Thursday, 28 April 2016



WAS THE CLAIM OF RAPE BY 5 DOWN & CONNOR PRIESTS made to me in the early 1980's true?

At the time I was a curate in St Peter's Cathedral on the Falls Road and was receiving wide spread publicity for my work on housing and joyriding in the Divis Flats area.

Every evening at 6.30 pm after I had my tea there would be a queue of ten or twenty people waiting to see me. I saw them in one of the 2 interview rooms in the presbytery.

These interviews were cynically referred to as "Buckley's Surgery" by two of my fellow priests who did not approve. 

The administrator, Father Vincent McKinley, even removed the fuses in the electric fires so that I and my interviewees could not have heat!

Vincent McKinley

Most of the people waiting were parishioners but there were always a number of others from all over Belfast and the diocese.

On one occasion a youngish lady came to see me and in a very distressed state and in a flood of tears she told me that she had sex with 5 Down and Connor priests at the one time.

She did not call it "rape" but told me that the incident had taken place in the now closed Conway Hotel in Dunmurray.

She claimed to have met the group of priests - who were not in clerical dress - in the bar and began to drink with them. She claimed to have been plied with alcohol and was then taken to a hotel bedroom where the 5 priests had in turn had sex with her.

At the time she was quite drunk but still had a full recall of what had happened. It was only when she woke up in the morning and found herself in the hotel bedroom alone that she fully realised what had happened and from that moment on she was greatly traumatised about it.

At the time I immediately suggested that her and I should go and report her claim to the police - the RUC. She refused to do this giving me 3 reasons:

1. She felt that no one would believe her and she had no proof.

2. As a Catholic and Nationalist / Republican she did not like or trust the RUC.

3. She felt that if she did go to the RUC and openly give evidence against 5 priests that her life would be in danger from paramilitaries. 

I insisted that she should not let the matter rise and I sought her permission to communicate her story to the then bishop - William Philbin. She agreed.

Bishop Philbin

I attempted to make an appointment with Bishop Philbin but as was his practice at the time I was referred to the diocesan vicar general Monsignor Patrick Mulally.

I went to the bishop's house and met Monsignor Mulally who was very uneasy about receiving this report from me but who in any events made notes. I also communicated to the monsignor the names of the alleged priests involved - of whom I now only remember 2. 


Monsignor Mulally told me he would discuss the matter with Bishop Philbin and that they would be in touch with the lady and that I was to have nothing more to do with the matter and if she came to see me  again I should refer her to Lisbreen.

This story has always haunted me and I have told it to several Down and Connor priests. If any of them are willing I would like them to acknowledge - even anonymously - that I have told them.

Its quite possible that the lady is still alive and would obviously now be in her 70's. 

I have appealed one or twice in this Blog - if she reads it - for her to approach me again.

However it is a long time ago and she may not be alive or may not want to deal with such a horrible historic incident.

Monsignor Mulally took notes during our meeting and I do not know if those notes were kept and are still extant?

When I met them afterwards neither Bishop Philbin or Monsignor Mulally ever referred to the alleged incident and my reporting of it, as far as I know, did not influence them with regards myself. 

This case is one of many that have never seen the light of day. 

Personally I believed the lady involved - especially as she was not after either prosecution or compensation. She simply need to tell someone - someone in the Church - of what had happened to her.

Of course I am still willing to talk to the authorities about this matter and even give the names I was given. 


  1. Having read this blog entry I can confirm as a Priest of the Diocese that Pat Buckley did indeed recall this horrific episode in my presence. I was deeply shocked then, and I still am today.
    A Priest is called to uphold the integrity and goodness of any vulnerable person whom they meet, and great damage is done psychologically and spiritually to a person when a Priest or in this case a group of Priests see a potential victim in their midst, and act like 'wolves setting upon a lamb'.
    I hope and pray that the woman who suffered so grievously has been able to receive the necessary support to alleviate the harm and hurt inflicted upon her.
    If these 5 Priests were indeed guilty, then they should have been jailed and removed from the office of a Cleric, in the same way Jim Donaghy was.

    Priest of Down & Connor.

  2. Is it too late to go to the police? These wolves should be behind bars. Who knows what else they have done, hunting in a pack, or as individuals, over the years??? I thought I had heard it all!

    1. No it is not too late to go to the police if the woman comes forward. The police need a complainant.

    2. I hope you can find this woman, Pat and that she is able to go to the police.

      Chances are, after all this time, some of these scumbags are already dead and roasting in hell. But some - or all of them - could be still at large.

      You can bet that Mullally never told Philbin and that her complaint never saw the light of day. The horrific episode is a summary comment on the complete rotten mess that still lies at the heart of this diocese.

      Priest, D&C.

    3. Fr, Some of them ARE still living. I will certainly give the names to the police.

      Mulally was a tough cookie. I think he would have possibly kept this story from the fragile Philbin who looked after his bee hives and translated ancient Greek into Irish.

