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Murphy Report unfairly 'named, blamed and shamed' individuals says review

The review, commissioned by the Association for Catholic Priests, says that the Murphy report into child sexual abuse in Dublin “went well beyond its mandate”.

Victims of hold a protest outside St.Patrick's College, Maynooth. (File photo)
Victims of hold a protest outside St.Patrick's College, Maynooth. (File photo)
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

ARCHBISHOP DIARMUID MARTIN has defended the right of the Association for Catholic Priests (ACP) to request a review of the Murphy Report into sexual abuse but has said that any priests who engaged with the Murphy Commission were always entitled to legal representation.

His comments come in light of a report commissioned by the ACP which concluded that the Murphy Report “went well beyond its mandate” to “name, blame and shame individuals for their role in any such failure of institutional response” to sexual abuse.

The Murphy report was first published in 2009 to examine the handling of child sexual abuse claims in the diocese of Dublin.

The 42-page review undertaken by retired High Court Judge Fergal Sweeney and titled “Commissions of Investigation and Procedural Fairness” said that the Murphy Commission exceeded its brief by:

building up and making a “case” (called “the Commission’s Assessment”) against individual clerics who testified before the Commission, instead of being “concerned only with the institutional response to complaints, suspicions and knowledge of child sexual abuse.”

The review accuses the Murphy Report of ‘dismissing out of hand any reasons, explanations or mitigating circumstances put forward by those clerics whom it “names and shames”’.

It continued:

Indeed, in its Report the (Murphy) Commission only refers to such arguments and submissions as were made by the clerics who testified in order to try to dismantle them.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

In response to the publication of the review yesterday, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said, “One should never overlook the context which gave rise to the establishment of the Murphy Report – that a strikingly large number of children were sexually abused by priests within the Church in Jesus Christ.”

“It is the right of any Association or person to examine or criticize the fairness an Act of Legislation.”

In addressing the concerns laid out in Feargal Sweeney’s review, Archbishop Martin pointed out however that:

Every bishop or priest of the Archdiocese who engaged with the Murphy Commission was offered legal assistance for preparation, during their engagement, or when verifying drafts submitted to the Commission for factual accuracy.

“To my knowledge the Commission had no objection to priests or diocesan officials always being accompanied by their lawyers in their engagements with it,” he added.

Read the full Commissions of Investigation and Procedural Fairness report here >

Read: New Murphy Report information details abuse by Fr Patrick McCabe >

Read: Clerical abuse survivors asked: Has the Church supported you? >

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Rónán Duffy

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