The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has called Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s recent speech attacking the Vatican over child abuse ‘breathtaking’ and stated that, as in the Rupert Murdoch scandal, “people are no longer afraid to confront these empires’ corrupt practices and vast cover-ups.”

Dowd, the top-ranked NY Times columnist, stated that “The Irish were taken aback by the ire of the ordinarily amiable, soft-spoken Kenny, the longest-serving parliamentarian in the land. In his first few months as Taoiseach, the 60-year-old had not given any sign that he could throw such Zeus-style thunderbolts.”

Dowd said the Irish were “thrilled with his emphatic articulation of their revulsion at the tragedy, and his assertion of Ireland as a sovereign republic not under the thumb of Rome.”

Dowd’s column is a powerful shot in the arm for Kenny, who is relatively unknown in America but will benefit greatly from this exposure.

Dowd quotes leading historian Diarmuid Ferriter as saying that Kenny had changed the ground rules in Ireland for ever.

“If you look at some of his predecessors, going right back 50 years, they would have been very much of the view that they were Catholics first and politicians second,”

He said Kenny had made it clear at last that civil law was the law of the land, not what the church wanted.  

“We’re fed up with hearing about canon law. This is a Republic, it’s about civil law.”

Garry O’Sullivan, the editor of The Irish Catholic, told Dowd the speech would have major resonance.

"The French Republic didn’t kick out the Catholic Church, but they set up a French Catholic Church and kicked out Rome,” he said. “Kenny has tapped into a vein in the Irish psyche, people saying, ‘Well done for standing up to those bloody bishops and the pope.’ It was lancing a boil.”

“The mighty have fallen from their thrones,” O’Sullivan said.

Dowd stated that what has happened to Murdoch and the Church this week was incredible.

“...In Britain and in Ireland, two dictatorial institutions that once dominated with fearsome power are crumbling, brought low by highhanded cultures inured even to crimes against children.”

Dowd noted that “A large part of the strategy of the Vatican and Rupert Murdoch in acquiring power was to create an aura of invincibility, a hallowed mystique. But those mythologies are cracking,”