Saturday, 24 October 2015



In recent days the name of Father Thomas Cunningham came up in this Blog in the context of historic sexual abuse in the Diocese of Down and Connor. 

Father Cunningham was a curate in St Teresa's Parish in Belfast and later parish priest of St Agnes' Parish in Andersonstown. 

If you google Father Cunningham you will find that as parish priest of St Agnes' he set up two schools - one for girls and one for boys. 

Thanks to the generosity of the St Agnes’ parishioners and the efforts of the then Parish Priest, Rev Fr Thomas Cunningham, the Andersonstown and wider community were provided with the two new schools for boys and girls. From the outset Sr Mona Lally, our first principal, set high standards for the girls. She decided at an early stage to prepare our girls for public examinations, which was progressive thinking for its day since our school was then a secondary intermediate and as such was considered only to cater for girls who had been refused a grammar place.

You will also discover that he was a fire and brimstone preacher and preached strict morals to his parishioners.

Fr. cunningham in st.agnes was fire and brimstone.

When he was a curate in St Teresa's he also set up a boys scout group.

Sadly there seems to have been a "darker" and more "tragic" side to Father Cunningham's love for schoolboys, scouts and altar boys.

He lived in a big house on the Andersonstown Road and it was always full of boys. The rule seems to have been that all boys visiting the house had to strip down to their underpants and had to stay that way for the time they were in the house. Father Cunningham used to sit in an armchair and the boys would take turns sitting on his knee. 

As a reward Father Cunningham left the Sunday Collection plate out and when leaving the boys were given permission to take money from it to go and buy sweets. 

Then a new curate came to live with Father Cunningham - Father James Doyle who came on loan to Down and Connor from Wexford. He became involved in the underwear, sitting on knees and taking money for sweets.

Sadly Father Doyle went on to more serious forms of abusing boys in St Agnes. I have spoke to one of his victims. But I fear there are many other victims of Father Cunningham and Father Doyle out there :-(

Father Doyle was later prosecuted in the Republic for other instances of abuse and dismissed from the priesthood.  He featured quite prominently in the FERNS REPORT.

1.   Handling of Sex Abuse Cases Main Difficulty Left for Bishop
The Irish Times - Saturday, March 2, 1996 By ANDY POLLAK
2.   AT his press conference on Wednesday, the Bishop of Ferns, Dr Brendan Comiskey, said he had become aware of allegations of child sex abuse against priests "almost immediately" after he arrived in Ferns in 1984.
3.   There were, in fact, already complaints on file in the bishop's house.
4.   Eighteen months earlier, in October 1982, the professor of psychology at University College, Dublin, Father Fechim O'Docherty, had written to Dr Comiskey's predecessor, Dr Donal Herlihy, recommending that Father James Doyle a Wexford curate who eight years later would be convicted of indecent assault on a teenage boy should be kept away from young people.
5.   Father O'Docherty wrote that Father Doyle, whom he had interviewed, was "a clear example of mollifies, which my dictionary says means, in a bad sense, weakness, effeminacy.
6.   He said Father Doyle had a history of "auto eroticism and both homosexual and heterosexual behaviour". He "did not face up to celibacy in any realistic sense".
7.   It was "desirable that he should have a change of role, away from working with young people", concluded the psychologist.
8.   Around the same time a Wexford parish priest, worried about an alleged incident involving improper behaviour by Father Doyle towards an altar boy, communicated his concern to Dr Herlihy.
9.   In June 1990 Dr Comiskey was informed that Father Doyle, then a curate in Clonard parish in Wexford town, was being charged with indecent assault against a boy in his early teens, an offence committed the previous April.
10.                The bishop relieved him of his pastoral duties and he went to a specialised clinic in England for treatment.
11.                He pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence the following November.
12.                Asked on Wednesday if the diocese had any prior information or professional advice about the risk Father Doyle might pose to young people, and if any priest had warned him about such a risk, Dr Comiskey said there bad been "a letter from a counsellor" but his recollection was that it did not mention risk to children.


Father Charlie Agnew, a priest of Down and Connor taught in the diocesan college at Garron Tower. 

He later became the parish priest of St. Michael's in Andersonstown. 
Presbytery - St Michael's Andersonstown

The notorious paedophile priest JAMES DONAGHY was his curate.

