Hitting back at demands by Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin for “specifics” regarding Government assertions that the Church deliberately frustrated investigations into child rape as recently as three years ago, the Tánaiste said Rome should focus on rooting out paedophilia.
“The specifics, let’s be clear about the specifics: children were abused — that’s specific. Let’s not be distracted, let’s not miss the point. No loose charges were made,” he said.
“There was the most horrific sexual abuse of children perpetrated by clerics. The Catholic Church did not deal with that as it should have dealt with it. Let’s not be distracted. The Taoiseach and the Government stand over what was said.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister, speaking at a Labour Party conference in Carlow, also hinted that the Government may not fill the vacant post of ambassador to the Holy See, as the state is reviewing its representation abroad. Ireland has a separate ambassador to Rome.
The Vatican rejected claims made in the Dáil by Enda Kenny in July that it had interfered in the Cloyne investigations. The Church’s 25-page response is being considered by ministers. The Vatican said the Taoiseach’s remarks were “unfounded” — but Mr Gilmore insisted the Government stood over them.
“When the Taoiseach spoke in the Dáil, the Taoiseach was speaking for the Government and he was speaking, I believe, for the people of this country.”
Archbishop Martin had said that if “specifics” regarding the claims of Vatican frustrations were not produced by the Taoiseach, suspicions that “other agendas” are in play would be left hanging in the air.