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Friday 26 May 2017

Coalition stands firm over its criticism of Vatican

Fionnan Sheahan and Lise Hand

Eamon Gilmore yesterday refused to explain Taoiseach Enda Kenny's claim of Vatican interference in child abuse inquiries.

The Tanaiste said the Government stands over Mr Kenny's attack on the Vatican and the response from the Holy See "misses the point".

The Cabinet is to discuss the Vatican's weekend response to the Cloyne Report when it meets later this week.

Mr Kenny is being called upon to explain on what basis he accused the Vatican of interfering with investigations as recently as three years ago.

In its lengthy response to findings of the Cloyne Report, the Vatican rejected accusations of interference in any inquiry or the implementation of child protection guidelines.

The Vatican also said that Mr Kenny's claim in the Dail on July 20 that it attempted to frustrate an inquiry into abuse "as little as three years ago" was unfounded.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said the Taoiseach's claim merited explanation.

But Mr Gilmore said the Vatican's detailed response "probably misses the point".

"The point here as far as the Government is concerned, is that the issue we want addressed is the welfare of children and the protection of children," he said.

But the Foreign Affairs Minister failed to provide any specific evidence to back up the Taoiseach's claim of interference.

"Let me be clear about the specifics -- children were abused. Let's not be distracted now, let's not miss the point, no loose charges were made.

"There was an official report conducted into what happened in Cloyne. Children were abused, it was not handled appropriately by the church," he said.

"We brought that to the attention of the Vatican and asked for their response. We are not going to be dragged into a prolonged semantic debate about standing up this phrase or that phrase.

"The Taoiseach and the Government stands over what was said -- the abuse of children which took place in this country is absolutely unacceptable," he added.

Mr Gilmore was adamant the Government stands over what the Taoiseach said in the Dail.

Irish Independent

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