Bishop Donal Murray and the Death of Peter McCloskey

Abuse victim committed suicide after failing to soften bishop’s heart

Bishop Donal Murray, former auxiliary bishop of Dublin and now bishop of Limerick since 1996, came in for severe criticism in the Murphy report for  inexcusably failing to investigate  complaints from sex-abuse victims.

Yesterday, Murray made a statement in which he rejected this finding by the Commission and refused to resign.  But 0f course, indifference to the suffering of a victim is nothing unusual for Donal Murray.

In 1980 and 1981, a priest called Denis Daly, who had formerly worked in Australia, raped Peter McCloskey on multiple occasions. Peter was an 11-year-old child when he was raped.  More than 20 years later, in 2002, Peter McCloskey approached Murray about his experiences at the hands of his rapist, but was met with hostility and aggression.  Instead of listening to a victim’s suffering, Murray hired a highly aggressive lawyer, a specialist in protecting the church against such claims, and issued terrifying legal threats against Peter.

In 2004, McCloskey went to Australia to examine the file held on his abuser by the priest’s former diocese. The file contained documents covering 30 years of sexual abuse by Daly, and included correspondence between the Australian church authorities and those in Ireland.

When he came home, Peter McCloskey again aproached Murray but encountered further evasion, denial and hostility from the clergy even though these men knew perfectly well that Daly was a sexual abuser. The legal threats were repeated: if Peter went public with his accusations, the church would crucify him in a court of law.

Peter became depressed by Murray’s dismissal and rejection of his experiences.  In March 2006 he attended what was euphemistically described as a  mediation conference with the Limerick diocese, but which turned out to be a full-scale mental and legal assault on him.

This was the sensitivity Donal Murray showed to a rape victim.  This was Donal Murray’s way of investigating a complaint against a priest of his diocese.

Two days later,  Peter McCloskey took his own life.

Donal Murray is still in his bishop’s palace.



Statement from Mary McCloskey



A recent comment had to be removed because it contained defamatory statements.

On further reflection, it has been decided to close the comments on this post, which is a most unusual thing for Bock, and therefore some kind of explanation is needed.

Without going into details, it seems that there is a dimension to this story outside the scope of the original post.

After discussion, a decision has been made that allowing further comments on this post would not be in the best interests of the McCloskey family.



Murphy Report Part 1

Murphy Report Part 2


All Bock posts on the Murphy Report

25 thoughts on “Bishop Donal Murray and the Death of Peter McCloskey

  1. If I was Peter McCloskey, not only would I have gone public and ignored their threats, I would have taken the files from Australia and made sure they were published. Donal Murray should be hung, drawn and quartered. He’s as bad as the rapist priest. I disagree with Mary McCloskey however where she says, ‘ I believe if he (Donal Murray) examines his conscience with real honesty he will realise that he must now step down from his position’. The man obviously doesn’t have a conscience of any reasonable standards. He should be made step down and he should be publicly humiliated with the disregard and contempt he showed to the victims of these crimes, committed by his colleagues.
    These fools should know that the truth always comes out in the end and their blatant attempts to cover up for one of their own will be known by all.

  2. Peter showed bravery in ways that the rest of us will never have to! its because of his tireless effort that a lot of this kind of abuse has come to light. When his name comes to mention I can see his lovely blond curly childhood face in my mind! the hollywood picture perfect little alter boy look . He was a beautiful child with a great sense of humor he took on the entire church and in the end they crushed his soul . The fact that we still talk of him speaks volumes! even in death they couldnt shut him up its hard to quiten the truth its too loud in our ears.

  3. The Church’s hierarchy, without exception, and I include the fucking POPE, are all guilty, all have most likely done exactly similar to similarly abused victims of their pedophile colleagues; death is too good for them as it can only be visited upon them but once.

    Fuck the bastards. Scum.

  4. I knew Peter McCloskey well. He was destroyed by the action of that priest Daly. But more he was ruined and took his life because they didnt believe him. He couldnt get any information from the church – brick wall.
    The way the church especially Murray treated him was a disgrace. Peter did try and go public, he wrote a book under a pseudoname, detailing a lot of the abuse. He was destroyed. The McCloskeys were a proud very devout family, Peter himself was away to be a priest but that didnt work out (what a surprise). I’m gonna stop writing because im getting too angry!

  5. Bock, For once I have lost my breath and am shocked. What the hell is going on in Ireland?. Deport that man Murray to the Vatican along with the other black coats. They are agents of a foreign juristdiction. Something has to break in Ireland, it just wont hold together anymore.

  6. @Charles O’Rourke

    Now that is a really interesting proposal. Does the Vatican have citizens. Do Bishops qualify. If so could we deport them the same way you return junk mail without a stamp.

    Please advise.

