Saturday, March 20, 2010


Good afternoon....etc...

Thank you for the opportunity to come and speak this afternoon....etc..

I have been asked recently, am I finished my campaigning? Now that the Murphy Report has been published I finished?

One in five children in the care of the State does not have a social worker.

Hundreds of children in the care of the State have gone missing.

Thousands of children live in poverty.

The HSE fails its statutory obligations to children every day.

Many children leaving the care of the State quickly become homeless.

It is a criminal offence to fail to have a television licence.... but not to fail to report the abuse or neglect of a child.

Since the HSE was formed it has not published a single report into the death of a child in its care........though there have been over twenty such deaths.

And a Catholic Church which covered up the rape and sexual abuse of children for decades in this country enjoys major involvement in our national school system.... a school system in which the current government claims it has no responsibility for the safety of children.

Am I finished now that the Murphy Report has been published? No ....I’m not finished .... and I hope you’re not either....

The next Government has a huge job of work to do in order to advance the safety, welfare and protection of children. In health, in education and in the care of the state, children have been failed appallingly for many years.

The Children First Guidelines need to put on a statutory basis as a matter of urgency - the current Government’s plans do not go far enough in this regard and the promise to have legislation drafted by the end of this year does not demonstrate an appreciation of the need to enhance child protection measures now.

It is imperative too, that the rights of children are more properly protected in the Constitution, it is deplorable that the current Government cannot even guarantee to a hold referendum by the end of this year.

The monitoring and support of convicted sex offenders in Ireland is almost non-existent. Sex offenders who have served their sentences are generally released into the community without supervision, though some may be under the supervision of the Probation and Welfare Service. The requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 do not mean that there is any real supervision. ... and that’s not just my view, they are the words of Judge Yvonne Murphy in the Murphy Report.

There is an urgent need for changes to this system to be made ...
· Firstly, there is no actual sex offenders’ register. Released offenders simply notify the Gardai of their intended residential address. A multi-agency approach to the support and monitoring of released offenders must be developed along with a more stringent regime of signing on procedures with regular personal visits to Garda stations by released offenders.
· Secondly, those responsible for monitoring sex offenders should have the powers and the resources to make regular unannounced visits to the homes of released sex offenders.
· Thirdly, monitoring of sex offenders should include polygraph testing, electronic tagging, curfews and other restrictions, for example an offender who only ever abuses children after he/she has taken alcohol should have it as a condition of their release that they don’t consume alcohol.
· Fourthly, parents and Guardians should be able to register a concern with authorities about any individual who has access to their children about whom they are genuinely worried .......and in some cases it should be possible for them to be told if such an individual is a known sex offender or not. This measure is already being rolled out in the UK, having being piloted to great effect over the last eighteen months.... the pilot scheme in four counties saw one in ten calls to police uncover evidence of a criminal past. Out of 315 applications for information from concerned parents, details of 21 paedophiles were revealed.... these were sex offenders known to the authorities who were putting themselves in a position of having access to children again, and they were stopped because those parents could register their concerns and access this information.
· Finally, It is not appropriate to offer shorter sentences to offenders who participate in treatment programmes in prison, as the current Justice Minister has proposed – those who don’t participate voluntarily should be considered very high risk on release and should be monitored accordingly.
With regard to Garda Vetting - There is urgent need for Garda Vetting of people working with children to be extended to facilitate the passing on of soft information, organisations working with or providing services to children have called for this to be done for many years but to no avail.

And then there’s the HSE..... its inability to work in its current structure is plain for all to see..........the safety, welfare and protection of children must no longer be left in the hands of an organisation so obviously unfit for purpose. A new Department of Children, with a Minister who knows what he or she is doing, is a must for any new Government interested in seriously addressing the current broken system.

EMPOWERING CHILDREN with knowledge, confidence and language is an important part of the child protection process. The STAY SAFE and SPHE programmes within schools are a significant part of this.

· All teachers should receive a basic SPHE pre-service training as all teachers are involved in social and personal education of young people.
· There should be a module in the SPHE programme dedicated specifically to Child Safety, Welfare and Protection at post-primary level.
· Children’s knowledge of SPHE should be assessed regularly.
For how much longer must children wait for these and other child protection measures to be implemented? What more must happen before Government is persuaded of the need to radically enhance measures which are meant to lend themselves to the safety, welfare and protection of children in this country? If the next Government continues this Government’s failures, then we will listen to many more harrowing accounts well into the future as today’s and tomorrow’s children ask ..... why was I not protected by you?....................I urge you not to let that happen.....!!


I have read the ‘Pastoral Letter’ from the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI. The context is of course inappropriate, as by its very definition a pastoral letter is addressed only to practicing Catholics and so ignores many other people who may in some way have been affected by this issue. A pastoral letter is not the way to respond to the Ferns, Ryan & Murphy Reports detailing the rape, abuse and sexual abuse of children by priests and religious in this country and its cover up by Church authorities.

