THE SUICIDE OF PETER McCLOSKEY - APRIL 2006
Suicide Case Takes Heavy Toll on Bishop
Irish Independent 30 April 2006, EUGENE HOGAN
THE Bishop of Limerick, Dr Donal Murray, is expected to return to his post in less than a fortnight after taking time out on doctor's orders to relieve stress.
The official explanation from the Limerick Diocesan Office for his absence was that Dr Murray was taking the break for "health reasons", but sources said that his leave was directly related to the stress of dealing with the fall-out from the death on April 1 of Peter McCloskey.
Clerical abuse victim Mr McCloskey took his own life when mediation talks with the Diocese of Limerick broke down after just two days.
His death sparked calls from Mr McCloskey's family for Dr Murray's resignation, with Mr McCloskey's mother Mary stating that the actions of the Diocese were directly responsible for her son's death.
Mrs McCloskey accused Dr Murray of failing to show "proper Christian love or even basic humanity to my son".
However, last Sunday, in a joint statement from Mrs McCloskey and Dr Murray, the Limerick Bishop said he completely accepted the truth of Mr McCloskey's experience of clerical child sexual abuse.
Dr Murray also admitted there had been a failure on the part of the diocese to inform itself as to suitability of Mr McCloskey's abuser, Clare priest Fr Denis Daly, for his ministry. He is said to have been deeply distressed by the scathing criticisms of his role in the controversy, particularly those from Mrs McCloskey, and was suffering heavily from stress.
He visited his GP as a result, and was advised to take leave to relieve the stress.
"He was just told to step back for health reasons, as it was clearly taking a heavy toll on him. He has been quite distressed by what has happened.
"He has taken this all very badly, and it has been the biggest test of his ministry and he is deeply saddened by what happened to Peter McCloskey," said one well-placed diocesan source.
Neither Dr Murray nor an official diocesan spokesperson were available for comment yesterday. It was reported that he had left the diocese temporarily to reflect and recuperate.
He had been due yesterday to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation on pupils in St Joseph's Parish, but Bishop of Kerry Dr Bill Murphy stepped into the breach.
Bishop of Killala, John Flemming, will carry out any other duties during Dr Murray's absence.
'Strained' Bishop on Sick Leave
Irish Independent, April 29 2006
BISHOP Donal Murray of Limerick has taken temporary sick leave from his duties as a result of acute strain since the suicide of clerical sex abuse victim Peter McCloskey.
A statement issued by the diocese last night said Dr Murray was taking a break for health reasons on his doctor's advice.
In recent days a number of Limerick priests expressed their concerns that the bishop had taken Mr McCloskey's death very badly.
'Strained' Bishop on Sick Leave Following Trauma
Irish Independent Saturday April 29 2006 by John Cooney
BISHOP Donal Murray has taken temporary sick leave from his duties as Bishop of Limerick as a result of acute strain since the suicide last month of clerical sex abuse victim Peter McCloskey.
A statement issued by the diocese last night said that Dr Murray (65), was taking a break for health reasons on the advice of his doctor.
The statement also concerned that the bishop's confirmation ceremonies will now be conducted by Bishop John Fleming of Killala and Bishop Bill Murphy of Kerry.
In recent days a number of Limerick priests expressed their concerns that Bishop Murray had taken Mr McCloskey's death very badly, and that they feared he might have a breakdown.
"He looked absolutely shattered when I saw him a few days ago," a source close to Bishop Murray told the Irish Independent.
"He is a private kind of a guy. He has taken all this to heart.
"He has taken the rope for a lot of things that were not his personal fault. From what I gather he had tried to meet the late Mr McCloskey's complaint more than half way."
Thirty-seven years old Mr McCloskey killed himself on April 3, three days after mediation talks with Limerick diocesan authorities broke down over his allegations that he had been abused by the late Fr Denis Daly in 1980 when he was a 10-year-old altar boy in the parish of Caherdavin.
Ten days ago Mr McCloskey's mother told a news conference in Dublin organised by the One in Four Support group that she held Bishop Murray directly responsible for her son's death, and she called for his resignation.
