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Clerical Sexual Abuse Revelations Implicate Gardai

The Murphy Report was published in 2009, following an investigation into child sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin.  At the time of its publication, certain material was held back for legal reasons.  The redacted Chapter 19 was published in December 2010, and now Chapter 20 has been released and it paints a horrifying picture.  The archbishops of Dublin were not only aware that their priests were raping children but, despite the impression they sought to create in subsequent years, were also fully aware that the activities of those priests were criminal in nature.

bishops murphy report

They failed to report the crimes to our national police force, but perhaps there was no point, since the report accuses that police force of connivance, of stifling complaints and failing to investigate others.  It describes the decision by the Gardai to permit an abuser to leave the country as shocking.  Crucially, it points out that, but for  information uncovered in diocesan files, it would not have been aware of the Garda role in covering up the crimes of child sex abuse.  In other words, our national police force failed to cooperate with the investigation of a monumental crime.  This failure is not something that happened in the distant past.  Within the last decade, senior gardai were conniving to frustrate an official investigation into the activities of sex-abusing clerics and it’s highly likely that many of these people are still in office.

Coming in a week when we learn that a member of our parliament wrote to a bishop before voting on a government bill, this is highly disturbing.   To what extent does this official deference still survive?

Chapter 20 of the Murphy Report concerns Patrick McCabe, a priest of the Dublin archdiocese and serial sex abuser.  It involves two archbishops and a cardinal, all of whom knew what this man was capable of, and all of whom were more concerned to protect their institution than the children the abuser preyed upon.  They all concealed his activities and even facilitated him by assigning him to posts in the community without alerting anyone to his true nature.

This case also involves collusion by our national police force to protect a known child abuser.  It involves officers who were until recently at an extremely high level in the organisation and perhaps even some who might still be in place.  By their lax, dilatory and downright negligent approach, they permitted the abuse to continue far longer than it might otherwise have done.

Beginning.  Archbishop Dermot Ryan seemed to be a major break from the oppressive reign of his predecessor, the tyrannical John Charles McQuaid.  Ryan, a former professor of Oriental Languages in UCD had himself been silenced by McQuaid for espousing liberation theology, but it seems his concept of liberation was confined to the peasants of Central America and to the rapists he protected.  As the report remarks of Ryan,  it seems that the welfare of children simply did not play any part in his decisions.


Unless of course those children happened to be unborn, in which case his concern for their welfare was boundless.  Ryan was an outspoken proponent of the disastrously ill-conceived  8th Amendment to the Constitution in 1983, which led us through thirty years of wrangling until this week when some sort of legislation was finally passed to acknowledge the X Case.

As for born children, well, the good professor archbishop seems to have cared not a jot.  Priests buggering little boys did not constitute a problem for Archbishop Ryan.

In January 1977, a 14-year-old boy, James  Moran,  complained to the Archdiocese about a sexual assault by a priest, Patrick McCabe who called to a boarding school and introduced himself as a friend of the boy’s mother, with whom he had a vague, passing acquaintance.  He then assaulted the boy in his car for over an hour, and when the boy complained to the headmaster, he was again sexually assaulted.  The headmaster was later convicted of multiple instances of sexual abuse.

Coincidentally, McCabe’s brother, Phelim, was also a priest and had been a classmate of Dermot Ryan’s in Clonliffe College.  Two men have subsequently lodged formal complaints about sexual assault prior to this attack.

McCabe had a well-organised modus operandi.  He always secured his own accommodation, he always set up some kind of oratory where could hold prayer meetings and he always tried to get control of the altar boys.

The school reported the complaint to the church authorities, who sent a priest, Canon Ardle McMahon, to investigate.  It seems he believed the boy, but found the incident regrettable rather than criminal.  Nothing in his report suggests that the police should be involved or alerted.

When interviewed,  McCabe cast himself as the innocent, taken aback by the aggressive sexual advances of the child.  He was so shocked, he claimed, that he sought the help of a psychiatrist

Canon McMahon describes the attack as unbalanced emotionalism and later describes the victim’s claims as the evidence of one witness against the only other witness.

That was the end of it.  Dermot Ryan never followed up on McCabe’s activities and the psychiatrist was never identified.

Further complaints.  In 1978, another complaint against McCabe appeared, and this time the church representative was auxiliary bishop James Kavanagh.

There was no investigation.  Kavanagh didn’t interview McCabe and submitted no report apart from the boy’s account with a one-line note to his boss, Ryan: I presume we can have a word about this sometime.

Nothing more was done about the complaint.  Later, former child-victims who attended parties at the home of  of another notorious clerical abuser, Bill Carney,  reported that Kavanagh attended the same parties.

Meanwhile, in 1977, a woman had called Dr Maurice Reidy, a former staff member at Clonliffe, and told him that a priest had assaulted her six-year-old son.

This is a verbatim quote from the report.

Dr Reidy’s explanation for his failure to do anything about the complaint at the time he received it was that he had reservations about the woman’s capability as a witness.  She was, in his estimation, nervous, highly-strung and very innocent of sexual matters for a married woman.

History doesn’t record how Reidy, a celibate priest, would possess a deep and thorough knowledge of sexual matters, but comically, for those who enjoy black humour, Maurice Reidy specialised in teaching moral theology.

Reidy advised the woman not to let the priest into the house again, apparently unaware of the immorality, not to mention the illegality, of raping the child the first time, and when he received no further complaints, he assumed the matter was at an end.

He was wrong.  The reason he heard no more about it was because nobody in their right mind would go back to a man like him.  The nervous, highly-strung, silly woman continued to tell people about McCabe’s continuing abuse but it wasn’t until a female cleaner found the priest lying on top of the child that the diocese decided to send in their ace investigator, Canon McMahon who chose not to interview the victim, the child’s mother or the woman who had seen the abuse.  He did, however, interview Maurice Reidy and came to the conclusion that McCabe was indeed a child abuser, though he didn’t quite put it in those terms.

The clerics, to  a man, seem to have concluded that the problem was McCabe’s, and not his victim’s.  There is no hint of support for the children or their families.

McMahon’s report to Dermot Ryan suggests that McCabe be asked to consult a psychiatrist.  This is happening in 1978, not 1878, and yet there is no mention of police action.  In 1979, after seeing the psychiatrist with inconclusive results, McCabe was appointed as a curate in Artane.  Archbishop Ryan’s memo in 1981 is revealing: he reminded McCabe of  the seriousness of his actions and the risk that he ran of imprisonment, quite apart from the scandal that had arisen and the even more public scandal that could arise in the future.

There’s nothing ambiguous about this.  It means that the archbishop of Dublin, in 1981, and his staff, were well aware that Patrick McCabe was committing crimes.  Yet they did nothing to prevent him from committing further crimes, nor did they alert the civil authorities.  It also means that the bishop’s principal concern was to avoid embarrassment for his organisation.

From July 1979 to March 1981, while McCabe was in Artane, he abused at least eight boys.  Victims and their families complained to the archdiocese during that time but the archbishop did nothing until finally, in 1981, a boy’s parents complained to the Gardai.  Oddly, no records on this have been found, either in Garda files or in the diocesan correspondence, but it did lead to one definitive result.  Bishop Kavanagh called in person to the parents and persuaded them, by whatever means, not to proceed.  As a result, the complaint was killed.  The police did nothing further.

Treatment. The bishop was rattled and finally sent McCabe to receive treatment in a Catholic centre in Britain.  True  to form, the abuser hoodwinked them and was sent home with a reasonably positive recommendation as a result of which Ryan reappointed the abuser as a curate in the parish of Clogher Road.  No supervision was put in place and it wasn’t long before McCabe began to abuse again.  Finally, Ryan revoked his authority to minister as a priest.

You might imagine that the police were notified on the spot, but that’s not what happened.  Instead, the decided to send him to New Mexico for further treatment, which the abuser vigorously opposed until eventually he was forced to go by his brother, Dermot Ryan’s close friend, who accompanied him on the plane.

