ANALYSIS: The report about to be published into child sex abuse by Dublin priests will shine a light on how some of the country’s most senior churchmen covered up their crimes, writes MARY RAFTERY
ON THIS day, precisely seven years ago, RTÉ television broadcast Cardinal Secrets , the Prime Time investigation which uncovered widespread clerical child abuse and cover-up within the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Dublin. The government’s response was swift. Then minister for justice Michael McDowell announced its intention to establish a commission of investigation. This was to be one of the first of the so-called fast-track tribunals – a lean operation designed to complete its business rapidly.
And yet, here we are, seven years later, still awaiting its report.
However, the fault for the delay does not lie with the commission. As the initial political enthusiasm for inquiry waned, various government departments dragged their heels, and it was over three years before it was finally established in March 2006.
It has been one of the most silent of our tribunals, with all of its hearings conducted in private. It was catapulted into the public eye only once – during the attempt by Cardinal Desmond Connell, former archbishop of Dublin, to prevent its examination of almost 6,000 church documents over which he claimed privilege. He subsequently dropped his challenge in the face of the clear intention of the current archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, to co-operate fully with the commission.