New sex claims hit Irish clergy

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The Independent Online
AThe Irish Catholic Church's efforts to defeat November's divorce referendum have been severely shaken by a stream of new sexual misconduct allegations against clergy.

The surge of claims prompted the Archbishop of Dublin last week to urge priests not to lose their nerve, amid fears that the clergy's moral authority is being undermined.

Two more Catholic priests appeared in court in Londonderry yesterday on sex abuse char ges. Father William Bernard Gallagher, 56, who gave his address as Catford, London, faced eight charges of indecent assault against two girls aged between 10 and 13 between 1960 and 1964.

An RUC inspector said Fr Gallagher made no reply when charged. He was remanded on pounds 500 bail to appear in court again in two weeks.

Father Gerard William McCallion, 47, a Cistercian priest of Mount Melleray Abbey, County Waterford, was returned for trial charged with indecently assaulting three girls between May 1987 and August 1988.

The latest prosecutions come in the wake of weekend allegations that Brendan Comiskey, Bishop of Ferns, declined to co-operate with gardai investigating child sex abuse allegations against a priest in his diocese.

Irish newspapers said Bishop Comiskey refused to meet gardai on three occasions over the case. One priest in the diocese has been convicted following the inquiry. Two others are under investigation. The Bishop allegedly moved one Wexford priest to London after sex abuse claims were made.

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