'I was not aware of allegations of abuse until Archbishop Connell informed us'

Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway blessing new wards at their official opening at the Galway Clinic last month. Photograph: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway blessing new wards at their official opening at the Galway Clinic last month. Photograph: Joe O'Shaughnessy


INTERVIEW: Bishop Martin Drennan responds to questions concerning his time in the Dublin Archdiocese

BISHOP MARTIN Drennan of Galway replied yesterday to four questions posed to him by this newspaper last Tuesday concerning the handling of allegations of child sex abuse made against the late Fr Noel Reynolds.

The allegations were made to the archdiocese after Bishop Drennan was ordained an Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in September 1997 and also affected his areas of responsibility in the archdiocese, which were south Dublin and north Wicklow.

The questions and responses follow.

Was he aware of information available to the archdiocese about Fr Reynolds while he was chaplain at the National Rehabilitation Institute in Dún Laoghaire up to July 1998 and which was located within his area of the archdiocese? If so did he do anything about this?

“I took up duty in Dublin diocese in late September 1997 at which time Fr Reynolds was already appointed to the National Rehabilitation Institute. I would have understood this appointment to be part of the normal summer appointments, which the Archbishop always made. I was not told about Fr Reynolds’s history nor was it indicated that there was something unusual about his transfer to the National Rehabilitation Institute.

“Bishop Moriarty. He was to deal with whatever issues and questions would arise.”

Was he aware of the meeting attended by priests* of his own area of the archdiocese concerning Fr Reynolds? If so, did he do anything relevant following that meeting?

“What the report says is that priests in all the places where Fr Reynolds worked were brought together (cf 35.43), not all the priests of my area of responsibility. They were told about the allegations against Fr Reynolds. I did not attend that meeting, but I did have a meeting with the then parish priest of Glendalough, because of the implications for a parish and especially for a school in my area and because of the possibility of other victims coming forward.”

*The reference in the question is to priests of Glendalough parish.

Was he aware of the legal stance* adopted by the archdiocese against Martha and Mary after they initiated legal action in 2001? If so, did he do anything about it?

“I was not aware of the legal stance taken . . . The Murphy report draws attention to breakdown in communication in the archdiocese. At the time of my appointment, I was not furnished with information concerning priests working in my pastoral area.

“During the period covered by the Murphy report, when I was an auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese, the Archbishop made all major decisions, which was his responsibility by virtue of his office.”

*In opposing a legal action by Martha and Mary the archdiocese argued that, as it was not a legal entity, no claims could be made against it where allegations of abuse by Fr Reynolds of Martha and Mary were concerned. It denied it was the priest’s employer or had any supervisory role in relation to him. It claimed Cardinal Connell was not responsible in law for any alleged wrongdoings by the priest. It said the wrongs alleged against Fr Reynolds were criminal acts and were not a part of his duties.