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Secret societies at work in State

Sir -- When ducks, you know the kind that water slides off easily, want to convey exasperation with intransigence in others, they say, 'It's like the Vatican responding to an Irish child abuse inquiry report.' Well, perhaps not, but words do begin to fail one when considering the depth of Catholic Church arrogance around the subject of accountability for breathtaking breaches of trust.

Perhaps time has come for us to consider that there is a more sinister element to explain the extent to which the Catholic Church has managed to evade accountability. We all accept that the IRA could never have been as 'successful' without the sustenance provided by the host population. Equally, the Catholic Church could never have become so immune to detection without the co-operation and support of many within the State's infrastructure.

When I became a public servant in the UK during the early years of the Blair government, I, along with all employees, was asked to make a statement about whether I was a member of a secret society, such as the Masons. It is time for a similar approach to be taken with our public service.

The Knights of Columbanus, Opus Dei etc, consider themselves to be operating to a higher authority. But this is true of all secret societies. The nature of the beast with these organisations is that their activities are unknown and unknowable.

There has to be some reason why our health authorities, gardai, and most especially, the political authorities, have given the Catholic Church such an easy ride for decades. We need, as a society, to give ourselves a severe slap around the face and shake off the remaining deference that prevents examining the phenomenon of Catholic Church immunity from detection here.

Rooting out members of secret societies from the State's infrastructure would not be an easy task.

But if we want to do something concrete as a statement of contrition to the victims of the Catholic Church, then this measure would go some way to making real and lasting change.

Declan Doyle,

Lisdowney, Kilkenny

Sunday Independent