The Irish Times – Saturday, January 30, 2010

SIMON CARSWELL in Davos, Switzerland

THE ARCHBISHOP of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, has said the Catholic clergy and others associated with the cover-up of clerical child sex abuse, as exposed in the Murphy report, must accept general responsibility for their failure to protect children.

Dr Martin was responding to criticism of him by the former Dublin auxiliary bishop, Dr Dermot O’Mahony, who claimed in letters published this week that the archbishop had failed to support priests in the Dublin diocese following the publication of the report.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Dr Martin said that Dr O’Mahony had, like many others, not accepted accountability for the failings outlined in the report and that he “perpetuates this mistake by misquoting the report” in his correspondence.

“All I would like to see is people accept accountability and say, ‘look this is what happened’. In that letter, there is a certain rejection of what happened – that this horrendous scandal and the cover- up never took place. This I don’t accept,” said Dr Martin.

Dr O’Mahony said suggestions that the clergy failed to take cognisance of the safety of children was “inaccurate and unjust”. He said that “the acceptance by the media and current diocese policy that a cover-up took place must be challenged” in letters circulated to the council of priests.

People didn’t want to admit that “we got it remarkably wrong”, said Dr Martin, but this conclusion was justified and wider accountability must be accepted.

“People can criticise me but I believe that, for me, the reaction to the Murphy report must be predominant – something horrendous happened on our watch and we got it spectacularly wrong.”

Dr O’Mahony criticised Dr Martin for being out of the Dublin diocese for 31 years and having “no idea” of the trauma of dealing with sex abuse allegations without protocols or guidelines.

“Nobody knows where they would have been,” said Dr Martin. “However, it is again a case of blame everybody else, saying: ‘Where were you, what would you have done?’ ”

Dr Martin said that it was “not easy” to determine where accountability lay, but it was wrong to deny general accountability and to blame “some impersonal systems failure”.

The pope’s decision to call the bishops to a meeting in Rome next month was “a sign of his concern” and “an unusual thing”, Dr Martin added. “I am glad it is taking place.”

Dr Martin, who attended Davos to participate in debates with academics and healthcare specialists, said that there were parallels between the crisis in the Church over the Murphy report and the global financial crisis, with a general lack of accountability common to both.

“We are identified by what we tolerated and our identity as an institution is measured by the things we allow happen, even if it happens in a way in which you cannot pin down specific responsibility,” he said.

“I would say the same in the banks – it isn’t necessarily that people were encouraging bankers to behave in an irresponsible way but it was tolerated and therefore that is part of the identity of the institution that does it.”

Dr Martin said there was a certain collective responsibility that existed in allowing mistakes to be made but that no one individual was responsible.

“Something terrible happened in the diocese of Dublin – at least 2,000 children, I believe, were abused.

“The lives of their parents, their spouses, their children have been irrevocably damaged and changed and [ it is sad] that nobody is responsible, that it is a systems failure,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean that everybody has to go up and say that I alone am responsible, but it is not enough to say that the system was wrong.”


17 Responses to “Clergy exposed in Murphy ‘must take responsibility’”

  1. Hanora Brennan says:

    You know, I remember collecting the names of all our true brothers and sisters in many graveyards throughout this country and sent them on to Mick Waters to post on his now redundant website – never happened! I suppose I expected too much of our exalted ‘Leader’? One would think with their vast coffers of the ‘king’s shillings’ that these ‘Groupies’ could have at least visited the graves and placed posies in spring and summer, the autumnal and festive wreath at Christmas to remind us and them that they were not forgotten. Another item to be mentioned on the 24 March 2010.

  2. jack says:

    Barry. I read your description of the graveyard in Letterfrack. I too visited there.I was shattered at what I saw and read on the remembrance stones . I trod on ground so sodden, I felt the truth once spoken to me . The
    tears shed in that hell hole have not stopped . these tears are still seeping around that lonely spot that is a last home for these poor abused children. Letterfrack graveyard. NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN

  3. Martha says:

    Barry Clifford said:-

    “There is one promise I will keep; That is Miss Collins will never be alone again or will the memory of her mother and those other 72 women.”