They saw through him in New Mexico, and insisted that he undergo re-evaluation and further workshops, but he was allowed to go home for Christmas 1982 and immediately abused again.  Ryan consulted Monsignor Gerard Sheehy, the man who consistently advised the bishops never to inform the Gardai of clerical sexual abuse and true to form, Sheehy wrote as follows:

Whatever the immediate action … it must not be suspension.  Suspension would bring you straight into the realm of penal law with all its implications of crime and culpability.

There you go.  They knew precisely what they were dealing with.

There’s a year’s gap, but by January 1983, McCabe was back in New Mexico and now acknowledged by all to be a paedophile.  He agreed to undergo drug treatment to reduce his libido, otherwise known as chemical castration.  Ironically, the drug, Depo-Provera, was a female contraceptive actively opposed by the Church authorities, none more vigorously than Dermot Ryan.  It wasn’t until two years later that an Irish government would finally lift the absurd ban on the sale of condoms without prescription.

By mid-1983, McCabe was back in Dublin, staying with his brother Phelim but Archbishop Ryan was far from happy.  If McCabe was going to bugger little boys, it wouldn’t be on his patch, so he began to put out feelers, so to speak.  He phoned Bishop Hurley of Santa Rosa, California, and hastily arranged McCabe’s return to the States.  Unfortunately, McCabe immediately began abusing children in California.

Ryan died in 1985, and McCabe became a problem for his successor, Kevin Mcnamara, another outspoken opponent of abortion, contraception and divorce.  McNamara died after three years in office, but he still had to deal with McCabe, despite his illness.  He indicated that McCabe would not be welcome back in Dublin, but might perhaps get another appointment in the US.

That didn’t happen.  Nobody wanted the abuser in the States, so he came home in 1986.  There was no supervision, and he even lived in a house owned by a Chief Superintendent of the Gardai, Joe McGovern.

Garda collusion.  The abuse went on.  McCabe picked up work here and there standing in for priests who had to be away from their parishes and he continued to attack children including, in August 1986, a nine-year-old boy whose parents brought the child to the sexual assault unit at the Rotunda hospital in Dublin.  They then went to  the Gardai.  In the words of the report the initial Garda reaction was exemplary, but the conduct of the investigation soon deteriorated.  A retired Garda sergeant accompanied McCabe to the station and the investigating Gardai took no notes of the interview.  Later, McCabe visited Chief Supt McGovern and made certain admissions.  McGovern didn’t pass these admissions to the investigators, but did contact a priest called Curley about them.  McGovern — a very senior policeman — told the Commission that he considered McCabe’s behaviour to be a matter for the church rather than the civil authorities.

The Commission is scathing in its report.

The following day, the Archdiocese, having been notified of the investigation by the chief superintendent, got involved in the matter.  The detective garda handling the investigation contacted an official in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) seeking advice.  The investigation stopped.  No further inquiries were made by the Gardai.

Just ponder that for a moment before we go on.  A senior officer is aware that sexual assaults have taken place.  Instead of informing his colleagues, he tells a priest and then the investigation is halted at the very highest level.  The guards didn’t interview third-party witnesses or the boy’s father.  They knew McCabe was planning to go back to the US but didn’t apply for an arrest warrant.  The investigating garda explained this by claiming that he didn’t want the boy to be exposed in the community as a victim of abuse

The Commission does not find this explanation convincing, plausible or acceptable.

In other words, we don’t believe you.

Now it gets murky.  There are conflicting accounts of what happened next, but this is the version the Commission prefers.

The priest Curley went to see another superintendent in a garda station and was given the boy’s statement to read.  After that meeting, Curley and a Bishop Williams decided that he should meet the boy’s parents, unofficially, in a Garda station, which was facilitated by the Gardai.  The Commission is satisfied that the Gardai provided the church authorities with a copy of the boy’s statement.  Later, when yet another complaint was pending, a Garda told McCabe that he was out of the woods because the warrant had expired, when in reality there had been no warrant at all.

The Commission concludes that this investigation was marred by church interference, facilitated by the Gardai, which allowed the abuser to evade justice.

In March 1987, the diocese took out an insurance policy with Church & General to cover claims of clerical abuse, despite the fact that a decade or more later, the Catholic bishops were still claiming not to understand the nature of the problem, saintly celibate men that they were.

McCabe was soon off to America again and applying for a hospital chaplaincy course.  Not a suitable line of work for a persistent paedophile, you might think, but the Dublin diocese duly sprang for the tuition fees, though in the end, he never enrolled, due to the resistance of the local bishops.  However, by bluff and bluster, he did manage to trigger their pre-programmed responses yet again.  Just like the Irish bishops, the Americans seem to be far more concerned with protecting their organisation that with protecting McCabe’s victims.

Now it turns very ugly.

Blackmail charges  In 1987, James Moran, now a young man in his mid-twenties, approaches Stenson, looking for compensation.  He threatens to go public and take legal action.

So far, so good.   The young man is clearly angry and hurt, but then he goes to his former school in Kildare where he meets the current headmaster and demands compensation under threat of media exposure  for the damage done by McCabe and also by the former headmaster, also a convicted abuser.

What happens?

The priest-headmaster complains the young man to the Gardai and alleges blackmail.  The Gardai launch an exhaustive and comprehensive investigation, not of the sexual abuse but of the victim.  They tap his phone and make comments about him and his antecedents which in the Commission’s view are scurrilous.  They send a file to the DPP with a strong recommendation that the young man be prosecuted for blackmail.

Only when the DPP refuses to proceed do the Gardai finally begin to investigate the original abuse case, but even then, they do it shabbily, haphazardly and in time-honoured ramshackle Garda fashion.  This is not an investigation on principle, but simply because the top brass are embarrassed and want it buried as fast as possible.

The investigating Garda takes a statement from Moran.  Other Gardai interview the headmaster alleged to have committed the second assault (and later convicted of multiple offences), they interview Stenson but by then, McCabe is laicised and out of the clergy.

It comes to nothing, but a young man is further traumatised by an aggressive investigation and an official attempt to destroy his good name.

Yet again, the Irish State is not looking good.

Meanwhile, in America, McCabe was lying as usual. He wasn’t on the course he agreed to join and the course director, a nun, was suspicious.  While the Irish bishops dithered, the Sacramento church authorities kicked him off the course and told him to go home.  Somehow, incredibly, McCabe managed to obtain a favourable psychology report and eventually in May 1987 he secured work as a priest in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

According to the Commission, Stenson spoke by phone to an official from the Sacramento diocese, concerning McCabe’s activities during May 1987.   His notes include this stark statement:

Urgent to get him out of the USA — to anywhere.

They brought him home and sent him for more treatment in England, although by now, nobody thought he could be cured.  They wanted rid of him and they sent the laicisation papers to Rome at the end of 1987 but he still came back to Ireland and managed to get a job working with young  people — a short-lived post after Stenson rang the new employers to advise them of McCabe’s tendencies.

It still didn’t stop.  In 1988 he abused another child in a school whose headmaster was later convicted of sexual abuse, yet still, the bishops were calling psychiatrists and not police.

And then the case takes a final twist.

Stockton  McCabe obtained a job in Stockton California, working with homeless people.  In order to salve their consciences, the Irish bishops made a cursory check to make sure that there were no children involved and once they were satisfied of that, they took no further action.  The people of Stockton were about to receive a predatory paedophile into their midst and the Irish bishops, including the newly-appointed Desmond Connell, were not about to warn them.  McCabe was laicised in March 1988 and as far as the bishops were concerned, that was the end of their responsibility.

Around that time, a Garda inspector called to Stenson looking for McCabe, and when he was informed that the wanted man was now out of the country, he replied they’ll hardly send me to America for him.

According to Stenson’s notes, the Guards are aware that should the matter surface in the Sunday World in two or three years time, it is important for them to have covered their tracks.  Hence the present inquiry.

The question is, whose tracks were being covered?

It’s hardly surprising that the Commission wearily comments on McCabe’s various visits to Dublin in later years

 … given the Garda approach to the matter in 1988, the Commission is not convinced that any notification would have been acted upon.

