Monday, October 26, 2009

Child Sex Abuse Report Won't be Made Public for Several Weeks

Original article

By Dearbhail McDonald and Louise Hogan

Thursday October 22 2009

THE publication of a damning report on clerical sex abuse in the Dublin archdiocese will be delayed for at least several weeks.

Lawyers acting for Justice Minister Dermot Ahern yesterday asked High Court judge Mr Justice Paul Gilligan to consider a new issue, which had not been brought to his attention when he heard the main case regarding publication of the report earlier this month.

The new issue is believed to concern potential criminal proceedings that could yet result from a current garda investigation, amid fears that elements in the report might jeopardise a possible prosecution.

Last week, Judge Gilligan ruled that all but one chapter, and 21 other references in the report relating to a particular priest, were to be excluded from publication in case it prejudiced criminal proceedings.

The ruling paved the way for the imminent publication of the vast bulk of the report.

But yesterday's intervention by Mr Ahern, following late night discussions on Tuesday with the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and justice officials, will further delay publication of the long-awaited report.

The new matter had not been brought to Judge Gilligan's attention when he was asked, last July, for directions on whether the report could be published. The issue was also not raised at the three most recent hearings on the report.

The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation, led by Judge Yvonne Murphy, looked at the handling by church and state authorities of a sample of 46 priests in Dublin between January 1, 1975, and April 30, 2004. Several of the cases involve men who are facing court proceedings.


The new issue will be heard next Thursday.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Brian Cowen yesterday defended the delay in publishing the report.

Speaking in the Dail, Mr Cowen said the move was to ensure nothing prejudicial was done in respect of any prosecution that may emerge from the report.

Children's Minister Barry Andrew also defended the decision to return to the High Court.

"Clearly there is nothing insidious about it, simply ensuring that the publication is not going to jeopardise the prosecution of any individual," he said.

Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay said: "If there is a need for a bit more scrutiny in the High Court then let's get it done but let's get it done as quickly as we possibly can."

Mr Ahern said that his desire to have the report published was necessarily outweighed by the imperative to ensure that nothing was done which would allow perpetrators of "this terrible abuse" to walk free.

- Dearbhail McDonald and Louise Hogan

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