Mrs McCloskey also claimed that Peter was "denied compassion, humanity and basic dignity by the diocese of Limerick".
Last Sunday, at a six-hour meeting in Limerick with Mrs McCloksey and Colm O'Gorman, the director of One in Four, Bishop Murray broke the stand-off when they all agreed to enter into talks to find the truth as to why Peter had died.
Despite Dr Murray's illness and the announcement of Mr O'Gorman's decision to stand in the next general election for the PDs in Wexford, the talks process has not been put in jeopardy.
Last night Mr O'Gorman said: "Further talks had taken place since last Sunday which ensured that the commitments entered into would be completely met."
He would be continuing to work with One in Four to assist the McCloskey family and he wished Bishop Murray a speedy recovery.
- John Cooney
Sligo-Based Brother of Abuse Victim Leads Fight for Justice
The Sligo Champion 26 April 2006 by Paul Deering
The Sligo based brother of a 37 years old father of three who committed suicide two days after mediation talks with Catholic Church representatives over his sexual abuse by a priest has said his brother would be alive today if that meeting hadn’t had such “a brutally devastating impact on him.”
Joseph McCloskey (39), who lives on the Strandhill Road, described the meeting he attended along with his brother, Peter, and church representatives on Thursday, March 30th as having such a detrimental effect that it “mortally wounded” his brother who was found dead on the following Saturday at his home in Kilkee, County Clare.
Now, Mr. McCloskey has called on the church authorities to lift the confidentiality clause surrounding the mediation hearings involving his brother so that the “truth about his brother’s fight for justice can be revealed.”
The Catholic Church has acknowledged that Peter, who had three children aged, 13, 11 and 10, was sexually abused as a 10 years old altar boy in the early 1980’s by the now deceased Fr. Denis Daly in the parish of Caherdavin.
Clare born Fr. Daly had been working as a supply priest in Limerick from 1978 to 1987. He had left Australia for America and later England. New South Wales police in Australia probed what was described as a “moral lapse” by him in 1963.
On Sunday last, in an effort to address and explore the issues surrounding the tragic death of Peter McCloskey members of his family including his brother Joseph and his mother Mary met the Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray.
Afterwards, in a joint statement prepared with the family, Bishop Murray said he wished to once again acknowledge that he completely accepted the truth of Peter McCloskey’s experience of clerical child sexual abuse.
The Diocese of Limerick also acknowledged that there was a failure on its part to properly inform itself as to Fr Denis Daly’s suitability for ministry in the diocese and the appropriateness of allowing him to minister there.
The Diocese further accepted that the information available at that time should have prevented Fr Daly from taking up ministry in Limerick.
“Peter was a man of extraordinary honesty, integrity and courage. His commitment to the truth demands that all involved work to fully examine and address the grave issues which have been raised as a result of Peter’s tragic death.
“All involved acknowledge that this will be a challenging and at times uncomfortable process but we affirm our commitment to work together to that end,” concluded the statement.
However, Joseph McCloskey, who has worked in the Sligo area since 1991, initially for Calor Kosangas and more recently with Golden Pages, said the family were unhappy at the way the entire process has been handled by the church and want the mediation proceedings to be made public.
Mr. McCloskey said his brother, who had travelled to Australia in February 2004 to obtain the file of Fr. Daly, described the medication process involving the diocese of Limerick as “a horrendous experience.”
“It was stated that Peter had walked out of the mediation talks but this was untrue. I was there with him and he did no such thing,” said Mr. McCloskey.
He urged the Catholic Church to make public the mediation proceedings so as to “let the truth emerge” on how his brother had been treated.
“The process would certainly not encourage other victims to come forward. My brother was met with a litigious response by the church,” claimed Mr. McCloskey.
He pointed out that mediation had worked to great effect in other dioceses but that “Limerick appeared to be a black spot.”
“It failed my brother. He’s dead,” said Mr. McCloskey.
He stressed that his brother’s dealings with the church was never about seeking compensation but about trying to reveal the truth about Fr. Daly and having this acknowledged.