In October 1995, a priest of the archdiocese informed the archbishop that McCabe would be in the country for ten days.  Desmond Connell did not inform the Gardai.  In November, when the archdiocese provided the Gardai with a list of priests against whom complaints had been received, in an outstanding instance of the now notorious mental reservation, they omitted McCabe because he was no longer a priest.

In June 1998 McCabe again returned to Dublin.  The archdiocese was aware of it and failed to notify the Gardai.  (McCabe was arrested in the USA in August 2010 and extradited to Ireland in June 2011.  He was jailed for 18 months and released in March this year, taking account of the time he had already spent in custody.  He is now 77 years old).

Summary.  The Commission pulls no punches in its conclusions of this case.  It’s enough to quote three examples illustrating the outrage of the author.

  • This case encapsulates everything that was wrong with the archdiocesan handling of child sex abuse cases.
  • It seems the welfare of children simply did not play any part in [Archbishop Ryan’s] decisions.
  • The connivance by the Gardai in effectively stifling one complaint and failing to investigate another, and in allowing Fr McCabe to leave the country is shocking.

Our country is undergoing a period of intense self-examination.  While we’re still receptive to this sort of scrutiny, we need to examine closely the implications of the redacted Murphy Commission findings, not only for the relationship between church and state, but also for the nature of our police force.



Redacted Chapter 20 Murphy Report

All posts on the Murphy Report

James Moran


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Mary Raftery, Journalist, Dies

Mary Raftery, investigative journalist, has died at 54.

Raftery’s States of Fear documentaries exposed the violence, both emotional and physical, as well as the sexual abuse inflicted on children in the industrial schools and residential institutions of this country.  They forced a reluctant justice minister, Michael McDowell,  to set up the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse which produced the horrific Ryan Report cataloguing widespread and systematic abuse of children by members of religious orders.   Following publication of the report, which some orders resisted to the last, the Residential Institutions Redress Board was set up, with all its flaws and inequities.

Raftery’s Prime Time report in 2002, titled Cardinal Secrets, exposed the extent of sexual abuse in the Dublin archdiocese and led to the creation of the Murphy Commission of Investigation, which  exposed further clerical horrors and shook the Irish Catholic church to its roots, leading the Irish government to issue an unprecedented condemnation of the Vatican’s role in protecting clerical rapists .

Her sense of justice wasn’t confined to clerics.  The documentary Behind the Walls, broadcast last September, investigated the practice of imprisoning Irish citizens in mental institutions, without trial, on the say-so of a doctor.  People who didn’t fit in, who were awkward, who were too outspoken or who might have been an obstacle to somebody inheriting a farm, were all locked away to rot in these State-run jails.  According to Raftery, there was a time when Ireland imprisoned more people per head of population  in psychiatric institutions than they did in the Soviet Union.

Despite being demonised by diehard elements of the Catholic right who believed that a woman’s role is silence, Mary Raftery continued to poke and dig at the rotten underbelly of our heartless little country.

Mary Raftery’s death is Ireland’s loss.

Religion Sexual abuse

Was Archbishop John Charles McQuaid a Paedophile?

There was a time when Planet Ireland orbited its own smug, self-satisfied star, held on course by a mysterious force known as certainty.  That was an era when Irish missionaries roamed darkest Africa, ridding the natives of their superstitions and giving them new ones.  It was a time when children on Planet Ireland were locked up in prisons run by brutal, ignorant rapists, when priests dictated to legislators what laws they might pass regulating private sexual behaviour of grown adults.  It was an era when priests and bishops could bring down an entire government with a single word, and when Prime Ministers of our little planetoid were happy to grovel on their knees before a Prince of the Church.

Nobody exemplifies this power more than John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin from 1940 to 1972.   While still president of Blackrock College, McQuaid played a huge part in drafting the 1937 constitution in much the same way as an Iranian cleric might today.  When Ayatollah McQuaid, clicked his fingers government ministers jumped.

But what’s this?  According to the Irish Times, the HSE failed to pass two sex-abuse complaints against McQuaid to the Murphy commission, which was therefore unable to investigate the allegations.

The Murphy commission accepted that the failure was due to human error, but it seems extraordinary that the HSE would not grasp the explosive significance of the documents it had in its possession.

According to the journalist, Patsy McGarry,   McQuaid was fond of a tipple and often dropped into a pub near his residence for a quick nip to steady his nerves.  On one such occasion, according to McGarry, the landlord’s child came running down the stairs, crying and saying that McQuaid had done something to him.  The Archbishop was immediately ejected from the premises.

A Prince of the Church

Nothing would surprise me about the institution McQuaid represented.  In 1960, according to the commission report, McQuaid was contacted by Garda Commissioner Costigan about obscene photographs of young girls in Crumlin children’s hospital, taken by one of his priests, Paul McGennis when he was chaplain there.  Costigan had been contacted by Scotland Yard after a security officer at a British film-processing laboratory intercepted the film and informed the police.  However, instead of investigating a crime, Costigan chose to abdicate his responsibility and pass the matter to McQuaid.  The archbishop did nothing, and McGennis went on to abuse children for a further forty years.  It says much about the power wielded by these men that not even the Garda Commissioner had the courage to stand up to them.

Perhaps now we understand more clearly why McQuaid, a notoriously severe man, was so lenient with a child abuser.

Perhaps they shared more in common than just a dog collar.

Planet Ireland’s orbit has been waning for some time.  I wonder if the McQuaid story will be the one that finally cuts the gravitational umbilical cord and sends our little planetoid spinning into the void until captured by a different star?


Health warning: unfortunately, the Wikipedia article on McQuaid is contaminated by the involvement of an active apologist for clerical abusers, who claims to have created most of it.  It’s not a reliable source.


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The IF-Word. Bishop John Magee Still in Denial About Cloyne Abuse

You have to love those bishops with their mental reservation.  They never go anywhere without a spare IF or BUT in their trouser pocket just in case they find themselves face to face with embarrassing facts that need to be blurred, and John Magee is no exception.  We’d expect no less from a former Vatican insider, even if the Vatican did elbow him out fairly sharply in the end.

This is the bishop who lied to the government, lied to the HSE and wrote a report on an abuse case that deliberately concealed material facts about an abuser.

On Planet Magee, all that deceit amounts to nothing more than a failure to fully implement child-protection guidelines.  Today he issued a statement about the Cloyne sexual abuse report — a statement full of evasions and avoidances, apparently written by a public-relations firm.  In particular, Magee betrays his complete detachment from the reality of the Cloyne scandal by his use of the word failure

This is absolute dishonesty.  Failure is an honourable thing if it follows sincere effort, but Magee made no such effort.  He couldn’t have failed because he never tried.  The Commission report found that he actively lied, deceived and covered up material facts. He did little or nothing to investigate allegations of child abuse, and he appointed a man to deal with victims who believed that church law was superior to the law of the land.

This wasn’t a failure.  This was a self-styled prince of the church, placing the welfare of his organisation above the needs of rape victims, and thumbing his nose at Irish civil authority.

To compound the insult, Magee made a public statement in which he said that if his actions had caused hurt, he begged forgiveness from the victims.


Was there some doubt?  If so, it existed only in the minds of people like John Magee and his Canon-Law sidekick, O Callaghan.

As I often said before, these are the people who still control our primary schools.  This is the mindset of the people who can fire a teacher on a whim.


Previously: Magee Apologises

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Enda Kenny’s Speech Criticising Vatican

Toiseach Enda Kenny today delivered a speech in the Dáil, in which he accused the Vatican of attempting to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic, of dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism, of downplaying the rape and torture of children  to uphold the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation.

Last week, we heard a son of Papal Knight, Oliver J Flanagan, calling for the expulsion of the  Apostolic Nuncio, and now Kenny’s speech.  This is  extraordinary stuff to hear expressed by an Irish prime minister in the Irish national parliament.

Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict’s ‘ear of the heart‘, said Kenny, the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.

… this is not Rome, Kenny says.  Nor is it industrial-school or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish-Catholic world.  This is the ‘Republic’ of Ireland 2011, a Republic of laws, of rights and responsibilities, of proper civic order where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version of a particular kind of ‘morality’ will no longer be tolerated or ignored.

