Survivors of clerical sex abuse have called for a state enquiry into the allegations against the former Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid, once the most powerful man in the Irish Church.
The One in Four group has called on Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald to establish a sworn statutory inquiry after claims came to light that the late McQuaid had abused two victims.
One in Four executive director, Maeve Lewis, told the Irish Times, “It is the only way to establish the truth of the matter. If Dr McQuaid is innocent of the allegations then it will be an opportunity to restore his good name.”
Lewis added, “If the allegations are true, then we must know the extent of the sexual abuse, who else was involved and crucially if the church or civil authorities of the time had knowledge of the abuse but failed to act. If records exist, they must be examined.
“Anybody who has been affected by the publication of these allegations should contact One in Four for support.
“If these allegations are true, then the sexual abuse of children extended to the very highest levels in the Irish Catholic Church.
“Dr McQuaid was archbishop of Dublin for over 30 years and was at that time possibly the most powerful, influential and feared man in Ireland.
“If Archbishop McQuaid was, as is alleged, a sex offender himself, then it is no wonder that the secrecy and cover-ups which have characterised the church’s handling of sexual abuse was so entrenched.”
One survivor is not surprised by the allegations against the former Dublin archbishop, who died in the early 70s.
Abuse survivor Marie Collins told the Irish Times, “If Archbishop McQuaid was abusing children himself it would explain his inaction when the Paul McGennis case came to him.”
Father McGennis was chaplain at Crumlin’s children’s hospital when he abused Collins in 1960 after she was admitted as a patient.
McQuaid investigated two separate complaints against McGennis but took no action. The Murphy commission enquiry into clerical abuse in the Dublin diocese was critical of McQuaid’s lack of action.
“It established a pattern of not holding abusers accountable which lasted for decades,” stated the report.
“The archbishop aimed at the avoidance of scandal and showed no concern for the welfare of children. It is risible the archbishop’s conclusion that McGennis’s actions arose from wonderment at the female anatomy.”
Collins added: “It always seemed strange to me that he (Archbishop McQuaid) could dismiss so easily the physical proof of McGennis’s abuse and his weak excuse for that abuse.
“If the archbishop had taken the proper action Fr Paul McGennis might have been removed from the priesthood and lost his privileged position of trust with children.
“This would not have saved me as I had already been abused by Fr McGennis before the photos of those two young children were passed to the archbishop but it might have saved the other young girls he assaulted in later years.”
The paper reports that film McGennis sent to England for processing was reported to police there, who contacted colleagues in Dublin.
Then Garda (police) commissioner Daniel Costigan referred the claims to Archbishop McQuaid.
“The commissioner has a lot to answer for as well,” said Collins. “Through his deference to the church and the power of the archbishop he let those two young victims down and let a dangerous man go free.”
McGennis pleaded guilty to his abuse of Ms Collins in 1997 and was sentenced to 18 months. He then received a nine-month concurrent sentence for his 1976 abuse of a girl aged nine in Wicklow.
Last July, aged 81, he was given a six-year sentence, with the final four suspended, at the Circuit Criminal Court for the abuse of a young girl in Dublin between 1980 and 1984, beginning when she was 11.