Taoiseach will raise child sex abuse during pope meeting

Leo Varadkar says it will be short meeting but he will raise ‘as many issues as I can’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meets Gareth Carroll and Mark Kiernan of Kiernan Milling along with one of their piglet friends at the 77th Virginia Agricultural in Virginia, Cavan on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meets Gareth Carroll and Mark Kiernan of Kiernan Milling along with one of their piglet friends at the 77th Virginia Agricultural in Virginia, Cavan on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

 

The Taoiseach will raise issues of human rights and child sex abuse when he meets Pope Francis during his visit to Ireland this weekend.

Mr Varadkar also said that any church records, whether in the Vatican or held by the Catholic Church in Ireland, relating to abuse and the activities or priests or others, should be handed over to investigating authorities.

Speaking on the margins of a visit to the Virginia Show in Co Cavan, Mr Varadkar said his meeting with the pope would last for “less than 10 minutes”.

“As much as I can, I am going to raise as many issues as I can but I don’t want to skirt over them or just do them in a tokenistic way,” he said.

“Ireland is a very different place than it was 40 years ago but it is still the case that 78 per cent of the people identify as Catholic, millions of people go to Mass on a regular basis and I think it is important to remember that, and hundreds of thousands of people are going to come out to see the pope over the weekend,” he said

“So my first words are absolutely going to be words of welcome on behalf of the Irish people . . . But there are a number of issues, ranging from human rights to child sex abuse, and I am going to want to talk about them as well.”

Mr Varadkar earlier strolled through the show, shaking hands and chatting with well-wishers and having his photograph taken.

He said the show was “one of the best agricultural shows around the country” and displayed an “enormous community spirit”.

‘Concerns’

The Taoiseach said the farming community had “real concerns about an emerging fodder crisis” and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed had announced that €4.25 million was being set aside to subsidise fodder imports. The Government was also bringing forward EU payments to help farmers.

Mr Varadkar said that all pre-budget expectations could not be met. However, any money saved should be used to reduce “taxes on income”.

“We have taken the vast majority of low-paid workers out of the income tax net altogether in the last couple of years and we want now to focus on middle income taxpayers, making sure that they don’t pay the highest rate of income tax, as they do now on very modest incomes,” he told reporters at the show.

On the so-called €1,000 “granny grant” idea floated by Minister for Transport Shane Ross, he said: “It is something that is under consideration for the budget. What we need to consider of course is, if we have extra money for welfare, if we have extra money for child care, what is the best way to deploy that in order to achieve things, what is the best way to prioritise money on childcare.”