By Francesca Ryan
The housekeeper of a former West Belfast priest jailed for sex abuse says he reacted angrily when she had asked him to stop bringing children to the  parochial house in the 1980s. James Martin Donaghy, 53, from Lady Wallace Drive in Lisburn, was convicted of 23 sex abuse charges against a young adult and two teenage altar boys.  On Friday past he was handed a 10-year sentence at Belfast Crown Court.
The trial, which ended in December, saw the three victims give evidence against the priest, describing him as “domineering and controlling”. Now his housekeeper, who does not wish to be named, paints a similar picture of a man she calls “a manipulator”.
James Donaghy
The woman lived in the parochial house at St Michael the Archangel church on Finaghy Road North in the mid-1980s where she cared for ailing priest Fr Charlie Agnew. Donaghy, who stepped down from the priesthood in 2004, was also living in the house at the time.
“This story has made me physically sick,” she said.  “I knew he was arrogant and ignorant but this is sickening. “I lived in the house with him in 1984 to look after Fr Agnew who was ill. Fr Donaghy was there but it was Fr Agnew who employed me.
“Fr Donaghy always had kids in the house and I remember saying to him about it because Fr Agnew was a diabetic and he had a bad heart, he wouldn’t have been fit for all that.  I asked that man to stop bringing kids to the house and he snapped back that he was there before me and just walked out and slammed the door.  He was so ignorant to me from then on.” The woman recalled how Donaghy never let her into his bedroom to clean up.
“I looked after Fr Agnew and that… thing,” she said.  “I fed him and cleaned his clothes but I was never allowed into his bedroom, he never let me clean it, he always said he would do it himself. With what I now know, I can’t even begin to imagine what was in there.”
Alarmingly, the housekeeper says the shamed  priest was constantly involved in projects with local schoolchildren. “There were boys in the house two or three times a week, always boys, never girls.  I never saw girls at the parochial house,” she said.  “He was always working with children and was never out of the school [St John the Baptist]. The day Fr Agnew died, the nurse rang the parochial house looking for Fr Donaghy to tell him the news. He was at the school, of course. If there was anything to do with the kids, he was there, scouts and everything.”
She described the several different personalities of Donaghy that she encountered during her time at St Michael’s parochial house. “He was very immature and used to wear a scout’s tie around the house, but there was also a really arrogant side to him and he thought he was above everyone else.
Scouts Scarf
“He never liked to be told he was wrong, he would be quite moody and was always slamming doors. He made me feel like dirt on the bottom of his shoe. He had a thing about women, he would be quite rude to them, it was only boys he was interested in. But there was one lady who used to buy him gifts and he totally led her on. This man was a total manipulator and I think he would’ve charmed those kids. It’s disgusting.”
On the death of Fr Agnew in 1985, the woman moved out of the house, leaving Fr Donaghy alone. She was visibly upset to think about what may have taken place not only while she was there, but after she left. “I left when Fr Agnew died and he would have had the house to himself for about six weeks. I dread to think what was going on. I’m glad Fr Agnew didn’t hear about this when he was alive because it would have killed him. There is no way this is about three children,” she adds.  “There were kids coming and going all the time so I feel there will be more cases coming out of the woodwork. It’s sickening to think I looked after that bastard. I would love to face him now and tell him that he is something from the bottom of my shoe.”
As well as the 10-year jail term, the judge ordered that Donaghy remain on the sex offenders register for the rest of his life and he also imposed a 15-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order, barring him from being alone with children, working with children, or living in accommodation without approval.
FATHER AGNEW was not without problems of his own. I know one young man who went to confession to him in St Michael's and confessed masturbation. After confession Father Agnew brought him over to the presbytery and examined his privates "to make sure he had not damaged himself " when masturbating.

Its very strange that these two men and their curates had similar problems. I have heard of a few other such cases. 
Who knew about all this?  One contributor to this Blog said: "Ask Bishop Walsh"?
Paddy Walsh -in Garron Tower

Walsh grew up in Andersonstown when Father Cunningham was on the go. He taught in Garron Tower when Charlie Agnew was there. He seems to be very friendly with James Donaghy. How much did he and does he know?

Are there files on this historic abuse in Lisbreen? Have these files been handed over to the authorities?

If there are victims out there who is believing them and helping them?


  1. A deeply spiritual man, Charlie Agnew was Paddy Walsh's "spiritual director". He was also very fond of spanking boys on the bare bottom when he was in Garron Tower.

    1. Conclusion
      It is not disputed that spanking has a sexual side as well as a punitive side. Indeed, our popular culture and media suggest there is wide awareness of this fact, however unspoken. Society has nonetheless failed to squarely address the serious implications of spanking’s punitive/sexual duality. Considering the power of sex to corrupt, along with the coercive nature of punishment, we should be alarmed at the very idea of discipline through spanking – all the more so when it is directed at a group of people as powerless, fragile and unsuspecting as children.

      Google: Spanking and Sexuality by Tom Johnson

    2. I was always suspicious of his motivation after he caned one of my classmates on the bare arse leaving painful corrugations, as a punishment for reading a
      girlie magazine. This was not an isolated event, and surely other priests had some suspicions?