And again :

through our legislation, through our Government’s action to put Children First., those who have been abused can take some small comfort in knowing that they belong to a nation, to a democracy where humanity, power, rights, responsibility are enshrined and enacted, always….always…. for their good.

Where the law – their law – as citizens of this country, will always supercede canon laws that have neither legitimacy nor place in the affairs of this country.

And finally : the standards of conduct which the Church deems appropriate to itself, cannot and will not, be applied to the workings of democracy and civil society in this republic.

I have to tell you, I never truly believed I’d live to see this day.  I begin to hope that, through its arrogance, the Vatican has finally overplayed its hand and the power of Rome in Ireland may finally be broken.

Could it be true that these unhappy, sexually repressed old men will at long last be challenged properly in this democracy?

For generations, this country has been dictated to by a cadre of depressive geriatric alcoholics who sought to lay down the law on everything from women’s health and people’s private marital arrangements even to the point of telling us what books we may read.  Imagine a small bunch of dysfunctional, celibate men who have never in their entire lives experienced human warmth dictating to an entire nation of grown men and women. The agents of this foreign state, the Vatican, downplayed the rape of children, and yet its agents stil control more than nine in ten of our schools.

If the State has finally escaped from its Catholic Year Zero, the time has come to remove these people from control of our children.

Don’t ask them to go.  Tell them they’re gone.

Do it now.  Cut them out and let Ireland begin to recover from 150 years of clericalism.

Let’s get it over with.



This is the full text of the speech:

I move the motion.

The revelations of the Cloyne report have brought the Government, Irish  Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture.

It’s fair to say that after the Ryan and Murphy Reports Ireland is, perhaps, unshockable when it comes to the abuse of children.

But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order.

Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic…as little as three years ago, not three decades ago.

And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism….the narcissism …….that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.

The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’.

Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict’s “ear of the heart”……the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.

This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded.

The radicalism, humility and compassion which are the very essence of its foundation and purpose.

The behaviour being a case of Roma locuta est: causa finita est.

Except in this instance, nothing could be further from the truth.

Cloyne’s revelations are heart-breaking. It describes how many victims continued to live in the small towns and parishes in which they were reared and in which they were abused… Their abuser often still in the area and still held in high regard by their families and the community. The abusers continued to officiate at family weddings and funerals… In one case, the abuser even officiated at the victim’s own wedding…

There is little I or anyone else in this House can say to comfort that victim or others, however much we want to. But we can and do recognise the bravery of all of the victims who told their stories to the Commission.

While it will take a long time for Cloyne to recover from the horrors uncovered, it could take the victims and their families a lifetime to pick up the pieces of their shattered existence.

Papal Nuncio
A day post-publication, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade met with the Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza.

The Tánaiste left the Archbishop clear on two things: The gravity of the actions and attitude of the Holy See. And Ireland’s complete rejection and abhorrence of same.

The Papal Nuncio undertook to present the Cloyne Report to the Vatican.

The Government awaits the considered response of the Holy See.

I believe that the Irish people, including the very many faithful Catholics who – like me – have been shocked and dismayed by the repeated failings of Church authorities to face up to what is required, deserve and require confirmation from the Vatican that they do accept, endorse and require compliance by all Church authorities here with, the obligations to report all cases of suspected abuse, whether current or historical, to the
State’s authorities in line with the Children First National Guidance which will have the force of law.

Clericalism has rendered some of Ireland’s brightest, most privileged and powerful men, either unwilling or unable to address the horrors cited in the Ryan and Murphy Reports. This Roman Clericalism must be devastating for good priests…. some of them old… others struggling to keep their humanity….even their sanity…… they work so hard… be the keepers of the Church’s light and goodness within their parishes…… communities… the human

Church & State
But thankfully for them, and for us, this is not Rome. Nor is it industrial-school or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish-Catholic world.
This is the ‘Republic’ of Ireland 2011.

A Republic of laws…..of rights and responsibilities….of proper civic order….. where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version….. of a particular kind of ‘morality’….. will no longer be tolerated or ignored.

As a practising Catholic, I don’t say any of this easily. Growing up, many of us in here learned we were part of a pilgrim Church.

Today, that Church needs to be a penitent Church. A church, truly and deeply penitent for the horrors it perpetrated, hid and denied.

In the name of God. But for the good of the institution.

When I say that through our legislation….. through our Government’s action to put Children First…….those who have been abused can take some small comfort in knowing that they belong to a nation… a democracy where humanity, power, rights, responsibility, are enshrined and enacted …..always….always…. for their good.

Where the law – their law – as citizens of this country, will always supercede canon laws that have neither legitimacy nor place in the affairs of this country.

This report tells us a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children. If we do not respond swiftly and appropriately as a State, we will have to prepare ourselves for more reports like this.

I agree with Archbishop Martin that the Church needs to publish any other and all other reports like this as soon as possible.

I must note the Commission is very positive about the work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children, established by the Church to oversee the operation by Dioceses and religious orders. The Commission notes that
all Church authorities were required to sign a contract with the National Board agreeing to implement the relevant standards and that those refusing to sign would be named in the Board’s Annual Report. Progress has been in no small measure to the commitment of Ian Elliott and others.

There is some small comfort to be drawn by the people of Cloyne from the fact that the Commission is complimentary of the efforts made by the Diocese since 2008, in training, in vetting personnel and in the risk
management of Priests against whom allegations have been made. Nevertheless, the behaviour of Bishop Magee and Monsignor O’Callaghan show how fragile even good standards and policies are to the weakness and willful disregard of those who fail to give the right priority to safeguarding our children.

But if the Vatican needs to get its house in order, so does this State.

The Report of the Commission is rightly critical of the entirely unsatisfactory position which the last Government allowed to persist over many years. The unseemly bickering between the Minister for Children and the HSE over the statutory powers to deal with extra-familial abuse, the failure to produce legislation to enable the exchange of soft information as promised after the Ferns Enquiry, and the long period of confusion and disjointed responsibility for child protection within the HSE, as reported by the Commission, are simply not acceptable in a society which values
children and their safety.

For too long Ireland has neglected its children.

Just last week we saw a case of the torture of children, within the family, come before the courts. Just two days ago, we were repulsed by the case of a Donegal registered sex offender…and school caretaker…

Children and young adults reduced to human wreckage. Raising questions and issues of serious import for State agencies.

We are set to embark on a course of action to ensure the State is doing all it can to safeguard our children.

Minister Shatter is bringing forward two pieces of legislation – firstly, to make it an offence to withhold information relating to crimes against children and vulnerable adults; and secondly, at long last, to allow for the exchange of ‘soft information’ on abusers.

As Taoiseach, I want to do all I can to protect the sacred space of childhood and to restore its innocence.

Especially our young teenagers, whom I believe to be children. Because regardless of our current economic crisis, the children of this country are, and always will be, our most precious possession of all.

Safeguarding their integrity and innocence must be a national priority. This is why I undertook to create a Cabinet ministry for Children and Youth Affairs.

The legislation ‘Children First’ proposes to give our children maximum protection and security without intruding on the hectic, magical business of being a child.

Cardinal Josef Ratzinger said “Standards of conduct appropriate to civil society or the workings of a democracy cannot be purely and simply applied to the Church.”

As the Holy See prepares its considered response to the Cloyne Report, I want to make it clear as Taoiseach that when it comes to the protection of the children of this State, the standards of conduct which the Church deems appropriate to itself, cannot and will not, be applied to the workings of democracy and civil society in this republic.

Not purely, or simply or otherwise, because children have to be and will be put first.




Report by Commission of Investigation into Catholic Diocese of Cloyne

The Cloyne diocese report has been issued and a download is available here.

Among other findings, the commission found that

The Vatican showed no interest in helping to set up systems for protecting children from abusive clerics.

John Magee, the bishop at the time, failed to operate the agreed child-protection measures and showed no interest in dealing with complaints of sexual abuse.  He lied to the minister for children and the HSE about complying with his church’s own guidelines.

