Court to re-examine abuse report

 

A High Court judge is to examine a damning report of child sex abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese for a second time amid fears it may prejudice prosecutions.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said today he was sending the report back after clear advice from the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The court ruled last week that all but one section could be published, with chapter 19 fully censored and references to a priest and victims hidden.

But Mr Ahern revealed the DPP raised concerns over a second issue as government officials prepared for publication.

“I want to reiterate my strong desire to see this important report published as soon as possible,” the minister said.

“That desire is necessarily outweighed by the overwhelming imperative to ensure that nothing is done which would allow any of the perpetrators of this terrible abuse to walk free.”

Up to 450 people have made abuse allegations against former priests in the diocese since 1940.

It will be the second devastating scandal to rock the Church in Ireland this year after the Ryan report laid bare the physically and psychologically abusive regimes operated by religious orders in church and state-run institutions.

The latest report was referred to the High Court last July amid fears full disclosure of the inquiry into allegations against a sample 46 priests could prejudice trials of clerics facing prosecution.

They include 19 clerics in the Catholic hierarchy, including Cardinal Desmond Connell who last year dropped a potentially embarrassing court challenge to stop the Dublin Commission getting access to 5,586 secret Church files.

Seven of the bishops who served in Dublin are dead.

Department of Justice lawyers are expected to return to the High Court to apply for a second review.

Mr Ahern said: “This Government’s primary goal is to see the perpetrators of appalling abuse face justice and due punishment, and to ensure that these crimes against children are prevented in the future.”

The report had been expected to be released this week.

Meanwhile, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin warned the long-awaited report will be a painful reflection on society.

The senior cleric said it will also help point the way forward for dealing with paedophilia.

“I think it will provide a painful but an important reflection on society and where we should be going to address the sexual abuse of children,” the Archbishop said.

“It’s a terrible problem.”

The long-running Dublin inquiry, which has also been examining high-profile allegations in the Cloyne diocese in Cork, is headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy and has uncovered thousands of cases of abuse by priests.

Church hierarchy are expected to come in for fierce criticism.

The Archbishop said he did not know when the report will be released, but added: “It’s very interesting, this question was brought to the courts on September 8th and we are now six weeks on.

“It just goes to show that there is a very difficult balance that needs to be attained between the public interest and my interest in getting the report out and the need to avoid prejudicing prosecution or to ensure the right of anybody who has not had the opportunity to challenge what has been said.

“It’s the first time that this legislation has been used. It’s difficult.

“My hope is, and I’ve said this on many occasions, the sooner the report comes out the better.”

PA