  7. Benny, The Vatican is a State just like Ireland. It issiues dipomatic passports to its agents. In refusing information to the Irish government it cited reasons of inapropriate channels of diplomacy. It appoints ambasadors to countries such as USA, Ireland and so on. The Vatican can refuse the extradiction of its citizens, a known case is the former bishop of Boston Bernard Law who is hideing in the Vatican despite requests for his extradiction by American Justice Authorities. People can be deported from the Vatican State. People can be deported to the Vatican State. Bisops and Cardinals are agents of the Vatican and their loyalty is not with Ireland but with the Vatican. At the end of the second World War passports were issiued to prominent Nazi,s by the Vatican State to facilitate their escape from Europe to South America. The possibility of deporting Bisops to the Vatican is real if the political will exists. What do you thnk of that Benny?.

  8. Charles — The request for information did not come from the government.I came from an independent commission of inquiry and the Vatican ignored it in order to avoid becoming involved in possible financial claims.

  9. I’m sorry boyo we do not deport, ever. But do you remember all those penal laws stories where the priest was perched on some mountain saying mass, only to have the Red Coated scum hunt him to his death.
    Now, there were priest hunters, and they did receive cash if they found. But it was not the person they were after, Oh No, ever thought that the Ad limina and the gift might not be such a good thing, funny germany has thought so for a while and France since the destruction of the Templars. Well, do you not think it unusual that there is NO, none, nada mention of the Gold that the priest carried.

  10. The whole Catholic church in Ireland should be shut down and put out of business for thats what they are a business. The whole sorry outfit is run by Paedo%£”es,how can anyone got to church in this country after this. But it does not stop there why were these politicians over the years also covering it up.
    This outfit would not have been able to operate without their help.
    As for Murray he should be arrested for aiding and abetting. How dare he think he can just sit this out without talking any responsibility.
    Just read on line a very good item in The Independent.
    “Abuse report ignores failure of State to stop the horrors”

  11. Hello everyone, I am Joseph McCloskey, Peter’s older brother.

    I found this website late last night, and was very interested to read the coverage of Peter’s case.

    The publication of the Ryan Report, and the Murphy Report, have been traumatic for my family. Nevertheless, it is necessary and very positive to see the truth declared. People have suffered in silence for too long.

    I attended the Diocesan Mediation, with Peter, on 30th March 2006, as a support for Peter. The Limerick Diocese imposed several conditions and restrictions around that Mediation process, including a legal agreement that both myself and Deirdre Fitzpatrick (of One in Four) were required to sign, and from which we have never been released, despite many calls for Bishop Murray to set that legal agreement aside. When my Mum Mary and I met with with Bishop Murray on 23rd April 2006, three weeks after Peter’s death, there was a joint statement issued. Bishop Murray agreed to a process where the group of people who met on 30th March and those who met on 23rd April would meet shortly to chart a way forward. I am the only person who was present at both meetings. The promised meeting of the two groups never happened. Instead, Bishop Murray initiated a unilateral process where he wanted each family member interviewed, individually, by Dr. Kevin McCoy. There was no consultation whatsoever with my family about this. It was an imposed process, one which we refused to cooperate with until such time as Bishop Murray honoured the promise and agreement that he freely entered into with My Mum Mary, Colm O’Gorman and myself.

    I do not understand what was so difficult about honouring a simple agreement. Do you?

    Very simply, a meeting of the two groups of people was agreed and promised. It never happened.

    Bishop Murray’s life’s work is at nought, and every success, throughout his career, will be assessed in the context of his failure to look after God’s most precious children. It is tragic that he was, and is, so misguided. I watched him on the 9pm RTE News on Thursday night, 26th November 2009, and he is incapable of facing the reality of his failure. The man just does not understand. It is unbelieveable, isn’t it.

    I am left to ask why? Why would Good Men, indeed God’s representatives on earth, protect criminals?


    Before Christmas 2005 there was supposed to have been a Diocesan Mediation, however, that was abandoned when Peter discovered that there was another allegation against Fr. Denis Daly from his time in Australia.

    Peter also travelled to Sydney Australia and returned home with a file on Fr. Denis Daly which Irish Church authorities said did not exist, despite they having it in their possession all along. Peter was deeply affected at the extent of the lies and deceit. They allowed him go all the way to Sydney, rather than share the information of Fr. Denis Daly’s past.

    In 1963, the NSW Police, in Sydney, insisted on Fr. Denis Daly’s removal and repeated that demand in 1966. My brother Peter was born in 1969, six years after the police removed Father Denis Daly for the first time. The greater sin is committed by those clergy that enabled a pedophile to run free in the precious world of childhood and innocence.

    In 1963, when the Police in Sydney insisted on the removal of Fr. Denis Daly, without prosecution, the file records that he was guilty of a “Moral Lapse”.

    Why did no one act, when they should have?

    Why was Fr. Denis Daly allowed to roam free in the world of precious children?

    Peter rose up out of the trenches, and went out onto No Mans Land, and onto the field of battle, where he was shot to pieces, by a litigious process at the Diocesan Mediation on Thursday 30th March 2006. Peter was mortally wounded that day, it simply took until Saturday for him to die. I will never forget how Peter was treated that day. My father Aidan says, “A criminal would have been treated better than my son Peter was at the hands of Bishop Donal Murray and his team”.

    It is ironic that the day Peter died is April Fools day.

