Friday 22 September 2017

McQuaid claims must be probed

The revelation that the Catholic priest against whom the allegations of child sexual abuse contained in the supplementary report of the Murphy Commission was none other than John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin from 1940 to 1972, ratchets up the crisis facing the Catholic Church to a new level of seriousness.

Archbishop McQuaid, who dominated all aspects of Irish life for a third of a century, was probably the most influential prelate of post-independence Ireland. Not alone did he help Eamon de Valera draft the 1937 Constitution, his opposition to the Mother and Child Scheme was the major reason for the collapse of the 1948-51 Interparty Government.

Successive governments, regardless of their composition, paid homage to Archbishop McQuaid, who exercised an effective veto over large swathes of social, health and education policy. Woe betide the government minister who failed to consult with Archbishop McQuaid, as Noel Browne, the Minister for Health who attempted to introduce the Mother and Child Scheme found out to his cost.

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