Tuesday 22 October 2019

Archbishop Martin hits back at claims of abuse 'scapegoating'

Archbishop Martin at the Pro Cathedral Mass yesterday. Photo: Julien Behal/Maxwell Photography
Archbishop Martin at the Pro Cathedral Mass yesterday. Photo: Julien Behal/Maxwell Photography

Sarah MacDonald

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has strongly defended the findings of the 2009 Murphy Report into the handling of clerical sexual abuse in the Dublin diocese following criticism of the treatment of Bishop Dermot O'Mahony.

Bishop O'Mahony died on December 10, aged 80.

At the conclusion of his funeral Mass, Bishop Eamonn Walsh said the society in which Bishop O'Mahony lived "ignored the principle of equity - audi alteram partem - hear the other side".

However, speaking to journalists yesterday after a Mass and rite to open a Door of Mercy at the Pro Cathedral in Dublin, Archbishop Martin said that Bishop O'Mahony had had "ample opportunity during the working of the commission and afterwards" to put his case across.

He said Dr O'Mahony had had "a robust engagement" with Judge Yvonne Murphy's commission.

He was assisted by "very competent" lawyers, paid for by the archdiocese of Dublin following his refusal to use the diocese's lawyers.


Archbishop Martin countered claims that Bishop O'Mahony did not publicly defend himself against the criticisms of him in the Murphy Report.

He said Dr O'Mahony had sent letters to the diocesan council of priests defending himself and these were published.

The bishop had also urged the priests' council to challenge the Murphy Report.

"So it is not true to say he didn't defend himself," the Archbishop stated.

Asked about claims at the funeral in Shankill, Co Dublin, that Bishop O'Mahony had been scapegoated, the Archbishop indicated that if scapegoated meant that the Murphy Report was inaccurate, then those who believed that should consider legally challenging the report.

He noted that no one so far had gone down that route.

"I don't think a funeral is the time for polemics," he commented. "I stand by what the Murphy Report said. I know what is in the Murphy Report and I know what is not in the Murphy Report," he stated.

"My intention was not to respond to what was said at the funeral but... I feel I have an obligation to the people who work with me, to the truth and to clarify these things."

During the bishop's funeral, the congregation had been told that he sent a letter to the director of communications of the Diocese of Dublin in which he expressed regret that any action or inaction of his should have contributed to the suffering of even a single child.

It was claimed that the statement was never made public, leading to a perception that he didn't express any remorse.

However, on Sunday, Archbishop Martin said he had gone through all files and found just two draft statements which were emailed to the communications office by a third party on behalf of the bishop.

These were sent as drafts ahead of the publication of the Murphy Report.

Following the publication of the report, neither Bishop O'Mahony nor the third party came back to tell the communications office to publish a statement, he said.

However, Dr Martin said he had a great respect for Bishop O'Mahony, who had done "extraordinary work" and touched the lives of so many people.

Irish Independent

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