Call to extend commission's inquiry to every diocese


ONE IN FOUR REACTION:ONE IN Four founder Colm O’Gorman has called for the remit of the commission investigating clerical child abuse in the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin to be extended to include every diocese in the State.

He felt this was necessary as bishops were patrons of State-run schools in each diocese and child protection practices were “likely to be as bad” as those exposed in the Dublin report.

He also said that “it seems clear that within the Irish church, and especially the Vatican, there is no desire to remove bishops who were so clearly negligent” where child protection was concerned.

“I can’t see how the State can stand back and allow such a role [as schools’ patron] for bishops who have wilfully and deliberately put child protection to one side.”

Recent court decisions “meant that it wasn’t [Minister for Education] Batt O’Keeffe or the Department of Health and Children which are responsible for child protection at schools in Limerick diocese, but Donal Murray.”

Of the five bishops who were dealt with in the Dublin report and who are currently in office he “failed to understand how any organisation allows people who failed in such a crucial area remain in office”.

He rejected comments by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin in a RTÉ Radio 1 interview on the This Week programme yesterday that it was up to Bishop Murray to decide to resign.

He pointed out that the Vatican had asked Bishop Brendan Comiskey to resign as Bishop of Ferns in 2002. He was “very disappointed” with Archbishop Martin’s comments yesterday and with his suggestion that the commission’s report was somewhat like a prosecutor’s brief; that we had to wait to hear the argument for the defence.

The commission had heard both sides of the case, he said, as we would find out when it came to payment of legal costs for relevant bishops. “Where is the credible leadership now?” he asked.

He found it “staggering” that the archbishop should compare the example of “mental reservation”, employed by Éamon de Valera, to allow him sign the oath of allegiance on entering the Dáil in 1927, with the use of the same device to cover up the rape and abuse of children.

What was needed now was emergency child protection legislation from the departments of Education, as well as Health and Children.

Further, the papal nuncio should be summoned to the Department of Foreign Affairs and a clarification should be demanded of him as to why “his sovereign government refused co-operation with our sovereign Government” where the commission’s work was concerned.

This was particularly so “given the extraordinary relationship this State had with the Vatican”. There should be “strong action” as both the nuncio’s and Vatican’s behaviour in the context was “obscene”.