Inquiry over Ledwith making progress


The McCullough inquiry, set up by the trustees of St Patrick's College, Maynooth, to investigate claims that complaints in 1983/4 about Mgr Michael Ledwith there were ignored, is "progressing more satisfactorily than reports in The Irish Times would suggest", according to Mr Denis McCullough SC.

The inquiry was set up in June following media reports that senior seminarians at the college had met up to nine trustee-bishops there in 1983/4 to express concern about behaviour of then college vice-president Mgr Michael Ledwith towards junior colleagues. When nothing happened the seminarians went to the college senior dean, Father Gerard McGinnity, to seek his help to have something done about their concerns and to ensure their clerical careers didn't suffer because of their initiative.

On bringing the matter to the attention of college authorities, Father McGinnity was invited to take sabbatical leave for a year, after which he was refused permission to return to Maynooth.

Commenting on the inquiry, Mr McCullough told The Irish Time "everybody has been very co-operative so far". Having spoken to some seminarians from the period, he now intended interviewing trustee-bishops from then.

It is understood Mr McCullough has spoken to four seminarians from the 1983/4 period, two of whom were part of the group which attempted to alert the trustee-bishops to the activities of Mgr Ledwith. It is unclear why he decided to interview the other two who, it is understood, were not involved at the time.

Of the remainder of the core group, three have explicitly refused to be interviewed by Mr McCullough, as has Father McGinnity. They, and Father McGinnity, did, however, co-operate with the recent Birmingham investigation into the Ferns diocese. Mgr Ledwith is a priest of that diocese.

A member of the core group, who spoke to Mr McCullough, said last night that he was "quite appalled at the lack of response of the bishops then, who not only ignored what we told them but promoted to president the man we spoke about". It horrified him that because they were not listened to "other people suffered abuse, including their parents".

A married man with family, he was "not bitter, just incredibly disappointed for those other people".

He was also annoyed that he and his colleagues, all mature students who had worked many years before entering Maynooth, were treated so dismissively then.