Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid MartinGoogle Images

The Archbishop of Dublin has described how he felt ‘abandoned’ by his fellow clerics as he tried to tackle the sex abuse scandal in his diocese.

The church leader also expressed the anger he feels towards the guilty clergy every time he meets a victim of clerical abuse.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin opened up to Irish radio broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan as the church here awaits the publication of the final chapter of the Cloyne Report.

Dr Martin, appointed coadjutor archbishop in May of 2003, told RTE radio that he had ‘no idea’ of the extent of the abuse when he took up the position.

“I felt very much abandoned. All I can do is follow my own conscience and all you can do is make things better,” said Archbishop Martin.

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“There have been times when I felt I couldn’t handle this. There were times when I would rather be doing something else. But this won’t go away.

“At times I have felt very much abandoned. But I’m strong. I’m thick-skinned. All I can do is follow my own conscience.

“I responded to what I encountered. There were times when emotions emerged in me that I never knew I had. My dominant emotion on meeting victims is anger.”

Dr Martin reflected on his initial reaction when first faced with the magnitude of the abuse issues in the Dublin diocese.

He admitted: “I didn’t know what I was coming back to as coadjutor. I didn’t know where I was in that twilight zone.

“In all the discussion that went on there was very little concern for the children.

“I don’t think there was the same awareness of the abuse issue then. Generally there was no idea of what it is to meet victims, to listen to them, to hear their stories, to see the devastation that they’ve gone through.

“That I think was something you couldn’t be prepared for . . . terrible stories people whose lives were ruined. Still are.”

The Dublin archbishop also claimed that the church authorities in his diocese had abandoned the victims of clerical sex abuse.

“I felt angry children and their parents were unable to lead normal lives. Abuse took place and priority wasn’t given to those children,” said the Archbishop.

“I will go to the grave with this problem still acute. It affected not just the abused themselves but their spouses and their children today. It’s a huge problem.

“A very small number of serial paedophiles in Dublin did extraordinary damage. The numbers they abused are appalling. It was natural for an institution under attack to close ranks. But we have to get over that.”

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