The following Press Statement was issued after the ACP’s annual meeting on 29 October:
The AGM approved three new members to the Leadership Team.
Seamus Ahearne (Augustinian, working in Dublin diocese); Gerry Alwill (Kilmore diocese – parish priest of Drumkeerin); Gerry O’Connor (Redemptorist, working in Cherry Orchard parish, Dublin)
We welcome these new members to our Team. P.J. Madden is retiring from the team. Tony Flannery will remain on pro tem, in view of the current unavailability of Brendan Hoban, due to illness.
2. The AGM reviewed the work of the past three years, and discussed what are the pressing needs for the future.
3. The ACP AGM has noted that the recent publication by Fr. Tony Flannery, A Question of Conscience, was not available in Veritas bookstores. A motion was passed requesting a full explanation as to why this decision was made.
4. The Murphy Report: The AGM was presented with a critique of the Murphy Report commissioned by the ACP, and written by Fergal Sweeney, retired High Court Judge from Hong Kong. This document is now available on the ACP website. Its main points are:
- The 2004 Act, which set up Commissions of Investigation was based on the report of the Law Reform Commission (2003). It was an attempt to find a way to investigate matters of national concern without the long drawn out and expensive procedures of Tribunals. But, as the Dail debates at the time show, it did not include sufficient safeguards for the basic rights of the individual being investigated. (See four minimum rights which the Supreme Court set down in the Abbeylara judgement).
- The Terms of Reference for the investigation into the handling of cases of clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin laid out that it would investigate the various institutions that were involved – the Archdiocese, the HSE, The Garda Siochana, the DPP’s office. It was to investigate institutions rather than individuals, and for this reason those who gave evidence were asked to forgo their normal constitutional rights, on the understanding that nothing in the report would defame them personally.
- The report largely followed this in relation to the HSE, the Garda and the DPP’s office, but it named and shamed both bishops and priests. These men were not given their basic right to defend themselves in the context of the investigation.
- None of this takes away from the clearly proven fact that children were abused by clergy, and Church authorities covered up those crimes.
- We have commissioned this report not to contest the fundamental findings of the Murphy Commission, and to point out that the procedures followed by Judge Murphy were flawed, and as such this type of Commission of Investigation needs to be reformed before it is used again. We believe that asserting the right to natural justice for one section of society while depriving another section of that same right is not a proper exercise of law.
Gerry O’Connor 087 232 0295
Sean McDonagh 087 236 7612
Tony Flannery 087 681 4699