City centre park to be renamed in abuse fall-out

Andrew Phelan

MERRION Square's Archbishop Ryan Park is to be renamed out of respect for victims of clerical child sex abuse in the Dublin diocese.

The official name of the park is to change 36 years after it was given to the city by Archbishop Dermot Ryan, who was criticised in the Murphy report for his handling of abuse complaints against priests.

Dublin City Councillors have decided to remove his name from the park and to invite the public to come up with a new one.

They voted in favour of a motion tabled by Cllrs Mary Freehill and Kevin Humphreys (Lab) to make the change as a "gesture to all of those who suffered as a result of clerical abuse".

The late Archbishop Ryan presided over the Dublin diocese for 12 of the years covered the Murphy Commission.

Its report found that between 1972 and 1984 he "failed to properly investigate complaints" against any of the six priests dealt with by the Commission from his period in office.

He also "seemed to have adopted a deliberate policy" to ensure that knowledge of problems involving accused priests "was as restricted as possible".

The park at Merrion Square had been in church ownership since 1930 but plans to build a cathedral on the site never came to fruition and, in 1974, Archbishop Ryan transferred the land to Dublin City Council.

"I didn't think it was fitting that we continue to call it Archbishop Ryan Park in the light of what we have heard and the way in which Archbishop Ryan had failed the vulnerable people who were the victims of abuse," Cllr Freehill said.

"So I suggested that we give the people of Dublin the opportunity to offer their opinion and decide what they think it should be called."


She said it might be appropriate for the park to be renamed after one of the city's famous writers to create a link between Dublin's architectural heritage and literary achievements.

"There is a tentative list being made to have Dublin as a Unesco heritage site, and if we get that it will be based on the Georgian city, including places like Merrion Square," she said.

"It might be an idea to put that together with the name of one of our writers."