    Have no doubt about the impact of Peter’s experience, at the Diocesan Mediation. It was the final degradation and it was time to leave. I just wish Peter was here today to stand beside Andrew Madden, Colm O’Gorman and Marie Collins and witness the truth seeing the light of day. Victims of abuse have suffered long and hard for their voices to be heard, and they deserve our unflinching support and encouragement.

    I need to say very clearly that Peter suffered two forms of abuse. Firstly, there was the abuse suffered at the hands of Fr. Denis Daly as a young boy. Secondly, there was the abuse Peter suffered from the time he came forward as a man to reveal the reality of his childhood experience. The abuse that Peter suffered once he came forward, is what killed Peter. Over a sustained period Peter was mentally, emotionally and inhumanely treated. Peter was stonewalled, told that he was a liar, and repeatedly threatened with legal action and legal costs. The more damaging abuse was the way the current Bishop of Limerick, Dr. Donal Murray dealt with Peter once he came forward.

    Peter now rests in Kilcrona, overlooking his beloved River Shannon, with the Light of Kilcredaun forever more to guide him.

    To explain. Peter was out late one evening on the Shannon, on his boat AKAS, and when I phoned him, he was worried that he would get back to shore safely. He gave me his position at The Red Can Buoy, heading for the leading lights of Querrin, and his bearing for the Kilcredaun Light, as he headed for the fishing village of Carrigaholt. It was a bad night and the weather had worsened considerably in a very short time.

    I think that now is a good time for me to travel out and say “Hello” to him.

    Regards to all, and on Peter’s behalf, I say “Thank You” for your support and understanding.

    Joseph McCloskey

  12. I feel sick to my stomach. Is there anything we can do.
    Warmest regards to the McCloskey family at this time. I cant think of anything to say really.

  13. Joseph, thanks for what you wrote. You’re a brave man, and you honout your brother’s memory

    Bishop Murray, I read lately, says he is answerable only to the people and priests of Limerick. Is there any way that we, the people of Limerick, can remove this blight from office?

  14. Dear Mr McCloskey

    My deepest sympathies to you and all your family on the tragic death of your brother Peter.

    I believe Peter in his approaches to, and negotiations with, the Catholic Church was looking for an admission of the deep wrongs inflicted on him by that Church. From your comments also, it seems the burning issue for you was not criminal prosecution by the state of the individual wrongdoers; but rather an exposure of the truth of his abuse, both as a child and as a man.

    Your brother was a brave and committed man with a profound sense of justice.

    In this respect he walked the same path as that of many people in their dealings with the Church and the State.

    Peter fought a lonely battle, even with the help of family and friends, because no group of individuals can change the institutions of religious and state power. These very institutions,in this society, exist specifically to exploit, control and oppress the great mass of humanity in the interests of the class that rules.

    My view is that the Church must be removed from all institutions of the state. No monies, funds, subventions, tax breaks or financial relief of any sort should be given to the Catholic Church. Or any religion.

    The Church must be denied access to state media, schools, colleges, libraries, hospitals and any institution of the state. No religious ceremonies, demonstrations, vigils etc should be allowed in public spaces.

    A person’s right to practice their religion must be constitutionally protected. Under such legal entitlement religious organizations must be allowed to raise finance from their members to enable the church to function. The state cannot arbitrarily close places of religious worship or deny access to those places. Neither can it interfere with the functions of church officials.

    An audit must be taken of all Church property and finances with a view to restoring to the state, on behalf of it’s citizens, the wealth that the church misappropriated from the citizenry under the false premise that the Church was acting in the best interests of the people; and would use donations and state funds justly.

    The Church should be left with premises for its members to practice their religion. The state should take over the responsibility of housing Church officials at a fair rent; and supporting those officials who are old and infirm. The Church must pay the salaries of all its working officials.

    These proposals beg the question of the role of the state in the current political formation.

    The state as it stands has worked, and will continue to work, hand-in-glove with the Catholic Church in a common front against the citizenry, and in the interests of the rich and powerful. Neither the Church nor the state will change under pressure from any quarter. They are what they are. That is why Peter’s battle was so brave; but also why he could not win.

  15. Thank you, Joseph.
    I am so sorry that Peter, you and your family had to go through those two abuses.
    The Catholic churchmen are not very Catholic.

    Sure that Bishop in Limerick is worse than our “prince” in Cloyne aka John Magee.
    He wouldn’t resign either, and still hasn’t.
    We know the difference, do they?
    It seems to be church policy to protect their own.
    The children will get over it, the coffers mightn’t!


  16. Bock, I stand corrected. The request did not come from the Irish Govenment to the Vatican, How dare a government do such a thing.

  17. My thanks to Joseph McCloskey for taking the trouble to write this. It must be very hard on the family t see the whole thing awakened again.

  18. Bock – Thanks as usual for fearless coverage of this serial crime visited on the most vulnerable. I have linked the post on my blog and highlight in particular Joseph McCloskey’s reply.

  19. Joseph McCloskey,

    I am so very sorry for your brother’s suffering, and for your and your family’s loss.

    Speed the day when these strange arrogant inhuman men in their silken robes are driven from their palaces, and their organisation stripped of its wealth and power, that they may never again rape children with impunity.

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