnascale district, an RUC Land Rover was attacked. In both incidents, police said they had no idea of the cause of the attacks. No one was hurt, and no arrests were made.