    4. Making honey while Down and Connor "burns"

    5. Pat, you have my support and encouragement in naming these men to the police. Your own burden at carrying this for years is almost palpable in this post and I hope at least it will ease your own burden even if the lady has died or the men are never convicted
      They took advantage of a particular circumstance and even if not convicted it would suggest to similar monsters that they cannot just do what they feel like.
      Not forgetting that humans tend to repeat patterns of behaviour, so who knows what a DNA test could reveal?

    6. Thank you. The fact that it was never resolved for the poor woman is a great source of sadness to me. I was less than 30 when she revealed this to me and I still had strong faith in the Church and the goodness of priests.

      I dreamt about this woman last night and that dream made me write this blog.

      These men did what they liked for years in D&C and NO ONE ever challenged them or held them to account.

      I know that this was not their only strike and they have used and abused women for years.

      Just like Ciaran Dallat who STILL has the full support of Noel Treanor and who is soon to be appointed to a new ministry !!!!

      It seems to me that the worse you are the more you thrive in D&C.

      I was despatched 30 years ago for telling Daly some truths and being in the media.

      Anyway the Good Lord has watched over me.

  3. Pat, I have a sense that a great day of reckoning is coming for Down and Connor and for people like Mulally, Philbin, Daly, Walsh and Treanor.

    You are one, if not the harbinger of this day!

    Retired Priest.

  4. Pat, go to the police. They are the proper investigating authority. Let them make the decisions. They will go where the evidence takes them.
    Retired PSNI.

    1. Your initial question was - was the claim true???
      Technically - not answered!
      Do as the retired PSNI suggests - go to the police and do it now TODAY!!!

  5. Fr Pat...
    I have become so disillusioned with my faith. I am in my 40s now and it breaks my heart.
    There have been instances over the years relating to family members and friends which has involved a few priests within D&C which has caused this, one priest has made headlines and some have managed to remain hidden and as a result of this I have moved away from the church.
    I feel my children need Religion as a comfort throughout life and they have been baptised and attend catholic schools but I cannot bring myself to follow the church to the way I was brought up.
    This poor woman needs her case brought forward to the authorities and publicised.
    I have read so many other stories relating to different scenarios but this is something so shocking! Those men are in positions of trust whether collar on or off....please bring this woman's story to the courts!

    1. Pat, you really must go to the PSNI.

      The two "priests" whose names you remember - have you ever put to them the woman's allegations? If not, you should.

      You should have gone to the police at the time it was reported - but there's no point going there. We can't go back in time.

      But you must go the police NOW! Those criminals are a danger to women.

      Maybe there is some significance in the lady coming to you in your sleep? Maybe she still needs your help today?

  6. I hope this lady finds the courage to approach the authorities regarding this disturbing incident. God only knows how she has coped with carrying this burden around with her for so long, it has had to destroy her life. These criminals should be made accountable for their actions, what kind of sick individuals are they ? And you say they were men of the cloth ! Pat this lady needs to be listened to, I hope she will contact you again. Today she would be listened to by the Police., probably still silenced by the church.

  7. Well, Pat, at least two of the five sick bastards will be sh***ing themselves today, waiting on your phone call and maybe a visit from the police!!

  8. This is the worst thing I have ever heard! Five priests plying a woman with alcohol and gang-raping her. You have to expose this, Pat. What other horrific tales are still to come out about this sick diocese?

    1. There are plenty of others.

      And Bishop Treanor is making this worse be reappointing Ciaran Dallat to ministry.

      No one seems to care !!!!!

    2. All the more reason to keep the spotlight's glare relentlessly fixed on them, Pat. Filthy shower of evil bastards! Hell will not be full until they are all burning in it.

  9. I hope this crime has been reported to the police today.

  10. Pat, this story needs to be made public and the names of the priests you remember need to be given to the Psni so that they are brought to justice

    1. Today I have given all the information I have,including the names of the priests to the PSNI special unit.

    2. Well done, good and faithful servant.

  11. Thank God there are good people with conscience like you . I hope the lady contacts you .

  12. Replies
    1. No one deserves thanks for doing the right thing :-) I wish it could all have been addressed years ago. But NI in the early 1980's was such a different place.

    2. Well those who do the right thing not only deserve thanks but the knowledge that others agree. The fate of the whistle blower is to feel alone and have people try to discredit him. No matter how strong you are it is human nature to have doubts and at a time like this it can help to be reminded that you're doing the right thing!

    3. MourneManMichael30 April 2016 at 13:32

      Well said Anon @ 21:48. Admirably put. Having been through that 'process' myself, I know just how true that is.

  13. You will always have support Pat...never feel alone, know that others will hold your pillow :-)

  14. Pat you have a head for media. I'm sure a good invesgative journalist could work with some info. Also is waddell media still about in the North. They did 4thought for Ch4