Archbishop of Dublin defends Murphy Commission report

Martin praises late bishop who was criticised over handling of clerical abuse

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin at  the Door of Mercy at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Marlborough Street, Dublin. Photograph: Julien Behal/Maxwells

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin at the Door of Mercy at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Marlborough Street, Dublin. Photograph: Julien Behal/Maxwells


The Catholic archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has strongly defended the 2009 Murphy report on the handling of clerical child sexual abuse in the archdiocese, while praising the work of the late bishop Dermot O’Mahony, who was criticised in that report.

“I stand over the conclusions of the Murphy report,” he said, pointing to the fact that nobody had challenged it in the courts.

The report found that Bishop O’Mahony’s handling of complaints and suspicions of child sexual abuse was “particularly bad”, adding that he had been aware of such complaints involving 13 priests.

At the bishop’s funeral in Dublin last Tuesday, auxiliary bishop of Dublin Eamonn Walsh said the deceased had been “scapegoated in a society that at the time ignored the principle of equity, audi alteram partem, to hear the other side”.

Bishop Walsh said his late colleague “stood silently before his hearers knowing that to speak would cause greater pain to those who suffered”.

Prior to the funeral Mass, the late bishop’s brother, Gerry O’Mahony, said a statement of “profound regret” concerning findings in the Murphy report, and issued by Bishop O’Mahony to the archdiocese, “was never made public, leading to a media perception that Dermot did not express any remorse”.

‘Fair analysis

Archbishop MartinMurphy Commission

He had seen documentation forwarded by the archdiocese to the commission and “met many, many victims. I’ve listened to their stories.

“I regret that these people were treated that way. And I’ve no ifs and buts in this.”

The documentation meant “we were in possession of information about crimes.

“There was the feeling and there still is maybe, somehow or other, that the church can deal with these things itself, that it doesn’t have to go to the State. It has to do both.”

“My intention was not to respond to what was said at the funeral initially, particularly because of the family’s grief.

“Now some of these stories are being repeated and I feel I’ve an obligation to the people who work with me and to the truth.

“I do that in the spirit I had of great respect for Bishop O’Mahony.”

‘Touched lives’

Receiving the late bishop’s remains at St Anne’s Church in Shankill last Monday, “I did make it very clear that I had differences [with him] but funerals are not the time to get into polemics”.

However, Bishop O’Mahony conducted “robust engagement” with the Murphy Commission, using “very competent lawyers”, the archbishop said.

“He wouldn’t use the diocesan lawyers. The diocese paid for the other lawyers. So he had every possibility of defending himself.”

After the publication of the Murphy report, “Bishop O’Mahony did defend himself in letters to the Council of Priests, which were published.

“He made a statement about his relationship with the young people’s Lourdes pilgrimage. It’s not true to say that he didn’t defend himself.”

As to whether it was appropriate for Bishop Walsh to make such comments at the funeral, Archbishop Martin said: “I will talk to Bishop Walsh about what I think. I’m not going to make a public statement about it.”