Tuesday 23 January 2018

Martin to present Pope with victims' demands

John Cooney Religion Correspondent

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will deliver a confidential file next week to Pope Benedict from Dublin victims of clerical abuse, demanding the resignation of the Bishop of Galway, Martin Drennan.

The archbishop, a former Vatican diplomat, will also deliver to the Pope a separate message from survivors of institutional abuse by members of religious orders, seeking a formal audience with the Pontiff at the Vatican in the near future.

The Irish Independent has learned that Dr Martin will fly to Rome tomorrow evening with a comprehensive dossier for presentation to Pope Benedict setting out the priorities of the two sets of diocesan clerical victims and survivors of institutional abuse by religious.

This follows an intensive round of private consultations conducted by Dr Martin in recent weeks which will culminate today in his meeting a group of victims who were sexually abused by Dublin priests.

Last Tuesday this group issued a statement demanding the resignation of Dr Drennan, a former auxiliary bishop in the Dublin diocese who was named in the Murphy report.

Last night it was learned that Dr Martin has held meetings with survivors of institutional abuse in reformatories and orphanages run by the religious orders.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Michael O'Brien of the Right to Work group, who met the archbishop on Thursday evening, said: "Archbishop Martin gave us 100pc support on what we are looking for.

"We want an audience with the Pope at which we would present our position to him directly," Mr O'Brien added, insisting that they were not looking for a €1bn compensation package from the Pope.

"No figure whatsoever was produced at our meeting last Monday in Maynooth with a delegation of bishops," he said.

Controversial

Last May, Dr Martin called on religious orders to pay institutional victims more than the €128m agreed in the controversial indemnity deal brokered by the first Government led by Bertie Ahern, now that the final bill to the taxpayer could amount to over €1bn.

Two representatives of institutional victims who attended Monday's meeting in Maynooth have backed Mr O'Brien's account of what happened.

John Kelly, co-ordinator of Irish SOCA, and Tom Hayes, coordinator of Alliance Victim Support, described the €1bn claim to the Pope as being "without foundation".

Irish SOCA is holding a public meeting at 2pm tomorrow at Liberty Hall in central Dublin.

Elsewhere, last night Dr Martin met Christine Buckley of the Aishlinn Centre, who is also seeking a meeting with Pope Benedict.

Irish Independent

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