The state also failed our children

I FEEL again compelled to take issue with the nature of political, press and interest group reaction to the Cloyne Report and the ongoing fallout in terms of the Vatican’s relations with Ireland.

Firstly, Kenny’s speech, while appropriate in addressing the historic and cultural stranglehold which an imperious Catholic Church held over Irish society for too long, was inappropriate and indeed misleading in its specifics.

He overstates the findings of Judge Yvonne Murphy’s Commission when he speaks of “the rape and torture of children”. Those terms would be more appropriately applied to what happened to the children in Sligo, Galway and Roscommon and doubtlessly elsewhere under the aegis of state bodies.

I have read all the case histories of the Cloyne Report and do not find anything that comes remotely near the crimes committed against children known to be at risk in their own homes.

Enda Kenny cites a very emotive case of a girl who was eventually married in her local church by the cleric who abused her.

Shocking, indeed and reprehensible in the extreme, but surely not to be blamed on the Church authorities either here or in the Vatican, as the matter had not been reported and remained unreported until many years later.

An objective reading of the case histories cited by the Cloyne Report show a fairly consistent pattern, with a couple of exceptions, of victims first reporting their abuse when the accused priests were either dead or very aged.

This is not to say that the bishop and his delegate were not remiss in complying with the church’s guidelines when they did find out.

They were, but the defects in their practice do not show any evidence of further abuse being facilitated as a result.

The same cannot be said of the failures of state agencies in the recent well-publicised cases already mentioned.

Also, the report acknowledges that the Diocese of Cloyne settled several civil cases with victims even though they were not made aware of any abuse until many years had elapsed and would have been able to defend themselves in civil proceedings.

While it may be considered small comfort to the victims, it is more than they would have received were the abuse committed on the watch of state agencies. There is also a reporting deficit where the lapses and failures of the gardaí are concerned in dealing with the cases cited in the report.

Finally, it must be borne in mind that the remit of the commission was to establish the diocese’s compliance with guidelines which the Irish Church itself had established, not those of the State. The commission acknowledged the efficacy of these standards were they to be applied. The state has yet to adopt them, let alone apply them.

Margaret Hickey


Co Cork

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