Thursday, November 26, 2009

Inquiries into clerical abuse allegations

Inquiries into clerical abuse allegations

PATSY MCGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent
The report into the handling of allegations of clerical child sex abuse Archdiocese of Dublin follows on the third statutory inquiry into Catholic Church affairs in Ireland since the beginning of this decade. A fourth inquiry is under way and is expected to report early next year.

1. The first statutory inquiry to investigate how Church and State authorities addressed allegations of clerical child sex abuse was the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

It was set up following the May 1999 apology on behalf of the State by then taoiseach Bertie Ahern in the Dáil to people who had been residents as children in reformatories, industrial schools, and/orphanages in Ireland.

That apology in turn followed the broadcast of two parts of the three-part States of Fear series on RTÉ television. Produced by Mary Raftery, it exposed sexual, physical and emotional abuse, as well as neglect of children who had been in institution run by religious orders on behalf of the State. The final programme in the series followed the Mr Ahern’s apology.

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act was passed in 2000 and the Commission itself was set up in May of that year. It was chaired by Ms Justice Mary Laffoy. She resigned in 2003 due to lack of co-operation from the Department of Education and Church agencies. She was succeeded by Mr Justice Sean Ryan, whose report was published on May 20th 2009.

2. The Ferns Inquiry was set up in March 2003 to investigate how allegations of clerical child sex abuse were handled by Church and State authorities in that diocese between 1962 and 2002. The inquiry followed from a BBC television documentary, Suing the Pope , which was first broadcast in March 2002.

Chaired by retired Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Frank Murphy, it reported in October 2005.

3. The Commission of Investigation, Dublin Archdiocese sat from March 2006 and investigated how allegations of clerical child sex abuse were handled in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese between January 1st, 1975 and October 30th, 2004.

The commission presented its report to the Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern last July. On the advice of the Attorney General, he sought the guidance of the High Court on what could be published as the report dealt with cases currently others.

Ms Justice Paul Gilligan gave his judgement on what content of the report could be published without prejudicing forthcoming trials earlier this month.

4. The Commission of Investigation, Catholic Diocese of Cloyne is currently under way and is inquiring into how allegations of clerical child sex abuse were handled by Church and State authorities in that diocese between January 1st 1996 and February 1st 2009.

It followed a report last December from the Catholic Church’s own watchdog body, the National Board for Safeguarding Children, headed by Ian Elliott, which found that child protection measures in Cloyne were “inadequate, even dangerous.”

It is expected to present its report to the Minister for Justice early next year.

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