    Barry, Miss Collins WAS alone, i.e., she was deprived of her mother, so she was alone as a child! Although I myself did not grow up in the same circumstances/environment as Miss Collins, I also was deprived of a mother, because my mother was psychologically raped by Roman Catholic dogma. So, it took me years to understand why my mother was not able to be a NORMAL mother to me. Therefore, in order for me to become a NORMAL adult, not least a mother myself, I had to do a LOT of introspective “soul searching” to understand WHY I was so deprived as a child.

    Its absolutely pointless trying to win an argument with a lunatic – you are not insane yourself. Its like an adult arguing with a child, in the belief that the child is as experienced as the adult. Crazy!

  4. Anne says:

    As always, well said Hanora! this is a man who is supposed to “care” but never once answered any of my letters/emails!!!..


  5. Hanora Brennan says:

    Diarmuid, I put it to you, that you failed in your duty to protect children in Irish institutions in the 1960’s when you were first apprised of the sexual abuse rampant in the institutions. That you all knew the happenings and failed in your duty makes you guilty of the sin of omission! When the pomposity and arrogance surfaces, just be mindful of your own failings!

  6. Anne says:

    Barry, well done! the interview was great!..and at last the march is organised!..
    We’ll see you there Barry whatever it takes!..

    Keep strong..and you too Paddy!..Thank God for you two leading the way.

    We finally feel like we are being listened to. I couldn’t believe it when you mentioned how the Education dep make you “beg” for Education courses!! No disrespect for the more mature student-I’m all for learning Barry but my God it only hit home when I heard your interview. We have had all our money threw at us in chicken feed!..and we should have that choice of what we need that money for!!!..for what’s left for us.

    Take care everyone..see you on 24/3/2010

  7. Paddy says:

    As someone once said “I second that motion”. Paddy.

  8. FXR says:

    I think it might be time to overcome the divisions and focus on the real enemy in Rome and it’s puppets in Leinster House.

  9. Andrew says:

    Excuse me Doctor O’Mahony the ‘protocols and guidelines’ concerning the rape and buggery of children are already, and always have been in place. There’s is no difficulty in this:

    1. Call in medical help for the child.
    2. Call in the Gardai.
    3. Call the parent[s] of the child.

    I think Doctor you [and your ‘celibate’ friends] should always ALWAYS read the labels on medical prescriptions and apply it in your everyday lives:


  10. barry clifford says:

    In all of this rising momentum lest we forget, there are also the blind, deaf and people with disabilities that came through the Industrial Schools or institutions. Also too there are the protestants and other religions. They are the children of all races and colours. There are the children who were deemed too pretty or too poor. They were the children that were deemed a burden to the family and the state. For those that were just children, not only were you seen to be a danger to the state buy you were in mortal danger as well.
    In a period of just thirty four years a total of 170,000 children entered the gates of hell in a small country called Ireland with a population little more than three and a half million. These numbers do not include some of the above. Many entered these gates of hell and for others they never left at all abandoned in the only resting place afforded them, a hidden cemetery.
    Since this journey began I have got to know myself more and hope to have learned the lessons from the knowing. My passion often overrides my intent and sometimes that intent gets lost in translation, and for that I am sorry.
    I apologize for my harsh words and tone to Jim Beresford who feels he has yet to receive any kind of justice along with many others like Derek Leinster. My anger simply was an evidence of what I did not understand as what most anger is about anyway. Its conversion to another energy is a real asset.
    Feet of clay I do have, but my heart is made of steel and full of integrity. My overall desire of our cause is to have everyone on board, survivors and supporters. To seek reflective compensation for our pain and to keep us together to the exclusion of none; For those that have stumbled to the temptation of personal gain, you have learned from this journey too. It is time to come home.

