Group Appeals for Pervert Priest Info

By Sarah Brett
Belfast Telegraph [Northern Ireland]
August 8, 2006

Campaigners against clerical sex abuse today called on people in the North West to come forward with information about a paedophile priest once based in the Derry Diocese.

Father Neil Gallanagh worked in the parish of Craigbane in Claudy before the Catholic Church gave him a job in a school for deaf children in England, where he went on to abuse boys.

Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors (MACSAS) have appealed for information about Gallanagh's time in Derry in their bid to build a stronger case for an inquiry into the church's handling of the case 40 years ago.

They have been trying to uncover the history of Gallanagh (75), who was convicted of sexually abusing a nine year old boy in 1960 while on a day trip to the Isle of Man from his base in Claudy.

He was allowed to walk free after promising to seek medical treatment and a report of his arrest appeared in the Belfast Telegraph.

Last year Gallanagh pleaded guilty to sexually abusing deaf children in St John's Roman Catholic School for the Deaf in Leeds.

A further 11 charges against him of indecently assaulting five other boys aged under 16, including an 11-year-old, were left on file.

Margaret Kennedy from MACSAS, who is herself a deaf survivor of abuse, wants to uncover whether Gallanagh's sexual offending predates his 1960's conviction.

The Catholic church have so far declined to comment on the case.

"As he himself said in court at that time, he had been struggling with these issues and it had become an obsession," she said.

"We need to know much more about Fr Gallanagh and the then Bishop of Derry Neil Farren who we believe moved him to Leeds.

"There are questions that need answering that a police investigation is unlikely to determine such as: Where did Fr Gallanagh come from? He came from Northern Ireland but one wonders if he was sent to Britain after allegations there, as was the ploy used universally at that time.

"Did the Diocese of Leeds know he was a risk when he was placed in the school?

"Was he suspected of sexual abuse before placement in the school?"

Contact Margaret Kennedy at MACSAS PO Box 46933, London E8 1XA. All communication will be treated confidentially. Please give a phone number.


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