Kenny has no regrets over critical Dáil speech


TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny has said he does not regret the strong content of his July speech which censured the Vatican following publication of the Cloyne report.

Shortly after the Holy See’s response to Mr Kenny’s criticisms was released on Saturday, he was asked whether he regretted his comments.

“No, I made my statement to the Dáil,” he replied.

Mr Kenny said Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore had asked the papal nuncio to respond to the Government on behalf of the Vatican in respect of a statutory commission of inquiry “quite a number of weeks ago”.

He added: “The Vatican have responded. I want to read the report.”

Mr Kenny referred in his July Dáil speech to an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry three years ago. He said the Vatican analysed evidence with “the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer”.

The Holy See statement will be discussed at this week’s Cabinet meeting, scheduled for Thursday.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said yesterday protecting children from abuse was more important than “legal and semantic argument”. She defended the Taoiseach’s criticisms of the Vatican, saying his comments reflected what most people in Ireland were feeling.

“The critical issue is that the Vatican should be particularly concerned about the care and protection of children. That really is the most important issue in this discussion. A lot of ordinary people don’t understand this very semantic, legal argument. They want to see structures put in place to ensure as far as possible that this doesn’t happen again,” Ms Burton said.

“I think what the Taoiseach said was a reflection of what so many people in the country felt. The care and protection of children should be the priority. The legal and semantic argument shouldn’t take precedence over the principle of protecting children.”

Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Richard Bruton said the Government would study the Vatican’s response before responding in detail.

“We need time to look at this and have a full response,” he told RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme. “The Vatican didn’t mend its hand, didn’t ensure that the church had proper procedures in place, and as a result is now coming out to express shame and sorrow for what happened in recent years in Cloyne.”

Mr Bruton said the Cloyne report was of the view that some material coming from the Vatican was “giving comfort” to those who would not fully co-operate with the inquiry.

“I do of course agree with that point of view. That is clear in the report, and while there may be legalistic argument about how that came to happen, that is the finding of the report and the Government clearly accepts that finding,” he added.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, speaking on Saturday, said it was important that the Government gave detailed consideration to the Vatican’s response. “I’m not going to prejudge that response until I’ve had an opportunity to read it,” he said.