Church confirms sex abuse claims against deceased Newry based priest

April 6, 2015

The Catholic Church confirmed last week that 11 allegations of sexual abuse have been made against a deceased Newry based priest since 1997.

Fr Seamus Reid was named by well known Newry man Gabriel Curran who claims that the priest abused him and other children in Newry in the 1960s.

The Newry Community Radio boss is the brother of former Sinn Fein chairman of Newry and Mourne District Council, Brendan Curran, who claimed during a scathing resignation speech last month that Sinn Fein helped to cover up the sexual abuse of “hundreds” of schoolchildren in the Newry and Mourne area at the hands of a “paedophile priest” by forcing him to “drop the issue” when he raised concerns a decade ago.

Naming the priest at the centre of those allegations for the first time, prominent republican Gabriel revealed to the Irish News that Fr. Reid abused some of the school children while they were attending confessions and said that some of the alleged abuse took the form of inappropriate touching.  Mr Curran claimed that the priest’s behaviour earned him a reputation which meant children tried to avoid being near him.

He also alleged that adults in positions of responsibility were aware of the abuse but failed to do anything to stop it happening.

The 63 year old said he did not report any of the allegations to the Church or the RUC at the time but admitted that he confronted Fr. Reid at a wedding and “told him what he was.”

It has emerged that Fr. Reid’s case was also raised by Bishop John McAreavey during a report on the Diocese of Dromore carried out by the Church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children in 2011, although the priest was not publicly named in the report.

A diocesan spokesperson confirmed that the first allegation was made by a person who approached social services in 1997, four years after Fr. Reid retired and that the matter was referred to the diocesan delegate in the Diocese of Dromore. It is believed the matter was not reported to the RUC at the request of the alleged victim.

Subsequent complaints made after Fr. Reid’s death in 2001 were reported to the statutory authorities in line with national child protection procedures.

Bishop McAreavey has met with several victims, Patricia Carville, diocesan director of safeguarding also continues to do so.

The bishop urged anyone who has been a victim of child sexual abuse by any priest of the diocese to come forward.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has echoed the call for information about the alleged abuse at the hands of Fr. Reid. The party rejected Brendan Curran’s accusation, maintaining that Sinn Féin “has no knowledge whatsoever” of the claims being made by Mr Curran and said if the former council chairman “has any information on the alleged sexual abuse of children by a priest or anyone else then he should bring that information immediately to the proper authorities, An Garda Síochana or to the PSNI.”

“Sinn Féin doesn’t investigate allegations of sexual abuse; that is the role of the police north and south.”