Sunday, June 16, 2024

Scholar calls on church body for honesty over sex beast reverend

A professor has implored the Church of Ireland Historical Society (COIHS) to come clean over the paedophile minister who founded the organisation.

The late Rev Bill Neely was exposed as a child molester by Sunday Life in October 2022 when courageous former cop, Belfast man Eddie Gorman, spoke out about the abuse he suffered.

Following the revelations the COIHS quietly removed all mention of Neely from their website despite his central role in its formation and an annual postgraduate prize once bearing his name.

No explanation for this has been forthcoming from the COIHS and they have never addressed the abuse inflicted on children by their founder. The society is a separate entity from the church which aims to promote the study of Irish church history and encourage research.

Following a recent legal victory by the Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Life and other media groups which struck down legislation granting anonymity to sex offenders who were not charged, a Dublin-based scholar has urged the society to be honest about Neely’s crimes.

Dr Niall Meehan, head of the journalism and media faculty at Griffith College Dublin, sent a letter to COIHS top brass insisting there is a need for candour from the organisation.

He writes: “You have not responded to queries about the silent deletion, without explanation, of your founder’s name, the Rev WG (William) Neely, from COIHS web pages and/or to alteration of historic pages on awarding the WG Neely Prize.

“If your mistaken policy was due to an interpretation of provisions of NI’s Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Act, you are now freed from its restrictions.

“Belfast High Court struck down the act which granted automatic anonymity to people who are suspected of sexual offences.

“That decision represents an important victory for media freedom, plus for your freedom and mine.

“Please, as soon as you can do so, make a statement on your founder Rev WG Neely and insert it on your COIHS web pages.

“Please include in that statement an explanation for renaming the WG Neely Prize and alteration of COIHS web pages referring to past winners of the prize. Please (also) include some words to the effect that public exposure of gross misuse of adult power over children is important.

“If nothing else, it gives hope to traumatised victims that their suffering is recognised and it encourages them to speak with confidence.

“That would be the correct thing to do, morally, ethically and educationally.”

Dr Meehan’s letter, sent on June 3, has gone unanswered and the COIHS did not respond to request for comment.

Last December, the Church of Ireland settled with Eddie Gorman over the abuse Rev Neely subjected him to shortly before Mr Gorman passed away.

When Sunday Life and the Belfast Telegraph website carried a story about the settlement, a letter was sent by Keoghs solicitors to Editor-in-Chief Eoin Brannigan, pointing out the sections of the act.

The letter sent by Keoghs said: “This means that WN (William Neely) cannot be named until 2034 and no reports should have been made by the press doing so.”

The letter did not say on whose behalf it was sent but Keoghs was the firm instructed by the Church of Ireland’s Diocese of Down and Dromore in the case brought by Mr Gorman.