The diocese chose not to report certain complaints to the Gardai, even though it was obvious that they were police matters.

Magee deliberately hid the real facts about child abuse cases and failed to confront child abuse until he was forced to do so.

The diocese knew about sexual abuse and its consequences but still failed to provide support for people making complaints.


The Cloyne report underlines what all previous investigations have said.  When it came to sexual abuse of children, the Irish state was happy to place power in the hands of the abusers.

Instead of imposing law-driven rules on priests the same as any other human being, Ireland accepted guidelines, framework documents, assurances and voluntary commitments.

It still does.

In this country, control of our primary schools is for the most part in the hands of the people who protected paedophiles.  If the head of a primary school opposes a priest, he or she risks not being paid, even when that priest is a predatory child-abuser demanding that children be delivered to him for rape.

You think  I made that up?  I did not.  It happened and is documented in Judge Yvonne Murphy’s report on child abuse in the diocese of Cloyne, which covers all of Cork except the city.

John Magee, bishop of Cloyne, lied to the health service, lied to the government and personally behaved inappropriately to a teenager during the investigation.  A priest appointed by Magee as chairman of a school’s board of management threatened a school principal with loss of salary  if she didn’t supply him with children to abuse.

This didn’t happen 100 years ago.  This happened in the last few years.

Magee himself abdicated responsibility for child protection, handing this function to a character by the name of O’Callaghan, a canon lawyer, whose main concern was protection of the church.  These guys truly believed that the law of the land was secondary to the law of Rome, but this wasn’t in the dark ages.  This was only a few years ago, in the new millennium.

O’Callaghan was a professor of moral theology in Maynooth prior to his appointment in Cloyne and may well have regarded his role as one of confusing the police and everyone else he regaarded as his intellectual inferior.  This is a characteristic common among these frustrated celibate old men whose only pastime is to play games with the authorities.

The bishop prepared two reports on a  particular case — one that went to Rome detailing full details os a sex abuse case, and another for local consumption, with the true facts omitted, in case somebody might discover it.

It’s over.  It’s time our government removed any semblance of authority from these dysfunctional old witch-doctors.  They have no qualifications to be in control of our schools and it’s time we removed these people from control of our children.  They are not to be trusted.


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The Magdalene Laundries Scandal

As usual, it has taken outside pressure to force acknowledgement of the imprisonment, torture and degradation inflicted on Irish women by this State and by the nuns who carried out the abuse.  The United Nations Committee Against Torture has published a report condemning Ireland for a crime.   Women who had children outside of marriage, or who might simply have been perceived as having a bright, cheerful spirit, were abducted by State agents and imprisoned for ever more.

The disgracefully-misnamed Magdalene laundries broke the spirit of thousands of women, enslaving them for the financial gain of warped, sexually-frustrated nuns who inflicted their vindictive self-hatred on these helpless prisoners.

Ireland being what it is, the government excluded the nuns’ gulags from the terms of reference of the Ryan report, no doubt hoping that the problem would go away as the former prisoners became older and more frail, but there it still is, an indictment on the confessional nature of this State from its foundation.

Let nobody tell you that the nuns and the priests and the brothers saved the State money by imprisoning these people.

They did not.

The religious orders made a handsome profit from their prisoners, through slavery.  And if they got a little sexual kick along the way, so much the better.


We have to acknowledge that the nuns who ran these prisons were deeply disturbed individuals, but their disorder seems to be widespread, and not just among those who controlled the Magdalene laundries.   There’s a creepy commonality in the stories told by women who attended nun-run schools, of violence, vindictiveness and small-minded cruelty.

The motif of the keys is the one that stands out most strongly.  Many women, including members of my own family, and also survivors of the laundries, describe being struck on the knuckles with bunches of keys by enraged nuns.  And this punishment always seems to have been administered coldly.

What was wrong with these women that made them so cruel, so callous and so angry?

In my opinion, it isn’t natural to live your entire life without sex, and I think the experience derailed them, but maybe that’s just me being a dirty bastard.  I don’t think so, though, and neither did the old women I grew up among who used to say the same thing, in less explicit terms.

I think these nuns, and all the other hated torturers in the schools and the laundries were so cruel because they were completely screwed up by being who and what they were.  And I think they took it out on the poor unfortunates who fell into their insane grip.

The sooner the crime of the Magdalene laundries is exposed, the better.  There are still nuns out there, walking around, who tortured, beat, enslaved and humiliated other women in the name of Christianity.  They should be held accountable now.

We have to exorcise all the ghosts haunting modern Ireland, until we finally acknowledge the disgrace that happened after independence, where absolute power was handed over to one church.

Until we do that, Ireland will never achieve maturity as a nation.


Previously : The Magdalene Laundries

All Bock posts on the Ryan Report

All Bock posts on the Murphy Report

Ryan Commission report

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Abuse Survivors Refused Entry To Diarmuid Martin’s Service of Repentance in Pro-Cathedral

This is the moment when a disabled abuse survivor and the daughter of a woman imprisoned in the Magdalene laundries were refused admission to a Catholic church by stewards and a policeman.  The woman wanted to hand a letter of protest to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who was holding a service of “lament and repentance” for the failures of the Catholic church to protect abuse victims.

Paddy Doyle recounted the incident as follows:

The lady in the picture describes herself as the daughter of a “Magdalene Woman” and wanted to deliver a letter to Bishop O’Malley.  I offered to help out but once I did that the police and the  stewards at the Pro Cathedral refused to allow either me or the lady into the church.


Liturgy of Lament and Repentance — Bishops To Wash the Feet of Sexual Abuse Victims

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Cardinal Sean O’Malley from Boston, are saying some prayers today, asking forgiveness for the way their church treated victims of clerical sexual abuse.  They call it a Liturgy of Lament and Repentance (as opposed to an ordinary, uncapitalised liturgy of lament and repentance) and during it, the princes of the church will wash the feet of a group of people who suffered in various ways through abuse.  This is a symbol of apology.

Diarmuid Martin is a decent fellow and I have no doubt he’s sincere in what he says, but would it not have been more appropriate to drag along a few of his fellow bishops to do the foot-washing?  After all, they’ve been pretty good at washing their hands of this filthy business for years now, so perhaps a few feet might make a welcome change.  Indeed, if anyone needs to be cleansed, it isn’t the victims, surely, but the perpetrators and those who failed to stop them.  People like Bishop Eamon Walsh, who stood up at a meeting and suggested telling the police about a notorious priest-rapist, but promptly sat back down again when he was told by a grumpy old Monsignor to shut his mouth.

In his own words:

I wasn’t a month in the job as a bishop, and I stood up at a meeting and I said that not alone should the police, who were already informed about an individual, but we should say where he was living and the number of his car, because I felt he was a danger.

Somebody give that man a medal.

Monsignor Sheehy’s views on the matter speak volumes:

I think it  important that every one of us should at this stage avoid any excessive reaction – no matter what the civil law may say.

Note: No matter what the civil law may say.

Another candidate for dragging forcibly in front of the outraged victims might be Cardinal Seán Brady, who interrogated victims of abuse, swore them to secrecy and, after much reflection, found himself innocent of wrongdoing.  Or what about his predecessor, Des Connell, who fought tooth and nail to prevent diocesan documents being given to the Murphy inquiry and to obstruct its workings?

Maybe both of these guys might benefit from being down on their knees begging forgiveness.

What do you think?

Or even Ratzinger himself, who tried to justify clerical sexual abuse by saying it was a long time ago.  As long back as 1975, when nobody knew anything because we were all too innocent. That was the year the Sex Pistols played their first gig, Monty Python made the Holy Grail, Gates founded Microsoft  and Springsteen released Born to Run.  Not exactly the Dark Ages.

O’Malley, who entered a seminary at  the age of 12, leads an Apostolic Visitation to Ireland to put the skids under the local gobshites who allowed this PR disaster for the church to happen.

Ratzinger is not happy.  O’Malley, Sie haben ze ridiculous Irish-priest name. Getten Sie over zu Irland, schnell and tellen Sie those  Dummkopf arschholes on their bike jumpen fukken pronto making.  Amen.

