Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests is to release a damning report into the findings of the tribunal set up to examine the church’s reaction to clerical sex abuse.
An ACP review of the Murphy commission report into the Catholic church’s handling of clerical sex abuse cases in Ireland says it ‘fell far short’ of meeting the requirements of natural and constitutional justice.
The review commissioned by the ACP says that the ‘practices and procedures’ of the Murphy commission left a lot to be desired where Catholic clergy called before it were concerned.
The Irish Times reports that the ACP review says the Murphy commission ‘veered off the tight rails imposed by the 2004 Commissions of Investigation Act and wandered into an adversarial arena that concentrated, to an alarming degree, on naming and shaming those clerics whom the Commission found wanting in child protection at that time.'
The paper says the Murphy commission was set up in 2006 to investigate the handling of clerical child sexual abuse allegations in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese by Church and State authorities between 1975 and 2004. Its report was published in November 2009.
The 42-page review of the Murphy commission was compiled by barrister Fergal Sweeney for the ACP and is to be presented to the clerical association at its AGM in Athlone today.
Sweeney’s report found that ‘generally speaking, in its report the commission refers to such arguments/submissions as were made by the clergy and or their lawyers only in order to try to dismantle them.’
Sweeney also concluded that the commission ‘went well beyond its mandate in respect of one category of witness by building up and making a case against individual clerics who testified before the commission, instead of being concerned only with the institutional response to complaints, suspicions and knowledge of child sexual abuse.’
The study says that, as a result, ‘well accepted minimum rights of natural and constitutional justice were not observed and an individual’s constitutional right to his good name was not protected.’
The Irish Times report adds that Sweeney found that in the report the commission ‘dismisses out of hand any reasons, explanations or mitigating circumstances put forward by those clerics whom it names and shames.’
He added, “When the report is critical of the handling by State authorities, in only one or two cases is the individual employee named.
'When it is critical of the handling by Church authorities, in every case is the individual named. No reason or explanation is given for this.'