Mr. McCloskey revealed that his brother had left him a letter in which he stated; “I have done everything that I could to survive. There’s nothing left to do.”
“What my brother and I met on that Thursday at mediation was brutally devastating to us and it had a tremendous impact, especially on Peter.
“It effectively resulted in his suicide,” said Mr. McCloskey.
Mrs. Mary McCloskey has said she believes the Limerick diocese to be directly responsible for her son Peter’s death and she has called on Bishop Murray to step down.
Recalling the mediation meeting of March 30th, she said she believed the church did not extend to Peter the love of Jesus Christ approaching the feast of Easter.
“My son has been denied compassion, humanity and basic dignity,” she said.
Bishop Murray, in a statement, said that in April 2003 it was explained to Peter that the investigations about Fr. Daly were ongoing.
The file the church received from the archdiocese of Sydney contained material about Fr. Daly’s problems with alcohol.
It also indicated that he had worked in various dioceses and that some had not accepted him. Fr. Daly was never asked to become a priest of the diocese of Limerick but he was allowed to do supply work for brief periods in a number of parishes.
Bishop Murray said the file did not contain anything about the sexual abuse of minors but there was one reference to “a moral lapse” in 1963 which appeared to have led police to insist that he leave New South Wales.
Enquiries were made from the police but they did not have any records relating to the priest.
On March 9th 2004 a man made an allegation to the archdiocese of Sydney that he was abused as a boy by an Irish born priest in the late 1950’s.
The diocese of Limerick was informed of this on March 22nd. This complaint was still being dealt with by the Sydney diocesan authorities.
Also, an allegation came to light that Fr. Daly had made an improper gesture or suggestion to a young man in the 1980’s in Limerick. The matter was reported to two priests who told the young man’s father to report the matter to the Gardai.
Bishop Murray said that when the matter came to his notice the father of the young man and Fr. Daly were dead and the matter could not be taken further.
Mediation with Peter McCloskey got underway in late 2004 and it was agreed on all sides that it would remain confidential and separate from the legal proceedings which he had initiated.
“Confidentiality is in fact a normal and necessary condition in a mediation of this kind. The purpose of the process was to arrive at an agreed outcome through a process agreed by all and not to attempt to determine facts,” said the Bishop.
The morning after the mediation meeting, the solicitor representing the diocese faxed Peter’s legal representative stating that the diocese wished to continue the process and remained hopeful that it would bear fruit and that all matters which had been proposed for the meeting remained up for discussion.
“The fax concluded with an expression of the hope that the process could be resumed,” said Bishop Murray.Joseph McCloskey said his family were still engaged in a process with the church and that they would not let the matter rest until the full facts of the case had emerged publicly.
“My brother was literally banging his head off a wall for the past two years and I owe it to him to continue his fight for the truth,” said Mr. McCloskey.
Prelate to Work with Tragedy-Hit McCloskey Family
Irish Independent, Monday April 24 2006
THE Bishop of Limerick and members of the family of clerical sex abuse victim Peter McCloskey have pledged to work together to address the issues raised as a result of his tragic suicide.
"This will be a challenging and at times uncomfortable process," Bishop Donal Murray said in a joint statement after meeting Peter's mother, Mary McCloskey, and his brother Joseph, in Limerick yesterday.
The six-hour meeting, which was described as "tough and emotional", came a week after Mrs McCloskey accused Bishop Murray and the diocesan authorities of being directly responsible for Peter's death on April 1, just three days after mediation talks broke down.
Bishop Murray again acknowledged that he "completely accepts the truth of Peter McCloskey's experience of clerical child sexual abuse" in 1980 by the late Fr Denis Daly, who was an alcoholic. He also said there was a failure on the diocese of Limerick's part to properly inform itself of Fr Daly's unsuitability for ministry. Referring to how Fr Daly had been removed from the archdiocese of Sydney for misbehaviour which included "a moral lapse", the Limerick diocese accepted that "the information available should have prevented him from taking up ministry in Limerick".
This amounts to a frank recognition that Dr Murray's predecessor, the late Jeremiah Newman, also an alcoholic, failed to comply with canon law vetting procedures.