As I had anticipated the letter also fails to address any of the issues raised by myself and others in our open letter to the Pope last month, in advance of the Irish Bishops’ trip to Rome. Our requests were straightforward and easily actionable:

That Pope Benedict, on behalf of the Catholic Church, articulate full acceptance of the findings of the Murphy Report.

That Pope Benedict accept the resignations of Bishops Moriarty, Walshe, and Field without delay.

That Pope Benedict remove Bishop Martin Drennan from office.

That Pope Benedict request the resignations of any other Bishops, who know that their own handling of allegations of child sexual abuse in their own Dioceses, would not stand up to the same scrutiny that the Dioceses of Ferns and Dublin have had e.g. Cardinal Sean Brady...

That Pope Benedict issue all returning Bishops with an expressed instruction to follow all Sate guidelines and protocols as they exist, and as they are further developed, in relation to the safety, welfare and protection of children.

All of this has been ignored, again. There has been no owning of the Catholic Church’s part in causing the sexual abuse of so many children by protecting paedophile priests. Instead Pope Benedict has repeated his apology for the hurt caused to those abused by abused but the Church’s role is referred only as failing to deal with criminal and sinful acts. The Catholic Church did not fail to act – it acted very clearly to protect itself and leave other children to pay the price. Pope Benedict goes on to propose a path of healing, renewal and reparation. It takes a certain level of arrogance to cause the sexual abuse of children and then put yourself forward as part of the healing process.

Over the next few days I can give a more considered response to this letter, but on first reading it has failed to address this issue at all seriously.

As things currently stand, the Catholic Church in Ireland and globally is led by Cardinal Sean Brady and Pope Benedict respectively, both of whom failed to protect children from priests known to them be a danger to children. If the Catholic Church wants to have any credibility moving forward from this point that situation must change.

END - 20/03/2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


This morning Cardinal Sean Brady confirmed that he has no intention of resigning at this time. In response I say that if the Catholic Church in Ireland is to be led by a man who accurately reflects it in its current state, then perhaps it is only right and fitting that it be led by a man who has participated in the cover up of the sexual abuse of children by a priest.

END - 17/03/2010

Monday, March 15, 2010


That sick feeling I’ve had in my stomach on and off since the Murphy Report was published last November is back. And I’m angry. In 1975 When Cardinal Sean Brady was a priest investigating allegations of child sexual abuse against Father Brendan Smyth he had the children who made the allegations sign a document to say that their allegations and his investigation would be kept secret. Today Sean Brady says that that does not mean he covered up those sexual abuse allegations. Yes it does. He says Brendan Smyth was no longer allowed to be a priest. Yes he was. He just wasn’t a priest of the Diocese, but he was still a priest, with all of the access to children that such a position gave him. What Sean Brady did was to participate in a process which removed Smyth as a problem, a liability, for the Diocese. But that process did nothing to remove Smyth from having access to more children who he went on to sexually abuse.

People are livid with anger listening to Sean Brady’s pathetic excuses in the last couple of days. He says he was not the designated person to report the matter to the authorities – this is self serving nonsense. He was an intelligent man, highly enough regarded by the Catholic Church to conduct this investigation in the first place. He allowed himself to be part of a process whereby the Church did investigate these matters internally instead of reporting them to the civil authorities. That process blatantly failed, as it was destined to do, because the motivation behind it was the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal and the protection of the reputation of the Church. Other children paid the price for that failure and Sean Brady should step aside not least out of respect for the experiences of children who were sexually abused after that time in 1975.

Father Ivan Payne did enormous damage to me when he sexually abused me as a child. For many years I carried the hurt and pain that that caused me and my life fell apart. In time I turned things round again for myself and I feel that I live my personal life very much, though not entirely, free of that hurt and pain. When the Murphy Report was published I was deeply saddened at the thoughts of so many other children sexually abused by priests in the Archdiocese of Dublin. I was furious to read of so many of those children abused by priests that the Archdiocese knew to be a danger to children.

I expected to see Bishops who were part of the governance of the Archdiocese at any time between 1975 and 2004 immediately offer to stand aside. To me it was irrelevant the extent to which individual Bishops were named or not named, so horrendous were the accounts of sexual abuse of children, I thought Bishops would be so shamed that so much of it was covered up on their watch that they would go immediately. Instead we were treated to the sight of one Bishop after another attempt to minimise his own role and refer to the Report as containing nothing that should cause him to have to resign.

Bishop Moriarty said he was not directly criticised in the Report, Bishop Drennan said there was nothing negative about him either, Bishop Field said he’d done nothing wrong, Bishop Walsh said if he had done any wrong he’d be gone and Bishop Murray said he never deliberately or knowingly sought to cover up or withhold information brought to my attention.

