The Bishop of Derry, Dr. Seamus Hegarty, said accusations had been made against 26 priests in his diocese over the past 50 years, although there had been only one successful prosecution.
Nine of the priests against whom allegations were made are now dead. Allegations against others were either withdrawn, failed because of disputes over identity, or were determined not to be cases of child sex abuse.
One priest was stood down, another paid money to a claimant without admitting liability and another is recent and ongoing. Two cases resulted in prosecutions and one of these was successful, said Hegarty.
He told victims he could not express enough his heartfelt and unreserved apologies for a report which, he said, was a catalogue of criminal abuse and sacred trust betrayed that was devastating for the innocent people who had been wounded.
The Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr. Patrick Walsh, said the recently published report on the Ferns diocese in County Wexford had made for “shameful reading” and it was time “not only to apologize” but to implement “clear policies and strict procedures.”
“Child protection must be at the heart and core of all our contact with young people,” he added. “Our first concern must be to reach out to victims and to ensure that what has happened will never happen again.”
On Friday, Down and Connor diocese, the largest in Northern Ireland, released statistics showing that 15 priests have been accused of sex abuse there over the past 50 years.
Five priests were dead at the time of the allegations. Three priests have been convicted and payments totaling