"Peter was a man of extraordinary honesty, integrity and courage," the joint statement added. "His commitment to the truth demands that all involved work to fully examine and address the grave issues which have been raised as a result of Peter's tragic death."
Last night Fr Tony Mullins, the former diocesan secretary who attended the meeting, refused to say whether Dr Murray would waive the confidentiality clause surrounding the mediation talks prior to Peter's walk-out and suicide.
"We were glad to have the opportunity to have met the family and express our sympathy and sorrow," Fr Mullins said.
"It was a difficult meeting for all."
Abuse Case Man's Plea to Ahern
Irish Independent 22 April 2006
CLERICAL abuse victim Peter McCloskey made an impassioned appeal to the Taoiseach to initiate an inquiry into the diocese of Limerick just three months before he killed himself, writes John Cooney.
An e-mail requesting to meet Bertie Ahern was one of many increasingly desperate communications sent by Mr McCloskey.
His correspondence includes a plea to the Catholic bishops to hold an investigation into the way Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray, handled his case.
FULL STORY, P8
Suicide Victim had Begged Taoiseach to Launch Probe
Irish Independent 22 April 2006
SUICIDE victim Peter McCloskey made an impassioned appeal to the Taoiseach to initiate an inquiry into the diocese of Limerick only three months before he killed himself on April 1.
An email requesting to meet Bertie Ahern was one of many increasingly desperate communications sent by Mr McCloskey towards the end of last year in an attempt to find vindication over his claim of having been sexually abused by a priest from Co Clare.
Sensationally, his correspondence includes a plea to all the Catholic bishops to hold a canonical probe into the way the Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray handled his abuse case.
The correspondence obtained exclusively by the Irish Independent shows that Mr McCloskey requested the meeting to give "indisputable evidence" that he was brutally raped by a priest in Co Limerick when he was a 10-year-old altar boy.
Mr McCloskey further told the Taoiseach that he had "indisputable evidence" of a cover-up in his case by the Bishop Murray.
The bishop has denied that there was any cover-up.
In an email to the Taoiseach, dated November 26, Mr McCloskey begged the Taoiseach to meet him any time after December 16.
The correspondence indicates that after years of allegedly not being listened to, Mr McCloskey felt encouraged by publication of the Government Inquiry into clerical child sex abuse in the diocese of Ferns.
This was followed up by calls from the Taoiseach and the Irish Catholic bishops urging victims to come forward.
"I am certain that you will agree to this meeting," Mr McCloskey wrote.
"I am certain that you will want to act in a proper manner in dealing with the failure of state institutions that have failed to assist me," he wrote.
"I did report the matter to An Garda Siochana in 1980 but they failed to respond to my complaint at the time."
Last night, a Government spokesman confirmed that the Taoiseach received the email from Mr McCloskey and this had been acknowledged to him. However they gave no further details. It was learned last night Mr McCloskey sent copies of his email to An Garda Siochana, Child Abuse Special Investigations, at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
In this email, Mr McCloskey drew their attention to correspondence from the Professional Standards Office in Sydney, in the Catholic archdiocese of Sydney.
This correspondence contained evidence that the late Fr Daly, who served in the archdiocese of Sydney, as well as dioceses in America, England and Scotland before being accepted for the Limerick diocese, had been accused of consistent conduct unbecoming of a priest.
He also emailed to Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, accusing his predecessors of falsehood in not telling the diocese of Limerick the real story about Fr Daly.
My Beautiful Boy's Tragic Hunt For The Truth
Irish Independent Saturday April 22 2006
Mary McCloskey blames the Limerick diocese for the suicide of her sexually abused son, Peter. Here she tells Chief Features Writer Justine McCarthy how his life was shattered by an evil priest
Destiny was waiting for Mary McCloskey's second child when he was delivered into the world in Limerick's St Munchin's Hospital on March 14, 1969. She chose her own father's name, Peter, to christen her 8lb, 2oz son, "my blond curly-haired, brown-eyed baby".