None of them seemed to be at all moved by experiences so many children had at the hands of abusing priests. Didn’t they care? No they didn’t. Paragraph 1.35 of the Murphy Report describes the bishops’ attitude as they covered up for paedophile priests: “There was little or no concern for the welfare of the abused child or for the welfare of other children who might come into contact with the priest.” (That sentence could have been written for Sean Brady). Judging from the sight of Bishops as they obscenely attempted to cling onto office they had no more concern for the welfare of adult men and women who demanded they account and take responsibility for what they had done, and what they had failed to do, as they had for those same men and women when they were little children whose lives were being devastated by known paedophile priests.

Bishop Murray has since resigned. Bishops Moriarty, Walshe and Field offered their resignations to Pope Benedict before Christmas 2009 but they have not yet been accepted and we don’t know that they will be. Bishop Drennan not only refuses to meet victims of clerical sexual abuse, but he adds insult to injury by describing victims as being hard to move on from a position of seeking revenge. Such insulting comments don’t bring up hurt and anger from when I was a child. I am hurt and angry today to see Catholic Bishops so intent on clinging onto office that they disregard and disrespect the experiences of children sexually abused by priests by describing us as vengeful and unreasonable and unrealistic in our expectations. When Bishops consider the extent to which children were sexually abused by known paedophile priests and still shrug off calls for resignations it’s as if they are saying such matters are not important enough to cause them to have to resign.

Cardinal Sean Brady is doing the very same thing now, he knows children were sexually abused after 1975, when he was aware of Brendan Smyth’s activities, but he says that his failure to protect those children from Smyth isn’t a serious enough matter to cause his resignation. Yes it is.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


It is no surprise that yet another member of the Irish Catholic Hierarchy, Sean Brady, has been found to have been involved in covering up the sexual abuse of children by a Catholic priest, in this case Brendan Smyth. This afternoon Cardinal Brady has confirmed he has no intention of resigning. This brings to 5 the number of those within the Irish Catholic Hierarchy who are known to have been involved in the cover up of the sexual abuse of children by priests, either by acts of commission or omission.

Each of these men, Sean Brady, Martin Drennan, James Moriarty, Raymond Field and Eamon Walshe are all still serving Bishops ( despite Moriarty, Field and Walshe having offered their resignations to Pope Benedict towards the end of 2009 ). They are Bishops in a Church which the Murphy Report reminds us ‘is not only a religious organisation but a human civil instrument of control and power... a significant secular power with major involvement in education and health’...and it says ‘the Church ought to have some regard to secular requirements in its choice of leader’ (Chapter 1 Para 55).

Given the Catholic Church’s role as a secular power and its role in our publicly funded services, the Irish Government’s silence is most inappropriate. It is not good enough for Taoiseach Brian Cowen to hide behind the Bishops’ role as religious leaders as he did when the Murphy Report was published - he must be asked to explain to the Irish people, why each of these Bishops has not been asked by him to remove themselves from any role within our health and education services.
END 14/03/2010


In 1975 Cardinal Sean Brady (then Father Sean Brady) was part of a process within the Catholic Church which investigated allegations of child sexual abuse against Father Brendan Smyth. Subsequent to this process Father Smyth was allowed to continue in ministry and he went on to abuse many more children. In 1994 he was convicted of sexually abusing children some of whom were abused after that process in 1975 of which Cardinal Brady was part.

In December 2009 when pressure was mounting on other Irish Bishops following publication of the Murphy Report, Cardinal Brady was quite clear that he would resign if it was found that any child had been sexually abused as a result of a failure on his part. The time has now come for Cardinal Brady to own that failure, respect the experiences of those who were abused because of it, and resign.

There will of course be no pressure from Rome on Cardinal Brady to resign, as other revelations in recent days make it clear that the Vatican is now something of a glasshouse.
END 14/03/2010

Monday, March 8, 2010


On Saturday 13th February this year, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told me that there was only one thing worse than the Bishops being disunited – and that was the Bishops being united, because they would unite around the lowest common denominator. He was right about that, though he was wrong to stoop to their level.

Since the Irish Catholic Bishops came back from Rome they have engaged in the most dishonest and reprehensible spinning of the truth. There has been a collective attempt by the Bishops to portray those of us who were sexually abused as children by priests as unreasonable in our expectations, as people who now live ‘in pain’ and as people who are to be helped though life by the prayers of those same Bishops who caused the sexual abuse of more children by covering up for paedophile priests.

Maeve Lewis of One In Four, Marie Collins and myself had asked for some issues to be included on the agenda during the Bishops’ meeting with Pope Benedict last month. They were:

That Pope Benedict articulate full acceptance of the findings of the Murphy Report.
That Pope Benedict accept the resignations of Bishops Moriarty, Walshe & Field.
That Pope Benedict remove Bishop Drennan from office.
That Bishops, who admitted in their December 2009 statement, that the cover up of clerical child sexual abuse revealed in Dublin was indicative of a culture that existed in other Dioceses throughout Ireland, consider their own positions.
That all remaining Bishops are instructed by Pope Benedict to follow all state child protection guidelines and laws as they exist and as they are further developed.

As the Bishops gather in Maynooth this week for their spring conference, they might consider explaining what is exaggerated and unreasonable about these points.

END - 08/03/2010