Thursday 30 March 2017

HSE tightlipped over failure to pass on McQuaid sex-abuse claim

The former Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid (left) with Eamon de Valera in December, 1940. The archbishop has been accused of abuse
The former Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid (left) with Eamon de Valera in December, 1940. The archbishop has been accused of abuse
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

THE HSE has refused to explain why an allegation that one of the most powerful figures in the Catholic Church had abused a minor was not passed to a commission investigating abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.

Gardai last night said they were still investigating two complaints made against former Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid.

Yesterday it emerged that one of the complaints -- made in 2003 -- was never reported to the Murphy Commission.

Dr McQuaid was archbishop between 1940 and 1972 and was criticised by the commission for his failure to protect children from abusive priests. He died in 1973.

Yesterday it emerged that the 2003 complaint was not forwarded to the Murphy inquiry until May 2009, just as it was winding down.

Details of that complaint -- and a second made directly to the Dublin Archdiocese -- were contained in the supplementary report to the Dublin Archdiocese Investigation by the Murphy Commission.

The HSE refused to comment on why the allegation had never been investigated.

"It would be inappropriate for the HSE to add any further commentary to the findings of the Murphy Commission, a statutory inquiry, over and above what is detailed in the Murphy Commission's Supplementary Report," it said.

The Department of Justice also refused to comment, and said it would not seek an explanation.

In December 2010, the commission said it had received information in the summer of 2009 relating to a cleric who had been "dead for many years" and which arose from the 2003 complaint.

It found the complaint was never forwarded because of "human error". It also emerged that a second complaint was made in 2010 to Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, which was passed on to gardai and the commission.

Allegations that Dr McQuaid had abused children first emerged in 1999 in a biography of the cleric by Irish Independent journalist John Cooney.

His claims were dismissed by Cardinal Desmond Connell, who described them as "rumour, hearsay and conjecture".

Mr Cooney last night called on the church to apologise.

The Murphy Commission said Dr McQuaid was more concerned with protecting priests than children. One case involved Fr Paul McGennis, who abused Marie Collins in 1960 when she was a patient at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin and was later convicted of abusing Ms Collins and other children.

Explicit

In August 1960, Dr McQuaid was informed that the priest had sent 26 explicit pictures of two girls aged 10 or 11 years to the UK to be developed. The archbishop met Fr McGennis, who claimed he had taken the pictures because he was curious about female anatomy.

Dr McQuaid noted: "I would get (a doctor) a good Catholic to instruct him and thus end his wonderment."

Last night victim support group One In Four called for a public inquiry, saying if the allegations were true it showed that the sexual abuse of children extended to the very highest levels in the church.

A spokeswoman for Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she would be receiving audits in spring which would set out how allegations were handled. She would then decide if an inquiry should be held.

Irish Independent

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