Destiny's name was Fr Denis Joseph Daly. By the time of Peter's birth, the Roman Catholic priest of the Sydney diocese in Australia and a native of Ogonnelloe in East Clare had been banished from New South Wales by the local police on foot of something recorded in his diocesan file as "a moral lapse". A letter written by the archbishop of Sydney, and contained in Fr Daly's file, notes that "it would be an embarrassment for him to exercise a sacred ministry in this State".
Six years before that "moral lapse", a "very grave incident" involving Fr Daly's conduct had occurred at a wedding in 1957 in the Australian seaport town of Manly.
Looking back, it is plain to see Fr Daly was a psychological timebomb, but this knowledge has only come to light courtesy of Peter McCloskey's tenacious crusade to find the truth and, ultimately, because of Peter's death on this day three weeks ago.
Daly was ordained a priest at the age of 25 at St Patrick's College in Carlow in June 1951 and arrived in Sydney on December 13 that year. As a priest, he was treated for alcoholism and ran up considerable gambling debts.
On being banished by the New South Wales police, he spent time working as a priest in the San Francisco and Sacramento areas of California. Next, he turned up in Northampton, England.
While there, he took a sabbatical from the clergy and spent some time driving buses. Having drifted across three continents - still with the express permission of his bishop to say Mass - he arrived in Limerick in January 1980 as a temporary substitute curate at Christ the King Church in Caherdavin parish.
Peter McCloskey, aged 10, had already been an altar boy at the church for two years. He served 7.30am weekday Mass, as well as christenings, funerals and weddings. He was on the roster for Sunday Masses.
"He had developed these magnificent blondy curls that would fall into his brown eyes," remembers his mother, dressed entirely in black mourning. "He was very outgoing. He had a great sense of humour. When he was at the table, he would entertain you.
"He went to the church every morning before school. Then he would come back down home for his breakfast and go to school. He used to lock up the church for the sacristan. We thought he was in the safest place he could be."
When first she saw the newly arrived Fr Daly outside the church, he struck her as "very big, not tall . . . heavyset". It would be 23 years before her son would tell her that the priest had been violently and sexually abusing him throughout the nine months he remained in Caherdavin parish, before transferring to the Roxboro district of Limerick in September 1980.
"He never told me any details," says Mary, a nurse, a mother of four and a grandmother to Peter's three children from his failed marriage. "He said they were too graphic to tell me. He didn't want to shock me."
He did confide in his brother, Joseph, older by two years, that the abuse involved repeated rape in the sacristy before and after Masses as well as an order not to wear pants under his altar boy surplice. Peter told Joseph that the priest, who died in a Waterford nursing home in October 1987, used to shout a mantra at him: "Bad, evil boy, you're driving me mad, driving me mad."
One of the burdens Mary McCloskey has to bear is her belief that other people knew or suspected that her child was being abused. He told her that, as a child, he went to the gardai;but they told him to go home and cop himself on. He told Joseph that, one morning when Fr Daly had locked the two of them in the sacristy for another session of abuse, a nun from the nearby convent had banged on the door for it to be opened and later inquired of the child why he wore no pants under his surplice.
In retrospect, Mary can see the signs. Her delightful, "very talented" child became a "very difficult" teenager. Theirs was a faithful Catholic home. One day, when Peter uttered a shocking blasphemy, "F--- you, God,", his father put him in the car and drove him to the Franciscan church for confession.
Peter attempted suicide and was hospitalised in a psychiatric unit for the first time in November 2002, six months after his solicitor's initial letter to the Catholic diocesan officein Limerick. His many suicide attempts would include cutting and hanging and involve emergency rescues at sea. He loved fishing and had his own boat. He was a powerful swimmer, winning the Bay Swim cup in Kilkee two years ago.
But there was an introspective side to him too. He wrote poetry, getting elected 'Poet of the Week' in a Limerick pub's 'Poet's Corner' for a composition entitled Would You Like To Be At Sea Tonight? An essay he wrote for Radio One's Sunday Miscellany, called The Walking Machine, was published in a collection edited by Marie Heaney in 2003.