    Yours very sincerely, Barry Clifford.
    Ph: 0877511113

  11. Paddy says:

    What amazes me is that SOCA Ireland claims to represent “survivors of institutional” abuse and yet to find out about their meetings one has to get the information by the back door, so to speak. SOCA Ireland don’t represent me nor do they represent the numerous people who’ve written to this website questioning Mr. Kelly’s right to speak on behalf of many survivors of abuse.

  12. Charles O'Rourke says:

    God speed Barry on the 24 March, Bring the souls of the murdered children from the gulags on the march. Bring that book with the childrens names on it, that way they will be present. If there is a god this is the moment for him to show it.The sheer thought of a 4 year old dying in Letterfrack alone amongst those monsters.

  13. barry clifford says:

    Dear friend
    You are invited to attend the meeting listed below
    With the kindest of regards
    For & on behalf of
    Irish Survivors of Child abuse (SOCA)
    John Kelly
    Re: Survivors Meeting Liberty Hall – Sunday 14th Feb 2010 at 2 p.m.
    Irish SOCA is holding a general meeting for its members at the place, date & time listed above. However, whilst this particular meeting is been held under the auspices of Irish SOCA, we are also inviting other like minded survivors groups to take part and express their views.
    Further, as the issues listed below are of great concern to all survivors, we would like to take this opportunity to invite all survivors to the meeting including those of you who may not be members of Irish SOCA.


    Discussion on what should be done with the additional contributions handed over by the Religious Orders and any contributions that may be forthcoming from the Bishops Conference. This will be followed by recommendations and a vote will be taken on how any contributions should be used.
    Discussion on what should be done regarding any type of memorial to victims recommended by the Ryan Report. This will be followed by a vote on a proposal that the entire memorial project be delayed until substantial progress has been made regarding the additional contributions from the Church and Religious Orders are resolved by government.
    Discussion on the Education Finance Board and suggestions on how to assist the Board improve its services to the Survivors and their families.
    Discussion on the Murphy & Ryan Reports including Survivors views on how the Pope should respond now and whether he should visit Ireland soon to personally apologise to the Survivors and the Irish people for the betrayal of trust by Bishops / Priests and Religious Orders over many decades.
    Any other Business

    For & on behalf of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA)
    John Kelly

    29th January, 2010

    Since 1999 I have never received an invitation to any survivor meeting under any name unless I heard it through the grapevine, by extension of that particular problem I am not registered with any group either. To-day jan 30 2010 I got an invitation if it was a generic one from SOCA IRL. Based on the terms of invitation, though i am a survivor, I may not be a like minded one so you might have to exclude me. All the other survivors that you have at last considered as well, at least 14,000 and rising, cannot fit into a room into Liberty Hall though I think the name a little ironic. If our supporters come along too they may need ‘Freedom Hall’ to accommodate the extra numbers. To address me as friend is a little presumptuous for now though I am willing to explore that further.
    I may be tempted to attend if, Mick Waters, your secretary, and director of your sister company, SOCA ENG, or indeed you, can provide me with proof of all monies you have received since the conception of your company, all expenditure, and the names of all current members. I must advise that Mr. Waters had not responded to earlier invitations to the same questions and hope you are not of the same mind set. I have been busy though finding answers from more reliable sources as a result.
    Nothing can be resolved anymore by the Government, the religious, survivor groups, or independents in any form. It can only be resolved by survivors themselves, all fourteen thousand plus of them.
    Looking forward to hearing from you soon, John.
    Barry Clifford

  14. Portia says:

    “Dr Martin said there was a certain collective responsibility that existed in allowing mistakes to be made but that no one individual was responsible.”

    It is corporate responsibility.

    Each individual is responsible for his/her own crimes, but the patriarch knew of the abuse and did nothing, so is equally responsible under THE LAW OF THE UNIVERSE, which supersedes the”laws” made by men to suit their own agenda.

