How Ireland has failed to learn lessons from Famine
Modern scandals repeat mistakes of famine
And, as everyone now knows, it was denial of responsibility that led to the much-criticized deal whereby the Church sought to close the books on the scandal by forced the State to accept a mere 127 million euro for its share of liability whereas that of the State has since grown to 1.3 billion and climbing.
Commenting on the deal a well-known Dubliner, given to gallows humour commented: "They didn’t pay their whack." Heartless, but, if ever there was a true word spoken in jest that was it. For what people do not generally realisz is the fact that that the Church did not in fact hand over 127 million euro.
The deal was in in three parts. In one, cash was apparently handed over, but how much one can not say with certainty. The second part of the deal consisted of a transfer of Church property to the State. But some of this property turned out to have legal complexities attached, consisting for example of lands left to the Church for specific purposes, the building of a school, perhaps a church or a hospital.
But the third part was the really malodorous component: Having beaten and buggered children entrusted to its care the Church now charged for the counselling services it provided for the rehabilitation of its victims. These services were solemnly included in the settlement as a payment.
We have not heard the end of this sorry saga, A little late in the day, public opinion, with the politicians trailing in its wake, is calling for a revisiting of this despicable settlement, concluded on its last day in power, on the eve of a general election, by an out-going Fianna Fail government.
However, whatever the outcome of the public’s outburst of indignation over Ryan I’m afraid that I have to say there is probably worse to come. Of my knowledge, as they say, I am aware that a report into deviance amongst the clergy of the Dublin Archdiocese is nearing publication.
As an indication of its contents it may be told that when he received it, the reforming Archbishop Dermot Martin was so shocked by its contents, some of which had led to his being appointed in place of Cardinal Desmond Connell, that he called the priests of the Archdiocese together and told them that after reading it he felt like climbing into a bottle of whiskey. He warned his clergy that there must be no attempt at cover-ups, no defences, just sincere expressions of apology and of sorrow.
Archbishop Dermot is a man of Dublin, not of denial. Would that there were more like him in Ireland in the ranks of both Christ and Caesar. In subsequent columns I hope to show how the famine affected Irish psychology and how the power of the church, which the famine did so much to buttress, over reached itself to arrive at its present situation in Ireland
Tim Pat Coogan’s Web site is http://www.timpatcoogan.com