And that’s why Seán is here, bringing with him all the vast life-experience of a man who hasn’t lived in a normal family since he was twelve.

I think this foot-washing is going to be a tougher job than they thought.  How will they get around to washing the feet of all the victims, especially with the decline in the priesthood.

Do you know what would make more sense?  They could buy a couple of thousand electric foot-spas, and bless them all in one go.  Shazam!!  Suddenly you have an endless supply of fizzy holy water.  Then they could send the foot-spas out to all the churches in the land and install them in the now-defunct confessionals.  If you feel abused, just slip your tootsies into the healing bubbly waters of profound apology, and suddenly everything is all right again.

If they do it right, every time a foot is washed, the machines could send an automatic signal to a central church database so that Ratzo can scratch another name off the list of people he needs to apologise to.  They could set up a guilt repository for the bishops, like a bad bank, and each time a victim uses the Holy Spa of Repentance, the system could credit a standard unit of forgiveness to the bishop’s account.

What do you think?  Are we onto something here?



I asked one victim of abuse, Paddy Doyle, for his views on this and here’s what he replied:

I’ve just come back from the Pro Cathedral where I was part of a protest outside the place.

One lady who wanted to get into the Cathedral to hand the bishop from Boston a letter about the abuse she had suffered as a child – she was a Magdalene woman – asked me if I would go with her into the Church.  This lady was very upset and needed to just see this guy the Pope had sent over to sort out all our problems of child abuse!

Anyway, I went to the side door of the Cathedral with this lady. She was refused permission to enter the place but then so was I.  Some of what appeared to be the Archbishop’s henchmen and the Gardaí told me I would not be permitted to enter the church.  The strange thing is that when I was a child I used to be beaten into various churches to serve mass, now as an adult I’m deemed to be trouble and not allowed into the house of God!

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Murphy Commission Report — Chapter 19 Tony Walsh. Summary

I have tried to summarise chronologically the recently published chapter 19 from the Murphy Report on the serial sex-abuser priest Tony Walsh, so that it can be digested more easily.

Sometimes, as I went through the report, I was so horrified or disbelieving that I highlighted something in boldface so that I could come back to it.  For example, I was staggered at the evidence of a Garda in 1991 who, even though a priest had told him about a church inquiry into a sex abuser, was able to say that no specific complaint of sex abuse had been made.  This garda informed a priest that there was no question of a prosecution and subsequently gave evidence to a diocesan inquiry, but never tried to have the rapist arrested.

As you read through this chronology, you might find yourself astounded at the inability of the bishops and priests to recognise that they were dealing with a serious criminal.  You might be astounded at the attitude of Gerard Sheehy: to crown my depression, Bishop Walsh made the outrageous suggestion that the Archbishop should inform the civil  authorities. Monsignor Sheehy was reacting to the notion that a child-rapist might be reported to the police.

Bishop Eamon Walsh, the man who tentatively suggested reporting the rapist to the police, is a qualified barrister. He remains convinced he did nothing wrong, even though he acquiesced with a decision not to inform the civil authorities that an employee of the diocese was routinely raping children. Indeed, he claims credit:

I wasn’t a month in the job as a bishop, and I stood up at a meeting and I said that not alone should the police, who were already informed about an individual, but we should say where he was living and the number of his car, because I felt he was a danger.

In other words, this barrister, who knew that Tony Walsh was a danger to children, stood up and suggested letting the police know. When the other men at the meeting decided not to tell the police about a dangerous rapist, Bishop Eamon Walsh, a lawyer, sat down again and did no more about it.

Clearly, this bishop inhabits the same moral vacuum as his colleagues.

Sheehy was both a canon and a civil lawyer, but his contempt for the laws of the State is clear: I think it  important that every one of us should at this stage avoid any excessive reaction – no matter what the civil law may say.

At this remove, it seems astounding that anyone should think like that. No matter what the civil law might say. Is there any way of interpreting that phrase other than as a rejection of the  law of the land?

You might be stunned at the fact that, throughout this entire saga, the church authorities were primarily concerned with avoiding trouble for themselves, and at no stage displayed the slightest concern for the children Walsh had raped.  As the Commission report puts it: the welfare of children simply did  not arise for consideration.

I was most surprised by the level of trust that the parents of the priests’ victims placed in the Dublin diocese, trust which turned out to be grossly misplaced, since the diocese and its servants had not the slightest interest in protecting these people or their children from the rapists who were a part of the clerical apparatus.

It appears that everyone in the Dublin diocese knew for years that Walsh was a rapist.  All the Archbishops knew it.  All the auxiliary bishops knew it.   The diocesan administrator jknew it full well.  Many of the priests knew it.

And yet, not one of these men who took it upon themselves to tell the general population what was moral, and in particular who claimed to have great authority in matters of a sexual nature, could see any personal obligation to stop the rapist by reporting his crimes to the police.

These same men who, day in and day out were lecturing their adult parishioners about trivia such as contraception, were unable to act in the best interest of children who were being abused in a monstrous way by one of their own.

Section 1.77 of the report, which was also redacted, clearly shows that Dublin priests were operating a paedophile ring:

Fr Carney and Fr McCarthy abused children during their visits to children’s homes. They also brought children on holidays and shared accommodation with two separate complainants. A boy who was initially abused by Fr McCarthy was subsequently abused by Fr Carney.

Fr Carney abused children at swimming pools and was sometimes accompanied to swimming pools by Fr Maguire.  Altar boys trips to Clonliffe College were originally started by Bill Carney and Francis McCarthy and were taken over by Fr Walsh. There were complaints of abuse during those visits.

Before he got his own room in the presbytery in Ballyfermot, Fr Walsh used Fr Reynolds’s room in Kilmore to abuse victims. Fr Reynolds had given him a key.

That’s Carney, McCarthy, Reynolds.Maguire and Walsh, all abusing the same boys.

A paedophile ring of Dublin priests.

I think it’s important to point out one salient fact.  The Murphy Commission did not carry out a thorough investigation of every abusing priest in the Dublin archdiocese.  It took only a representative sample

After the events described in the report, Walsh was jailed again on the 6th December last for further crimes.