    3. The caning was done in Charlie Rat's bed room with no-one else present. Surely some of the other priests had a clue what was going on?

  2. Walsh was told about Cunningham having many victims in St Agnes'. He didn't want to know!

    1. Was he told this as a priest or as a bishop?

    2. He was told as bishop and he turned on his heel and walked away. Didn't want to know.

  3. During Charlie Agnews time at Garron Tower he had a kind of manservant character called Pat Delargy. Delargy had learning difficulties and was a fairly simple soul. Because of his habit of reporting miscreant boys to the college dean and getting them punished he was called Pierpoint - after the Gilbert and Sullivan character and the English hangman. Many of us were very suspicious of the " relationship" between Agnew and Delargy. When Agnew was moved from the college Pat went as well. What was going on with these two. Does any body know ?

    1. I don't think that Charlie was the only "senior" cleric of D&C with a manservant and a vulnerable man servant at that) who moved with him when he was moved! There is a much more prominent case. But in fairness that manservant is still alive and during his lifetime he is entitled to sensitivity.

  4. A simple yes and no will do here Pat. Does the individual still live within shouting distance of a university?

  5. I think you are right to preserve his privacy. I know that one of our presbyterate "looks after" him but when he goes the flood gates will open !!!

  6. Yes I am. Have met him several times.

    Does that presbyter "look after" or "control" him?

    Lovely man. Sad case of modern life long slavery.

    1. Fr Constantine Bile24 October 2015 at 21:00

      Bishop, you're nothing but a shit stirrer. There is no proof that Frs Cunningham ever abused anyone.

      It is also a well established fact that in most cases the boys and girls came on to the priests.

      The vast majority of so called victims are after money.

      Why is this only a recent problem?

      Fr C Bile D&C

    2. Please excuse poor Fr Bile. He finds one of the altar boys very desirable and, despite numerous, furious, self-regulating wanks, he is afraid he is going to succumb to the boy's charms. Please pray hard that Fr C doesn't weaken and pounce on this disgusting, tempting boy.

    3. MourneManMichael25 October 2015 at 01:45

      Good post @ 21:30, to which I'd add, for Bile's reflection, (and in doing so I take his comment at face value rather than query its authenticity):
      if you have so little understanding of the inverse power relationship between clerical abusers and their invariably naive victims, then I for one, would wish you to simply shut up, go away and study the subject, and withold your opinions until you have achieved some basic understanding of the matter.

    4. Fr Constantine Bile25 October 2015 at 09:16

      Dear Mr MMM,

      Your opinions as a mere lay man are totally irrelevant to me.

      I am even less interested in the opinions of a mere lay man who not only abandoned his vocation to the priesthood - Judas - but has also abandoned his Christian and Catholic faith for a spurious atheistic humanism and who is therefore facing an eternity of the most heinous punishments.

      I do not need to go away and read liberal sociological and psychological claptrap. I prefer instead to rely on the Word of God in the Scriptures and the teachings and laws of the perfect ONE TRUE CHURCH.

      Children are born in sin and one of the Devil's main targets is the wonderful Catholic priesthood.

      I speak from a knowledge of the Absolute Truth and not from a blind adherence to the changing quicksands of the modern social sciences.

      I will not allow anyone, especially a Judas, to attack the beauty and integrity of the Catholic Priesthood which at its roots is incorruptible.

      I will offer my Sunday Mass today for your conversion back to the Church Jesus founded.

      Fr. Constantine Bile EV D&C

  7. I have no opinion to offer on the Roman Catholic priesthood. I know little about it. But as someone who has worked in the field of sexual abuse for over 30 years,have written and presented many papers on the subject and still actively involved in some of the country's major abuse inquiries can I say to Rev Bile that you just haven't a clue. Whatsmore it's the archaic mindset like yours and those in positions of authority within your faith which has led to the Catholic church's troubles worldwide. Now Father off you go now and pray for me and others in my profession who have to investigate and pick up the pieces of shattered lives and ruined families brought about by the predatory,sickening and perverted activities of some of your colleagues.

    1. Fr Constantine Bile25 October 2015 at 10:07

      .....And I'm sure you have made a fine living and are "living in clover" as a result!

      Father Constantine Bile D&C

    2. I would like to assure Blog readers that Father C Bile does not represent the views of the diocese, priests of people of Down and Connor or the wider Church.

      Senior Cleric.

    3. Fr Constantine Bile25 October 2015 at 11:33

      Have I ever claimed to represent anyone except Christ and his Truth?

      I hope you - "Senior Cleric" - are being faithful to your Sacred calling?

      Fr C Bile.

