Gilmore denies Ministers campaigning on Brady


TÁNAISTE EAMON Gilmore said Government Ministers were not seeking to drive Cardinal Seán Brady out of office.

“It’s not the case,” he told reporters in Dublin yesterday. “There is a separation in this country between church and State. It is not the Government’s responsibility to decide who are bishops or who should remain as bishops, or archbishops or cardinals – that’s entirely a matter for the church.

“What is the Government’s business is to ensure that there is adequate protection provided for in this State for children.

“We have seen appalling episodes of the abuse and rape of children in this country by people who have responsibility over them, including clergy people and, in effect, a cover-up of that in many respects by church authorities.

“What the Government is doing to deal with that is . . . putting in place very robust legislation, the Children First guidelines, on a legislative basis, which will make it a crime for somebody to withhold information that a child has been abused. That legislation will apply to everybody, including those in the church.”

Denying that he was putting any pressure on the cardinal to resign, Mr Gilmore said: “That’s a matter for him.”

Asked by journalists in Castlebar if the authority of Cardinal Brady had been undermined by recent revelations, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it is was not for him to determine who led the Catholic Church, or any other organisation in Ireland.

“Clearly the controversy surrounding Cardinal Brady is about the acceptance of responsibility and it is the responsibility of the State to enact laws to protect children,” he said.

He added that last year in the Dáil he had spoken about the need for serious change in the Vatican and also for the State to act.

“I accept my responsibility in this and am putting the State’s house in order in so far as the protection of children is concerned,” he said.

Minister for Health James Reilly said that Cardinal Brady had already tried to resign, and that it was down to the Vatican to allow him to do so.

“I believe that he has already tried to resign and therefore I think the Vatican now needs to look to itself if it’s serious about the church in this country recovering. They should allow him do the right thing, which he tried to do 18 months ago,” Mr Reilly said.

“I do believe that the moral authority of the church has been seriously eroded and they’ve an uphill struggle to regain that,” he added.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said that it was her personal opinion that the cardinal’s position was not sustainable:

“I think that Cardinal Brady ought to reflect on his position. He is a religious person, he has a responsibility. He was a man in his middle 30s at the time, who was a doctor of divinity,” she said.

“I personally think that he needs to reflect on his position and, were he to ask me for my view, on a personal basis I would say that his position is not really sustainable,” Ms Burton said.

Sinn Féin spokeswoman Mary Lou McDonald said that Catholics around the country were witnessing a story in which the church had displayed ambiguity in respect of the protection of children. “I find that profoundly unacceptable and deeply disturbing.

“My own personal view at this juncture is that the cardinal’s position is not tenable. It’s also said by somebody who is a Catholic.

“I think a 14-year-old boy had the integrity and the courage to know what had to be done and those who were charged with the responsibility of care to him couldn’t rise to those standards,” she said.