When he died, Peter left a small mountain of letters on his computer which he had written in his quest for answers about Fr Daly. Among the recipients were Pope Benedict, President Mary McAleese, Bertie Ahern, the bishops of Sydney and San Francisco and the episcopal conference in Maynooth. He concluded one letter to the then director of the Irish Church's child protection office, Paul Bailey, with a quotation from Ernest Hemingway: "You can decide to die on your feet, or live on your knees."
"I'm doing this interview to highlight the process Peter went through to establish his abuse and the journey he took to find the truth," says his mother. "I am very angry with Bishop Murray that he cannot come out in the name of the love of Jesus Christ and admit the truth. He denied Peter the truth in his life and now he is denying it in his death. Peter is
Bishop Refuses to Resign over Handling of Abuse Case
Irish Independent 21 April 2006
THE Bishop of Limerick has denied there was a cover-up in the case of abuse victim Peter McCloskey - who committed suicide after being involved in mediation with the diocese.
Dr Donal Murray defended his handling of the controversial case and gave no indication that he was going to resign.
Earlier this week Mr McCloskey's mother and his family demanded that Bishop Murray should step down after his handling of the case.
But last night the bishop said in a statement that Mr McCloskey was always explicitly assured that he was believed.
Dr Murray said that at Mr McCloskey's first personal approach to the diocese, a counsellor was arranged for him on that day.
"Over the following years the diocese continued to support Peter through counselling and art therapy and helped with his accommodation expenses for a short while," the bishop added.
Dr Murray said that he and the then diocesan secretary, Father Mullins, met Peter on many subsequent occasions and his requests for a meeting were always quickly facilitated.
He added that the diocese made arrangements for Peter to undertake a three-month course of residential therapy when he expressed a wish for it.
Bishop Murray stressed that he would never have denied the existence of information which had come to light.
Mr McCloskey took his own life on April 1, just two days after he had walked out of mediation talks taking place with diocesan representatives.
Peter, a mature student at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, made allegations in 2002 that he was sexually abused when he was an altar boy in 1980/81 by Fr Denis Daly, who died in 1987.
In a response last night, Colm O'Gorman of the One in Four Group said that Dr Murray had said that Peter had been repeatedly assured that he was believed in meetings with the diocese.
But Mr O'Gorman said that was never Peter's experience and he had repeatedly indicated that was not his experience.
Bishop Details Sequence of Meetings to Discuss Abuse Claim
Kathryn Hayes, The Irish Times - Friday, April 21, 2006
Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick last night issued a statement detailing the sequence of meetings his diocesan office had with a man who died suddenly two days after walking out of a meeting with church representatives about his claim that he had been abused as an altar boy.
Dr Murray again extended his deepest sympathy to the family of the late Peter McCloskey and expressed sadness that the church's efforts to address the 37-year-old man's complaint "did not bring him more comfort".
Peter McCloskey died on April 1st, after walking out on mediation talks with diocesan representatives in Limerick two days earlier. His mother called for the bishop's resignation over the manner in which he dealt with her son's complaint.
In his 1,500-word statement, Dr Murray outlined a series of measures, including residential therapy, arranged by the diocese between April 2002 and January 2005 for Mr McCloskey. Mr McCloskey, a mature student at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, made allegations in 2002 that he was sexually abused when an altar boy in 1980/81 by Fr Denis Daly. Fr Daly, who was ordained in Sydney, returned to Ireland in 1978 and failed to get work in two dioceses before going to Limerick, where he worked until his death in 1987.
Bishop Murray said his diocesan office received a file from the archdiocese of Sydney in 2003 which referred to a "moral lapse" by Fr Daly in Australia in 1963.
The statement further added that, since becoming aware of concerns about Fr Daly's time in Australia, Limerick diocese made efforts with the Australian police and Sydney archdiocese to discover what the "moral lapse might have been".
Dr Murray also confirmed that during the church's investigation into Fr Daly's time in Limerick, they became aware of allegations made to two priests in the 1980s of an improper gesture by Fr Daly towards a young man who "decisively rebuffed him".
According to the bishop's statement this complaint was not taken further as by the time it came to the attention of the diocesan office, Fr Daly and the father of the person who had raised the matter were dead.