  8. MourneManMichael25 October 2015 at 11:25

    Thank you contributor at 10:00. You've nicely put much of my own views on the matter, and, like you, I too spent over 30 years dealing with child abuse and its aftermath.
    If it can be called that, I do have one advantage over you. Having been in a major catholic seminary as a young man studying for the priesthood, I have some understanding of the absolutist mindset displayed by many priests of an older generation, derived in large part from their training and a reliance on Thomistic philosophy and theology. Thomas Aquinas has a lot to answer for!

    So I simply find it weird that anyone can actually still believe the sort of mindnumbingly stupid stuff this Bile fellow utters, and find it simply laughable, for there is simply no point in attempting to have any sensible logical debate with such opinions.
    Having said that, I'm wondering if he actually exists?
    Agent provocateur methinks!

    1. Fr Constantine Bile25 October 2015 at 14:53

      Dear Mr MMM,

      I see that you have not forgotten all the Latin you learned in Maynooth.

      You may have spent 30 years in some form of social work - but who prepared you for that and the salary and pension you enjoy - your free education in Catholic Church schools and your free degrees etc paid for by Maynooth.

      But of course the eaten bread is soon forgotten and you now enjoy biting the hand that fed you.

      The more you say the more you prove you are indeed the Judas!

      Forget philosophy - Thomist or otherwise. What about a bit of honesty and gratitude!

      Fr Constantine Bile

  9. I have had no dependency on the Catholic church for my education but I take exception to Rev Biles remarks about me "living in clover". I note your return to the theme again in you're recent post against MMM. You seem obsessed with folks standard of living. Men who have jobs which require attendance at an ever decreasing number of services, less input in local education committees,nice cars with petrol thrown in, free ( and often luxury accomodaion eg Randalstown), housekeepers, couple of holidays a year, invitations galore to social functions including wedding and funerals etc. plus donations received for attendance at those ceremonies ( in reality being paid twice for the same job) are hardly in a position to talk about people "living in clover"

    1. Fr Constantine Bile25 October 2015 at 17:44

      You may have no apparent "dependency" upon the Catholic Church but I would remind you that "outside the Church there is no Redemption". You need the Catholic Church if you are to be redeemed!

      I would not wish to be you at the Gates of Heaven!

      I am not obsessed with people's living standards. I am just pointing out that most people on this Ireland did well because the Catholic Church educated them. You may be a Protestant (Schismatic) or even worse.

      Not being a Catholic you will be unaware of the Six Commandments of the Church - one of which enjoins Catholics to SUPPORT THEIR PASTORS.

      I am a very bright and gifted man and had I given my life to medicine, the law etc I would be earning a hundred times what I earn as a priest. But I sacrificed all that - and marriage and children - for God.

      You do not sound like a man that would be capable of such sacrifice!

      At least I have the satisfaction of knowing I am working for God and His Truth. God will still be there when all you "social" workers are vanished.

      What will you have to offer then?

      I have no desire to live in clover in this life. My whole desire is to dwell in Heavenly Clover!

      What desert will you be in?

      Fr C Bile.

    2. Fr. Bile by name and nature, I believe in a loving and caring God who wants us all to join him in Heaven, I don't think he will ban people just because they aren't Catholic ( we'll keep that quiet ). You sir need to lighten up, cut out the hellfire schpeel, and stop it with your sacrifices, remember what Jesus said.

      -Former Seminarian DODAC.
      BTW just discovered the blog hence the lateness

    3. I've just discovered this blog so apologies for being so late. Fr. Bile, you really do spew quite a bit of your own name, wind your neck in and show some compassion. I'm sure there are Protestants in heaven. Please stop shouting about your sacrifices - remember what Jesus said about that lark.
      Great Blog
      - Former Seminarian DODAC

  10. Outside the church there is no redemption! Good luck with that one Fr Bile. Poor Albert Schweitzer,the missionary, poor Florence Nightingale, dear old President Jimmy Carter and the thousands of charity volunteers and members of Red Cross and Medicines sans Frontier who day and daily put their lives on the line to save others. Damned one and all ! No redemption. Fr Bile. Take MMM advice. Away ye go!

    1. Fr Constantine Bile25 October 2015 at 18:30

      I did NOT say that all non Catholics would not be redeemed.

      Our Second Vatican Council did say that other GOOD people would be saved.

      But even those people are saved by the GOODNESS and GRACE that subsists in the Catholic Church.

      Not that I would expect you to understand that doctrine.

      Fr C Bile.

  11. Well unless my powers of comprehension have deserted me then the expression "Outside the church there is no redemption. You need the Catholic church if you are to be redeemed" seems pretty clear cut to me Fr. Now, like a good chap away and pour yourself a wee half and chill out. Pope Pius X will be proud of your thinking and mindset. Bless you

  12. I dont see any differences between social works n priesthood, as both serves humanity. I bet God is happy in both.