Abuse report referred to court

Standard

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern today asked the High Court to decide on whether the latest report into child abuse in the Catholic Church can be published.

There are fears full disclosure of the inquiry into allegations against a sample 46 priests in the Dublin Archdiocese could prejudice the trials of three of them currently facing prosecutions.

Under the law, Mr Ahern must seek directions from the High Court if there are concerns about the impact of publishing findings ahead of any legal proceedings.

“When the report was published I indicated that I was anxious that the matters dealt with in the report would be put in the public domain as quickly as possible but that I was 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,” said Mr Ahern.

“The legal advice available to me as to how I must proceed is clear and the necessary steps are now being taken with all possible speed.”

If the High Court finds that releasing the report could prejudice any criminal proceedings, it can order the publication of part or all of the findings be withheld until court cases are completed.

Mr Ahern insisted the findings of the Government-ordered inquiry would have to be fully-vetted before being released when handed a copy of the report on July 21.

The Archdiocese has confirmed up to 450 people have made abuse allegations against former priests since 1940.

The inquiry, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy investigated the sample of 46 priests, who have had complaints against them, over three decades since 1975.

The report will be the second devastating scandal to rock the Church in Ireland this year, detailing abusers and their victims and outlining the response to allegations by a succession of bishops.

They include 19 senior clerics, including Cardinal Desmond Connell who last year dropped a potentially embarrassing court challenge to stop the Commission getting access to secret Church files. Seven of the bishops are dead.

In May, the so-called Ryan report detailed horrific abuse perpetrated by religious orders in state and church run institutions over several decades.

The revelations in five volumes detailed shocking physical, sexual and psychological abuse meted out to thousands of youngsters, some of whom were only put into care because their families were too poor.

Pope Benedict met Ireland’s most senior clerics, Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, in the wake of the report to discuss its findings.

PA

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