The Dublin commission: Background

 

The Commission of Investigation, Dublin Archdiocese came about because of the RTÉ Prime Timeprogramme Cardinal Secrets, broadcast in October 2002.

Produced by Mary Raftery, with Mick Peelo reporting, it investigated the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese.

The then minister for justice Michael McDowell said he was "very alarmed" by the programme which he found "deeply disturbing".

It led to the Commission of Investigation Act 2004, which allowed for the setting up of a type of inquiry which was more cost effective and efficient than a tribunal.

Under that Act the Commission of Investigation, Dublin Archdiocese was set up in March 2006, with a brief to report within 18 months.

Chaired by Ms Justice Yvonne Murphy, assisted by barrister Ita Mangan and solicitor Hugh O’Neill, it was to investigate the handling of allegations of clerical child sex abuse in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese by Church and State authorities covering the period January 1st, 1975 to April 30th, 2004, when Cardinal Desmond Connell stepped down as Archbishop of Dublin.

The commission’s work was done in private with confidentiality expected from and assured for participants.

Owing to the volume of material dealt with, concerning allegations against a sample of 46 accused priests from the relevant period, the commission sought time extensions. It presented its completed report to the Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern last July.

As some of the priests dealt with are currently before the courts, the Minister sought the Attorney General’s guidance on how to proceed. He was advised to seek the advice of the High Court, as recommended in such circumstances by the 2004 Act. He did so on September 8th last.

The edited report was not cleared for publication by Mr Justice Paul Gilligan of the High Court until November 19th.