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Sunday 24 March 2019

Report reveals 'reprehensible' role of diocese

Fionnan Sheahan and Sam Smyth

THE report into clerical abuse in Dublin archdiocese reveals the "reprehensible behaviour" of the Catholic hierarchy, government sources said last night.

The Government will publish the report into the handling of clerical child abuse allegations in the Dublin archdiocese tomorrow after ministers were briefed on its contents at yesterday's cabinet meeting.

The report finds the Catholic hierarchy and state authorities failed to respond to allegations of clerical child abuse made against a sample of 46 priests.

But sources familiar with the contents of the report say it points the finger firmly at the archdiocese -- unlike the Ryan report, which shared the blame between Church and State.

"The Dublin archdiocese behaved in a manner that was absolutely reprehensible. Over the space of 20 years, they moved the problem on, looked after their own financial interests, looked after their priests and not the victims. The archdiocese is centre-stage. Once you read it, it jumps out at you," a source said.

The report will also come to some critical conclusions about the role of the gardai and health services, but will focus on the actions of the archdiocese.

The report comes in two parts -- 100 pages of findings and 500 pages of specific detail on cases of abuse by 46 priests.

The Department of Justice will today finalise the deletion of sections of the report to avoid prejudicing any forthcoming legal cases against offenders.

Horror

Members of Government were not given a copy of the report, but Justice Minister Dermot Ahern spelled out some of the litany of horrors contained in it.

Work on the report was completed months ago, but publication was delayed after the High Court cleared it on October 15. The DPP and the Department of Justice then referred it back to the High Court on October 21.

Criminal charges had been taken against a priest early in October who had been dealt with in the report and after the case was heard in camera three times, the report was cleared for publication by Mr Justice Paul Gilligan.

The Irish Independent reported yesterday that the compensation bill for the victims of child abuse in the Dublin archdiocese is set to double to more than €20m.

The report details horrific abuse on children and criticises the failure of the Church to report the alleged abusers to the gardai. The archdiocese has identified up to 450 suspected victims who were abused as children and 120 civil actions were taken against 35 Dublin priests, or priests who held positions in the diocese.

In the 94 cases settled by the diocese, €7.3m has been paid out in compensation and a further €3.2 in legal fees, but sources close to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin believe the final payout will be double.

The report has found that Dr Martin's predecessors -- John Charles McQuaid, Dermot Ryan, Kevin McNamara and Desmond Connell -- all knew about complaints of sexual abuse involving priests in the Dublin archdiocese but failed to report them to the gardai.

Irish Independent

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