'A collar will protect no criminal'

 

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has warned that "a collar will protect no criminal".

Speaking at Government Buildings as the Commission of Investigation into Dublin’s Catholic Archdiocese report was released, Mr Ahern said there was no hiding place for those who had committed dreadful crimes against children.

"No Government can't guarantee that in the future there won't be evil people who will do evil things," he said.

"But the era where evil people could do so under the cover of the cloth, facilitated and shielded from the consequences by their authorities, while the lives of children were ruined with such cruelty, is over for good,” he said. "The bottom line is this: a collar will protect no criminal".

Mr Ahern appealed to people who had information about abuse to contact the Garda.

He said perpetrators of abuse must be pursued relentlessly to bring them to the justice they deserved.

He said he and the Garda Commissioner regretted profoundly that An Garda Siochána had not pursued allegations appropriately in some cases in the past.

"We will all have to reflect on how a situation came about that in former times a culture of deference to the Catholic Church could, in some cases, have had the effect of placing the behaviour of some clergy beyond the reach of the law."

It was not acceptable that institutions behaved or were treated as being above the law of the State, Mr Ahern said. "This is a Republic - the people are sovereign - and no institution, no agency, no church can be immune from that fact."

The findings of the report would be disillusioning for many people, he said.