Reports HERE

Chapter 19    Fr Tony Walsh

1972-1978 Walsh trains for priesthood.Abuses children during training.  Has key to house of another clerical abuser, Noel Reynolds.
1978 Walsh ordained.Appointed to Ballyfermot parish.Parents of 8-year-old boy complain to priest of Walsh sexually abusing their child  in Reynolds’s house the previous month.  Priest nots “the  parents are most responsible people and there is no danger of publicity”.Monsignor Glennon accepts Walsh’s denials, and no further action is taken.
1979 Mother of a 14-year-old boy reports abuse by Walsh in Ballyfermot in 1978 and 1979 and subsequently contacts parish priest of Ballyfermot, Val Rogers.  Fr Michael Cleary, goes to the boy’s house to educate him on male sexuality.No further acion taken.In 1985, Rogers tells Stenson the incident was  “hushed up”.
1980-82 Youth coordinator  complains to Archdiocese about Walsh sexually abusing young girls.  No action taken.
1984 Donal O’Doherty becomes PP of Ballyfermot.  Receives “veiled warning” about Walsh from bishop Dermot Ryan.
1985 Monsignor Stenson interviews Seven priests aware of Walsh’s abuse.  O’Doherty describes catching Walsh abusing altar boy.Stenson dismisses reports of abuse as “ill-informed gossip”.
April 1985 Parents inform Stenson that Walsh sexually abused their daughter.Parents of 14-yr-old boy complain about Walsh making frequent visits to their son. Monsignor Stenson noted that the priest and the family “do  not know if there was anything more to it than that”.  Stenson notes: “Given the track record such behaviour was  suspicious and very imprudent”.
Stenson interviews Walsh who “denied nothing”.Walsh admits abusing boy in Ballyfermot and another boy in Wicklow.Stenson suggests seeing a psychiatrist.   Bishop MacNamara informed.Psychiatrist reports being cautiously optimistic that Walsh will respond to treatment using “the re-orientation method to channel the drive appropriately”
October 1985 Parent reports assault on young girl to O’Doherty, PP in Ballyfermot.B O’Mahony tells Stenson, who informs psychiatrist.  No further inquiries are made.Walsh moved to new parish at Westland Row.   Bishop writes, thanking him for his dedicated work in the parish.
February 1986 Walsh starts in Westland Row.Parish priest not informed that Walsh is a child abuser.
Mother of 1979 complainant contacts Stenson due to Walsh’s continued career with All-Priests Show.  He notes : “I was impressed by this woman who is  obviously a concerned person and who is distressed by what has happened  to her son  […].  I would also be of the opinion that she was not out to cause  trouble or obtain money”.Stenson asks Walsh to reconsider his involvement in  entertainment and public appearances.  Walsh continues performing.
January 1987 Housekeeper in Westland  Row finds items of her  underwear in Walsh’s room, which have been “used”.   She also finds  condoms and syringes in his room.  She reports that a number of boys had slept overnight in Walsh’s bed and a boy  from Ballyfermot had been visiting.  Monsignor Stenson notes that he has “no doubt about her truthfulness”.   When these allegations are put to him,  Walsh denies them and further says he does not know what condoms are like.
April 1988 Woman alleges to a Ballyfermot priest that Walsh had her son in the Westland Row presbytery.
May 1988 Parents complain that Walsh sexually abused their daughter.Stenson interviews Walsh and records that “for the first time he really opened up”.Walsh admits to abusing a child about once a fortnight. [Commission notes that Walsh minimised the extent of his activities.]Stenson records that Walsh is shocked to discover how much information the diocese has on file about him.  He discusses Walsh’s “difficulties” with him and promises to apologise to the parents.After meeting the parents, Stenson notes “[The father] said that he would not like  [Walsh] to suffer  because of one misdemeanour.  They pray for him and hope he can get help.  I was greatly impressed by this couple.  They were extremely kind and  concerned.  I did not indicate that there was a history of this behaviour”.

Walsh writes out an account of his “difficulties”, mentioning only instances of abuse which have resulted in complaints.  According to the Commission, it minimises the extent of the  abuse by using phrases like “sat on my lap” and “wrestled playfully on my bed  with him”.

June 1988 Walsh removed from Westland Row and sent to Stroud for treatment.
Stroud therapist reports that Walsh appears more realistic about his  situation than other similar men.A month later, another report states “[Walsh] is ‘extremely  compulsive – there have been an awful lot of children involved  he is a very  disturbed man  He is always going to be dangerous.  He could not be let near  schools, children, Confession without a grille etc…’
November 1988 Final report.  Stroud considers that Walsh had been honest.  However, that under no  circumstances should he have any apostolate involving children.  He should  also receive further counselling. He should permanently abstain from drink.Shortly  afterwards his personal therapist rings Stenson and states that Walsh was the best patient he had seen.
Walsh signs contract with diocese:• “I will not be involved in any apostolate which involves children;• I understand that under no circumstances must I make any physical  contact with a child beyond a handshake in a public place;• I will not be alone with a child;• I understand that the priests with whom I am stationed will be aware of  the general nature of my difficulty and they will have the right to  discuss any areas of anxiety about the way I am relating, especially to  children; …

• I will not visit the Ballyfermot area under any circumstances.”

Walsh appointed to assist chaplain in hospital for old people.Accommodation in Halston St.All priests in presbytery aware of his history.
1989 Walsh starts counselling with priest-psychotherapist.  Therapist believes Walsh’s statement that he never raped children.Stroud reports Walsh unhappy with contract and wishes to return to Ballyfermot.Therapist asks “how likely [was he] to repeat his actions and constitute a risk to  children and, by extension to the church”.The Archdiocese attempted to find a location which would reduce the risk to children as much as possible.
August 1989 Walsh takes child into his car and kisses him.  After complaint from parents, Walsh visits child’s home.
Regional marriage tribunal already has two known clerical sexual abusers working in it.  Suggestion is made to Monsignor Sheehy, the  judicial vicar, that he might take Walsh into the tribunal.    Sheehy declines on the basis that Fr Walsh’s limited intellectual  capacity might lead him to become frustrated.
December 1989 Psychiatrist’s report says Walsh has made no progress.
January 1990 Psychotherapist recommends appointment to post where Walsh has no involvement with children.
Diocese informed that Walsh has been visiting scouts.Walsh refused permission to tour Britain with The Holy Show.
April 1990 Archbishop Connell and Stenson offer Walsh two options: voluntary laicisation  or dismissal.Sheehy opposes dismissal and writes to bishop warning of “minefield”.  Asks bishop to keep letter from Stenson.
After one meeting, attended by Archbishop Connell, Stenson, bishops Kavanagh, O’Mahony and Murray, Sheehy notes as follows:probably the most depressing meeting that I have ever attended.      There was not a single word, from anyone, about the fact that we are dealing with a disordered person. The whole thrust was: ‘how best can  we get rid of him?’ … To crown my depression, Bishop Walsh made the outrageous suggestion that the Archbishop should inform the civil  authorities about Fr [Walsh’s] homosexual orientation.Bishop Eamonn Walsh told the Commission that his concern related to Walsh’s paedophile orientation and not his sexuality in general.
September 1990 Walsh granted a year’s leave of absence. Not allowed to practise any ministry or wear clerical clothes.  Walsh to live in a rehabilitation  centre outside Dublin.
January 1991 Walsh back in Dublin and living in Halston Street.   Stenson discovers this by chance in a  conversation with Rogers who did not  want Monsignor Stenson to tell the archbishop.
February 1991 Stenson tells Walsh that there would be no future for  him in ministry and that he should “start planning constructively for the future”.
March 1991 Scout leader and parent inform diocese that Walsh is back in Dublin.   Walsh had been seen with a  boy in his car and was calling frequently to this boy’s house.   Monsignor  Stenson made inquiries with professionals about what to do in respect of this  boy as there were concerns but no complaint or evidence of abuse.   A short  time later, the mother of this boy asked questions about Fr Walsh and she  was told by another priest that he was a danger to children.
May 1991 Walsh is sent to stay in Mellifont Abbey under supervision.
Stenson tells Walsh, that everyone is  sick and tired of him “calling the shots”.   If Walsh does not apply for laicisation, the penal process to dismiss him will be  set in train.Walsh writes to Connell:  “I don’t know very much about the kind of process Msgr Stenson  talked about, except that it seems to be some kind of enquiry board  which might listen to me, even if it might in the long run dismiss me.  So I agree to cooperate with the board or process if it will let me state my own case before it and let me have some people to explain my  side of the story and give me a fair trial”.
March 1991 Bishops decide at meeting to institute a penal  process.   They also discussed informing the Gardaí  but fail to do so.
June 1991 Stenson meets young man from Ballyfermot  who complains that he had been abused by Fr Walsh in 1980/1981 when he  was about 12.  This complainant tells Stenson that Walsh had started to  frequent Ballyfermot again around 1990 and was continuing to do so.
August 1991 Walsh meets Stenson and refuses to  go to the therapeutic centre in the UK stating that he was happy with his  current therapist.After leaving this meeting, Walsh approaches a young boy in  the neighbourhood and, asks him to get  into the car. The boy immediately goes  home and the next day when Walsh calls to the house, the boy’s mother calls the Gardaí.
Mellifont priest informs Gardaí that Walsh was staying there because of  numerous allegations of paedophilia.  Gardaí do not investigate this statement.According to the Commission: The Archdiocese took the fact that Fr Walsh had now come to the attention of the Gardaí far more seriously than the Gardaí did.According to Stenson:Apparently  [a garda] from Whitehall Garda Station had been  looking for a Fr [Walsh] with an address at Mellifont. [Walsh] had  approached a child and the mother had complained to the  Police.  …  I rang  [the garda] and explained who I was and what I had  heard. I asked if he could provide details.  He did but wondered if  [Walsh] had a record.  I evaded that but told him to proceed with  whatever steps he thought he should take.Stenson told the Commission that he acted within the bounds of  his oath of secrecy as chancellor.
September 1991 Archbishop orders Walsh to live in St John of God psychiatric hospital until going to the UK.  The night before he is  due to enter the hospital, he tries to get  a boy aged 11 ninto his car.  The boy refused.  He then follows the boy home and tries to persuade his sister that the boy should go out with  him.  The family called the Gardaí.
The investigating Garda phones Stenson because another complaint has been received at a different station.  Gardaí had received a complaint a year earlier but had done nothing except report it to the boy’s headmaster.Stenson notes: “[the garda] assured me that there was ‘no question of prosecution”The garda, in his report written some 11 years later, stated that  Stenson told him the Church was carrying out an internal  investigation into the paedophile activities of Walsh and that he had asked  for the garda’s  co-operation.Fr (later bishop) Willie Walsh  called to Whitehall station stating that he had been appointed to carry out an  internal investigation into the paedophile activities of Fr Walsh.  Willie Walsh was the presiding judge in the Church penal process being undertaken  at that time.  The garda gave him details of the incident in August.  The garda  report stated that neither Monsignor Stenson nor Fr Willie Walsh made any  report of a criminal nature concerning the activities of Fr Walsh or any other  priest.According to the Commission, for all practical purposes, any garda  investigation into Fr Walsh’s activities ceased at this point even though by  nowthey were aware of three incidents of suspicious behaviour.   Stenson’s failure to tell of the other known  allegations meant that they were, as yet, unaware of the  bigger problem.
Walsh difficult and unco-operative in  St John of God’s.
November-December 1991 Walsh in UK clinic.Clinic reports that he  admitted to abusing 100 boys.  The report outlines the classic picture of a  paedophile grooming children, then abusing them and minimising the impact  of his behaviour.
Walsh returns to Dublin to live with sister.
January 1992 Walsh returns to UK for  intensive course.Walsh permitted to roam the streets of the nearby large city unsupervised.   He dresses in clerical attire and introduces himself to local clergy, saying Mass in local churches.  He visits a house and offers to baby-sit.  By chance, the father of the children calls to the clinic.  Walsh immediately  ejected from the clinic and returns to Dublin.
April 1992 Church penal process.Walsh admits to abusing five named  individuals and to approximately 100 instances of abuse in respect of ten  unnamed children.  He says that he had had another 80, 90 or possibly 100  children sitting on his knee in Ballyfermot.  When questioned further on this,  he agrees that he was sexually aroused when the children were sitting on his  knee.  As the Commission states, this is child sexual abuse.Among the other people who give evidence at the penal process  are  a number of parents of complainants, the garda involved in the 1991  concerns and the psychologist who was treating Fr Walsh.Mother of the  1979 complainant gives evidence but is not told what the penal process is.  In or around 1995, Bishop Willie Walsh who had been the presiding judge meets the woman and apologises
July 1992 Walsh grooms a 15-year-old boy whose parent is a Garda.  The parent complains to a priest.
A Westland Row priest complains that Walsh has returned to the parish.  Stenson asks the priest to contact a Garda superintendent who is a friend of the priest and ask him to “keep an eye” on Walsh.
September 1992 Walsh complains of persecution.
December 1992 A couple report to Stenson that Walsh had been calling to their home and one day they discovered their ten-year-old son sitting on his lap.  Stenson warns them to keep Walsh away from  their son.  A few days later one of the parents tells Stenson that Walsh had called into the local scouts meeting stating that he was “attached  to Clonliffe”.   Monsignor Stenson reports this to the bishops.
May 1993 Stenson receives a letter from another about  Walsh’s abuse of a young girl and rumours about his behaviour with altar boys.
August 1993 Penal process recommends dismissal of Walsh from priesthood.
October 1993 Walsh appeals verdict to Rome.He claims that he had not abused children since 1988 and considers  the punishment too harsh.
May 1994 A young boy complains to the Gardaí in Ballyfermot that he had  been sexually assaulted by Walsh in the toilet of a pub following the funeral  of the boy’s grandfather.  The family alleged that a similar incident had  happened a year earlier but they did not report it at the time.Gardaí  contact Stenson.  Walsh refuses to answer any questions.  The Gardaí tell  Stenson of  their intention to arrest Fr Walsh.  They also tell him that they are  in the  process of “linking of various skeletons” and that press are “sniffing out a  story”.Walsh denies the allegation.
June 1994 Rome upholds appeal.  Walsh to remain a priest provided he enter a monastery for ten years.
December 1994 A mother  of boys who had been abused by Walsh calls Stenson to say  that her son is  suicidal and that Walsh had been babysitting in recent  weeks.Stenson advises her to tell  the Gardaí.This case is  reported to the Gardaí.
Stenson tells Walsh that:

