Archbishop ‘couldn’t keep reading’ abuse details

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PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent

ARCHBISHOP of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has spoken of his personal torment on reading files in the diocese’s archives detailing clerical child sex abuse. In one instance he said it prompted him to throw documents to the ground.

It has also emerged that publication of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation report may be delayed, in whole or in part, due to ongoing court proceedings involving allegations of child sex abuse against men also investigated by the commission.

One such case has been adjourned until November.

Speaking in an interview, to be broadcast at 9pm tonight on TV3 in Abuse of Trust: Sins of the Fathers , Archbishop Martin recalls how “one weekend I decided to try and get through these documents. I came to the stage when I simply threw them on to the ground.

“I couldn’t keep reading. This is reality. It can’t be hidden and it shouldn’t be hidden.”

He also says that co-operating with the Dublin commission often caused him sleepless nights.

He would “turn over at night and wonder whether I have done the right thing or made a mistake”, he says.

Archbishop Martin handed over 66,583 documents to the commission, which is headed by Justice Yvonne Murphy.

It is investigating how clerical child sex abuse allegations, made between January 1st, 1975, and April 30th, 2004, and relating to cases from 1940, were handled by diocesan authorities.

Archbishop Martin has already revealed that, according to documents in the diocesesan archive, since 1940 more than 400 children were abused by at least 152 priests.

On January 31st, 2008, Archbishop Martin’s predecessor, Cardinal Desmond Connell, went to the High Court in an attempt to prevent 5,586 of the documents being handed over to the commission on grounds of privilege.

He later withdrew the action.

As well as addressing instances of clerical child sex abuse in Dublin, tonight’s TV3 programme also looks at the actions of church authorities in moving priests from parish to parish in the full knowledge that allegations had been made against them.

It features Marie Collins who was sexually abused when she was 12 years old by Fr Paul McGennis, then chaplain in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin’s Crumlin.

It also includes Andrew Madden who was abused by Ivan Payne, since laicised.

The Dublin commission report is expected to be presented to Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, by the end of this month.

Publication of the report is at the Minister’s discretion but it may be delayed as it deals with clergy and former clergy whose cases are currently before the courts.

It is expected therefore that Mr Ahern will refer the report to the Attorney General for his opinion.

This may mean the report could be published in redacted form, pending the conclusion of proceedings in the relevant court cases or it may mean that the entire report will be withheld from publication until those proceedings are completed.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

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