    The system at fault is the old Patriarchal system where the Patriarch Pope and his hierarchy deem themselves “gods” who are not accountable to anyone.

    The patriarchal state agencies are also resonsible, because judges rubber-stamped innocent children into the “care” of the men and women of god, knowing fine well what was happening to the disposable children.

    In fact most men and women in Ireland in the 1950′ to 1990’s knew what went on in those institutions and did nothing- except threaten their own children with sending them to Daingean etc, to keep them under control through fear.

    Most adults were too scared of the man in Rome, as they had been so brainwashed from birth re Hell and fire and Sin etc.

    The blame clearly lies with the Vatican Boys who got babies into their cult at birth and lied and lied about Heaven and Hell, God and Devil with horns, and human beings heard it over and over from all around them, until all knew no different, unless they questioned it of course.

    Questioning the patriarch is what got one ostracised and cast out of the cult for life.

    So, it is time for the pope to say sorry to all people on Earth and tell the truth of the great scam which they have been running for thousands of years keeping humans enslaved through Stockholm syndrome.

    He might as well do it now, for as sure as day follows night, all human will awaken to the truth shortly.

  15. barry clifford says:

    Today, I went to see the former Industrial Prison in Letterfrack, Co Galway. I was there to visit again the victims of this terrible place who are in permanent residence here and can never leave. They are the children who never got to go home. I carried with me a book that I had just bought and inscribed a few names of the martyred children on a few blank pages at its end. Only their names, age, and the day they died was all I had to go on taken from the tiny markers that were the only evidence left to tell us of the time they had lived. Here are some of those names:
    Michael O Hara, aged 6 years
    Bernard Kerrigan, aged 4 years
    Walter Footer, died of unknown years and the many others.
    What happened to them that I did not already know was in the book I was carrying, The Irish Gulag, by Bruce Arnold. I was feeling alone and a rising anger for then I was reminded of Paddy Doyle’s story from the God Squad of being beaten for not being able to walk properly. Then I thought of Hanora Brennan fighting serious illness and her reminders, and then I thought of you all. I needed help from someone or somewhere and that’s when I made a plea to the children’s spirits that were all around me clamoring for attention. Just then the mobile phone rang and startled the four sheep that stood with me.
    A female voice that wished to remain anonymous told me to attend a meeting in Galway in two hours time. I did. One more hour later the Socialist Worker party decided to support and march with us. The spirits of the children had inspired me once again when I could not find answers and they are with you too. What they did not tell me is what I am telling you now:
    Get the word out, be pro active and kick some doors down. Do not wait for others to do what you should have done, or presume that others have done it. This is all about one as it is the many. It is all about you.
    We need reminders no more.
    Barry Clifford email:

  16. Ed Burke says:

    This is just another example of the great evil underlying this horrible situation. The observation that this is all a “systems failure” is quite correct: insofar as it goes. However, these mythical “systems” are constructed by individual people, who are individually responsible for every brick they place in the structure. Like all of us sinners, these individuals should be down on their knees begging God’s forgiveness, not running off to Davos to be among the EU types who have recently defined children as having “sexual rights.” Are they looking for an invite to appear on Oprah?

    They should just shut up their egocentric attempts at self-justification and get about the essential business of making whatever restitution they can to those they have so greatly harmed.

  17. Raymond says:


    This is the same kind of tactics as when either, our own President says “this is not just an Irish problem”, or when the Pope exclaims “not the whole Catholic Church is like that”. By comparing the Murphy Report with the global financial crisis, he attempts to distract the attention away from the situation here in Ireland and here only. Like covering fresh tracks in snow or muddying waters. Confusing. Destroying evidence.

    And to BARRY I say:

    Well done for your interview. Any chance of placing it on Youtube? I’m very happy to hear that the Event will take place on March 24.

    And thank you for telling some of your story and giving us your website address here on 25th last.


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