  • He is  still a priest of the Archdiocese answerable to the Archbishop.He is not to wear clerical dress.
  • He is  banned from being alone with a child.
  • He is not to mislead people that he  is  attached to the  Archbishop’s House, the Marriage Tribunal, Clonliffe College or the  library.
  • If he does not comply, his financial  situation will be reviewed.
Sheehy advises Archbishop Connell as follows:I think it  important that every one of us should at this stage avoid any excessive reaction – no matter what the civil law may say. Least of all should we pay any  real attention to the money-making posturing of the media”.
1995 Walsh admits to the Gardaí that he had indecently  assaulted two boys in the 1980s.  He denies sexually assaulting either of the brothers whose mother had recently been in touch with Stenson.
February 1995 Walsh charged in the District  Court with sexual assault in relation to the May 1994 complainant – the boy  who had been molested after his grandfather’s funeral.  Walsh pleads not  guilty.  He is convicted and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.  He  appeals both conviction and sentence.  The appeal was subsequently  withdrawn when he is convicted of further offences in December 1997.
May 1995 The Archdiocese contact the Gardaí and tell them  about the other complaints which had come to the attention of other garda  stations.   Archbishop Connell instructed Monsignor Stenson to contact  known complainants to make them aware that Walsh was facing criminal  charges and to empower them to make complaints to the Gardaí.
July 1995 Walsh charged with further sexual offences in the  District Court.  Case adjourned to allow the Gardaí pursue further  investigations.
November 1995 Gardaí tell Stenson that all  garda stations have been asked to collate all cases concerning Walsh.Archdiocese now reporting all complaints to the  Gardaí.  Complainants being offered counselling.Connell writes to Pope: “The  Archbishop humbly begs the Holy Father graciously to grant him this favour in  the interests of the well-being of the Church”.
January 1996 Ratzinger dismisses Walsh from priesthood.
February 1996 DPP directs trial on indictment regarding six complainants.
June 1997 Walsh pleads guilty concerning four complainants, and not guilty to four more.
November 1997 The 1979 complainant contacts  the Archdiocese and highlights the inadequate  response of Bishop Kavanagh.  He  says that further abuses could have been avoided.   Monsignor Dolan meets this man and his mother.
December 1997 Walsh pleads  guilty to approximately 12 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency in  respect of six boys.
March 2002 Walsh released from prison.
October 2002 Prime Time Cardinal Secrets programme broadcast.  Further complainants emerge.
The housekeeper in Fr Walsh’s house in Ballyfermot tells the Gardaí that there were always young children in the house and that on one  occasion she was met by two young boys coming out of Fr Walsh’s bedroom.She says that she told another priest who lived in the house of her concerns,  but he did not say anything in response.   On another occasion she recalls Michael Cleary breaking into Walsh’s room and having an argument with  him, but she did not know what that argument was about.
Commission Findings By 1985, the  Archdiocese knew that he was a serial abuser.  His transfer to Westland Row  was clearly an attempt to avoid further scandal in Ballyfermot.  There was an  established clear danger to children and yet the welfare of children simply did  not arise for consideration.The Commission finds it unacceptable that two gardaí who had  concerns about Fr Walsh in 1990 and in 1992 failed to pursue a thorough  criminal investigation.  When a criminal investigation of sorts got under way in  1991, it was effectively shelved because the Church was carrying out its own  penal process.  The Commission recognises that there was no specific  complaint before the Gardaí at that stage but there were at least three  instances of concern.