Catholic Church funded legal representation for priest who successfully appealed sex abuse conviction

Ruaidhrí Giblin


Ruaidhrí Giblin


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The Four Courts

The Catholic Church funded legal representation for a retired priest who successfully appealed his conviction for indecently assaulting a schoolboy in the 1970s, according to lawyers for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Earlier this week, Tadhg O'Dalaigh (73), of Woodview, Mount Merrion Avenue, Blackrock, successfully appealed his conviction for indecently assaulting a schoolboy at Colaiste Chroi Naofa in Carrignavar, Co Cork in the 1970s.

He had been found guilty by a jury and was sentenced to five years imprisonment with the final two suspended by Judge Donagh McDonagh on December 18, 2014, a sentence which he had served by the time his appeal was determined.

The single incident allegedly took place at night time when the complainant awoke to find himself being masturbated.

On Monday, the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction over the trial judge's decision not to warn the jury about the dangers of convicting in the absence of corroboration and today/yesterday(FRIDAY) refused an application by the DPP for a retrial.

The three-judge court felt it would not be in the interests of justice to order the retrial of someone who had served their sentence in full.

Counsel for O'Dalaigh, Patrick Gageby SC, accordingly applied for legal costs for the appeal.

Consel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Garrett McCormack BL, opposed the application adding that O'Dalaigh's “legal representation was funded by the Catholic Church”.

In circumstances where O'Dalaigh was “not out of pocket himself” for the appeal, Mr McCormack asked the court to refuse the application to award O'Dalaigh legal costs.

Mr Gageby said it wasn't a consideration that had ever been canvassed on the question of legal costs. He said it was not in the gift of the prosecution to speculate as to the source or origin of these matters. “Those are private matters in my submission,” he said.

The Court of Appeal reserved judgment on the question of costs to Thursday next.

During his trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, the jury were told that O'Dalaigh had pleaded guilty in 1999 and again in 2014 to indecently assaulting a number of pupils at the same school. These convictions had been reported in the press and O'Dalagh had been named.

He had acknowledged that he had indecently assaulted other boys at the school but adamantly denied assaulting the complainant.

It had been pointed out that other priests had themselves been involved in the sexual abuse of pupils at the school. In effect, O'Dalaigh maintained that if the complainant had been abused as alleged, the abuser was another staff member.

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