Councillor denies call to rename Archbishop Ryan Park


LABOUR DUBLIN City councillor Mary Freehill has insisted that she has not called for the name of Archbishop Ryan Park, better known as Merrion Square in Dublin, to be changed.

She said yesterday that she had proposed a motion at a meeting of the city council on December 7th last inviting comments from people on the name of the park. Her motion was agreed and the council is to place advertisements in the media inviting such comments. She agreed she was prompted to propose the motion following findings of the Murphy report about Archbishop Dermot Ryan.

Archbishop of Dublin from 1972 to 1984, he transferred ownership of Merrion Square to the city in 1974. At one time the Catholic Church in Dublin had hoped to build a cathedral there. The issue of name change for Archbishop Ryan Park was discussed on Joe Duffy’s Spirit Level programme on RTÉ 1 last Sunday.

However, Ms Freehill felt the park might be more appropriately named after one of the many literary figures who had lived at Merrion Square.

She instanced Yeats, George Russell (AE), Sheridan Le Fanu, Oscar Wilde, as well as Daniel O’Connell.

The Murphy report was very critical of Archbishop Ryan. On abuse allegations, it found that he “failed to properly investigate complaints, among others, against Fr McNamee, Fr Maguire, Fr Ioannes, Fr X, Fr Septimus and Fr Carney. He also ignored the advice given by a psychiatrist in the case of Fr Moore . . . subsequently convicted of a serious assault on a young teenager”.

It found he had “a deliberate policy to ensure that knowledge of the problems was as restricted as possible. This resulted in a disastrous lack of co-ordination in responding to problems.”

His handling of the Fr McNamee case was “an example of how, throughout the 1970s, the church authorities were more concerned with the scandal that would be created by revealing Fr McNamee’s abuse rather than any concern for the abused”.

The archbishop “should have taken immediate action” when he received reports about Fr McNamee. That he “allowed him stay in Crumlin for a further 15 months was wrong”.

As for Fr Ioannes, “the handling of the initial complaint in 1974 was quite simply disastrous and typical of its time”. Parents alleging abuse of a son in 1974 spoke to a priest who wrote to the archbishop.

On the Fr Thomas Naughton case, the report found that church authorities, “particularly Bishop Murray, the Valleymount parish priest and archbishops Ryan and McNamara let down those families who, because they were good Catholics, trusted the church to do something about this man.”

It found the handling of allegations relating to Fr Bill Carney was “nothing short of catastrophic”. The archdiocese “was inept, self-serving and, for the best part of 10 years, displayed no obvious concern for the welfare of children”.