Thursday 17 October 2019

Martin hints at aiding trust fund for victims

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said yesterday the Dublin diocese may contribute financially to a trust fund with religious orders for victims of abuse in Church-run institutions.

Speaking at the official opening of Ireland's first wind power park in Donaghmede, Archbishop Martin revealed he was examining the diocese's possible "indirect" moral responsibility for atrocities committed in industrial schools within the Dublin diocese.

He was referring to the Ryan Commission's condemnation of sexual and physical abuses inflicted on boys by Christian Brothers in Artane industrial school and the brutalities against girls in Goldenbridge, run by the Mercy Sisters.

Asked by the Irish Independent if there was a moral responsibility for the archdiocese to pay more money towards institutional abuse survivors, Archbishop Martin said: "I have a moral responsibility to act on the things that I have a responsibility for. I am looking particularly at what happened indirectly in the Dublin diocese. I am prepared to look at the fund. I would join in some way, including a financial contribution in a trust fund that was looking forward to the future."

The archbishop said he expected all 18 religious orders who signed the 2002 indemnity with the Ahern government would accept Taoiseach Brian Cowen's invitation to talks on how to bridge the gap between their capped €128m and the expected €1.2bn final bill.

Asked if he had been contacted by Pope Benedict since the report's publication last Wednesday, Archbishop Martin said: "That is not the normal way we would interact with the Pope."

The former Vatican diplomat said the Pope was obviously aware of the situation in Ireland and that the world's main newspapers had reported the commission's findings.

The Ryan Report and assessments of the fall-out since the publication would have been sent to the Vatican in the normal way through his representatives at the Apostolic nunciature in Dublin, he added.

Tough

"It has been a very tough week but it is the beginning of something new," said the archbishop. "This report was thought to be the end of a process, but now it is just a beginning.

"The primary thing we have to be looking at is how we are looking after children today. The way we respond to the survivors of the past will show to a great extent how committed we are to a different future.

"There is no point talking about a different future if we cannot support survivors of the past. Many are getting on in years. Their needs will be quite different in years to come and I hope there will be focus on that."

Asked if the Oblate Fathers, who ran Daingean reformatory in Co Offaly and sold Belcamp College on its grounds in a post-2002 sale for €105m should contribute over half of that sum to the trust fund, Archbishop Martin said he had no idea where that money was today and whether it was disposable.

On the Dublin diocese's relations with Artane, Archbishop Martin said that the Ryan Report showed that when Archbishop John Charles McQuaid's chaplain in Artane went to a government commission with complaints about conditions there, the then Secretary of the Department of Justice Peter Berry, who was not a particularly pro-Church person, said he had never seen a person treated so badly before a government commission by one of his colleagues, as he was on that occasion.

"There was enormous resistance to want to know," said Archbishop Martin. Asked if the Mercy Sisters who first denied evidence of brutality to girls given to the Ryan Commission, remained fit to continue running the state-funded Mater Hospital, Archbishop Martin said he would not make judgments on individuals.

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