Up to 450 victims of abusers have been identified by the Dublin Diocese Commission in a report into clerical child abuse that was handed over to Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern today.
The report of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse will name 15 priests, 11 who have been convicted in the courts and four who are already well known.
In a statement this afternoon, Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, confirmed he had received the report.
“I am anxious that the matters dealt with in the report are put into the public domain as quickly as possible. Equally, I am concerned that nothing should be done which would harm the prospects of the perpetrators of these horrific acts of depravity against children being brought to the justice they deserve,” he said.
“The law under which the commission was established provides that, if the Minister considers that the publication of a report from a commission might prejudice any criminal proceedings that are pending or in progress, the Minister must apply to the High Court for directions concerning publication of the report,” his statement said.
Mr Ahern said he is now referring the report to the Attorney General for advice on how best to proceed.
The Minister said that he is determined that this matter will be dealt with “as expeditiously as possible”. A copy of the report is also being forwarded to Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Barry Andrews.
Mr Ahern thanked Judge Yvonne Murphy, chairwoman of the commission, and her staff for their work.
Set up in March 2006, the commission has investigated how child sex abuse allegations against a representative sample of 46 priests was handled by 19 bishops in Dublin between January 1st, 1975, and April 30th, 2004.
The focus of the report is on a power culture centred on the bishops and how this influenced their handling of allegations.
It was thought likely that Mr Ahern will refer the report to Attorney General Paul Gallagher, as it deals with three men currently before the courts. Two of those men have served sentences in connection with child abuse, while the third has pleaded guilty to the latest charges against him, although a further allegation has emerged since then.
The earliest date set for the trial of any of the men is April 2010.
It is possible the Attorney General may decide to publish the report in full, and soon, with the three relevant men given pseudonyms.
Of the 19 bishops investigated in the report, seven are deceased. The 19 include four archbishops of Dublin – Most Rev John Charles McQuaid, Most Rev Dermot Ryan, Most Rev Kevin McNamara and Cardinal Desmond Connell. Thirteen of the other bishops were or are auxiliary bishops in Dublin. They include Bishop Joseph Carroll (deceased), Bishop Brendan Comiskey (resigned as Bishop of Ferns in 2002), Bishop Martin Drennan (Bishop of Galway), Bishop Patrick Dunne (deceased), Bishop Ray Field (auxiliary Bishop in Dublin), Bishop Laurence Forristal (Bishop of Ossory to 2007).
Also included are Bishop James Kavanagh (deceased), Bishop Jim Moriarty (Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin), Bishop Donal Murray (Bishop of Limerick), Bishop Dermot O’Mahony (retired), Bishop Fiachra Ó Ceallaigh (auxiliary bishop in Dublin), Bishop Eamonn Walsh (auxiliary bishop in Dublin and apostolic administrator to Ferns diocese from April 2002 to April 2006), and Bishop Desmond Williams (deceased).