By Fionnan Sheahan, Edel Kennedy and John Cooney
Monday November 23 2009
MOST clerical abusers in the Dublin archdiocese will not be named in the damning report of the expert group investigating child abuse, the Irish Independent has learned.
The report, due to be published on Thursday, has found that four Catholic archbishops of Dublin were aware of complaints of child sex abuse involving priests in the diocese.
But a desire to protect the Church meant a horrific litany of crimes was not reported to gardai, the Child Abuse Commission Report will reveal.
The majority of clerical child sex abusers will not be identified by their real names and instead will be given aliases in the report for legal reasons.
As directed by the High Court, parts of the shocking report will also be withheld to avoid jeopardising any prosecutions or ongoing investigations.
The long-awaited publication of what is now an interim report is not expected to lead to a greater number of prosecutions.
Gardai and the Director of Public Prosecutions are already largely aware of its contents and are pursuing cases against identified offenders.
“A lot of it is already under investigation or the subject of criminal charges or previous convictions,” a source told the Irish Independent.
The report found that the four archbishops of Dublin who preceded Dr Diarmuid Martin were aware of complaints against priests for sexually abusing children over 35 years.
The report leaked to the ‘Sunday Independent’ finds there was little or no concern for the welfare of children who might have come into contact with clerical abusers.
It did not find any evidence of a paedophile ring operating in Dublin, but it did find some connections between more than 40 priests in the archdiocese.
The report finds that four archbishops — John Charles McQuaid, Dermot Ryan, Kevin McNamara and Desmond Connell — who presided over the Dublin diocese from the 1960s did not reveal their knowledge of abuse to the gardai.
The commission says Cardinal Connell was shocked at the extent of the abuse but he was slow to recognise the seriousness of the situation, took bad advice from legal and medical counsel and failed to realise that clerical sex abusers could not be dealt with in secret.
The report also finds he was kind and sympathetic to some of those who complained to him, but he appeared not to grasp the suffering of victims. It says his dealings with complaints were legally acceptable, but added to the trauma and grief of abused children.
Victims and support groups last night expressed their shock at the leaked findings.
One in Four director Maeve Lewis said the public was unlikely to be surprised by the cover up. But she said some may be surprised to read that members of the gardai often dismissed abuse claims.
Andrew Madden, who was abused by Fr Ivan Payne, last night warned that what was happening in the Dublin diocese could also be occurring across the country.
Dr Martin reacted angrily to the leaking of the report last night. He called for sensitivity to be shown to victims while they waited for its release.
In a statement, Dr Martin said he had constantly stressed the report, based on a representative sample of 46 priests from 1975 to mid-2004, had “its own particular unity and integrity”.
“The High Court has given detailed directions, in recent days, on its publication and it is hoped it will be published without delay,” Dr Martin added.
“It is regrettable that several months after the completion of the report, selected sections of it, or a draft thereof, have been published. However, all involved should be mindful of those most in need of help.”
The report of the commission set up in 2006 under the chair of Circuit Court Judge Yvonne Murphy will map out what happened in the Dublin Archdiocese and the response of the health services and gardai.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern will bring the report to Cabinet tomorrow for final approval for publication.
The minister’s department will today finalise its work on the edited version of the report. The High Court signed off on the sections to be redacted last Friday.
Fine Gael spokesman on children Alan Shatter called for the immediate publication of the report.
“The report’s release to the media should not be given a priority over its availability to victims of clerical abuse or the availability to them of support services.”
– Fionnan Sheahan, Edel Kennedy and John Cooney