By John Cooney Religion Correspondent

Saturday December 18 2010

THE Catholic Church in Dublin failed hundreds of children by allowing a “most notorious child abuser” to continue his pattern of depraved sexual abuse for nearly two decades after first receiving complaints.

Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin said last night that the church was “loved and respected” by parishioners who raised concerns about the activities of ex-cleric Tony Walsh, but it in turn “failed them”.

The Dublin diocese “acted as a world apart. It had often become self-centred and arrogant”, said Dr Martin as he again apologised for the appalling litany of failings laid bare in a newly published chapter of the Murphy Report.

Dr Martin’s stinging criticism came as it was learned last night that the Murphy Report investigating the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations in the Cloyne Diocese is expected to be given to Justice Minister Dermot Ahern next week.

This report will further rock the church, as it will examine ex-Bishop of Cloyne John Magee’s handling of allegations of abuse made against 19 priests over a 13-year period, between 1996 and 2009.

He resigned after being found by the church’s own internal board of investigation of having put in danger children in schools and parishes after failing to implement new nationally agreed protection measures.

Still further damage to the church’s moral authority was revealed last night, with confirmation from the Labour Party that religious orders still owe the State hundreds of millions of euro in contributions that were promised after the abuse scandals in industrial schools and reformatories.

The figures, obtained by education spokesman Ruairi Quinn, show that out of €348m pledged last year in cash and property after the Ryan Report, just 6pc has been handed over, and no property has been transferred.

More than €26m is still outstanding from the original Indemnity Deal, negotiated in 2002, under which the religious orders pledged to hand over €128m in cash and property.


But the latest blow to the church came at midday yesterday, with the delayed release of the shocking section of the Murphy Report into the archdiocese of Dublin devoted specifically to the vile deeds of jailed ex-cleric Tony Walsh.

It described Walsh as “probably the most notorious child abuser to have come to the attention of the commission”; a man who was likely to have assaulted hundreds of children.

The commission hit out at Rome’s handling of Walsh’s appeal against being laicised — listed in the report under the pseudonym Fr Jovito.

The previously unpublished chapter said:

* The Vatican wanted Walsh to serve 10 years in a monastery rather than force him out of the Catholic Church.
* Within two days of his appointment in Ballyfermot in 1978 the parents of a young boy complained that he had abused their son — but the matter was dropped. A vicar general, Monsignor Glennon, accepted Walsh’s denials, saying “he impressed me as telling the truth”. A similar complaint a year later was also dropped.
* The commission found that by March 1985, at least seven priests in the Dublin archdiocese were aware of concerns about Walsh’s behaviour.
* Walsh “denied nothing” when confronted by Monsignor Alex Stenson, then chancellor of the archdiocese, but he was merely moved to Westland Row, where the parish priest was not made aware of Walsh’s paedophilia.
* Mgr Stenson again confronted Walsh in May 1988 after more complaints — the archbishop and auxiliary bishops decided to send Walsh for treatment in the UK, but on his return the abuse continued.
* The report said it was unacceptable that two gardai who had concerns about Walsh failed to pursue a thorough criminal investigation. It added that the archdiocese should have informed the gardai of all of its concerns but did not do so.
* Pope John Paul II only dismissed Walsh in 1996 after a direct appeal for action by Cardinal Desmond Connell.

Walsh was jailed for 16 years last week on 17 counts of child abuse — clearing the way for the publication of Chapter 19 of the Murphy Report.

– John Cooney Religion Correspondent

Irish Independent


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