DUBLIN, IRELAND - That the Catholic church covered up sexual abuse by priests for years is hardly news anymore. But the highest-profile investigation into abuse allegations yet in Ireland found another breach of public trust: The Garda Síochána, the police force for the republic, failed to investigate reports of priest abusing children and conspired to protect Catholic officials in Dublin for 30 years.
The commission on child abuse by Catholic priests in Dublin led by Judge Yvonne Murphy released its long-awaited report on the matter last week. Justice Murphy’s commission investigated how allegations of child sex abuse by priests in the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin were dealt with by both state and church authorities from 1975 to 2004. The report slammed the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland and, for the first time, reprimanded state agencies, particularly the Garda.
Unlike the Catholic sex abuse scandal uncovered by The Boston Globe in the archdiocese of Boston in 2002 where, instead of reporting the incidents to police, the dioceses directed the offenders to seek psychiatric treatment, in Ireland children, parents, and others reported suspicions of abuse to police but investigations did not follow. Many cases were simply referred back to church authorities instead.
Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said that the report exposed “misguided or undue deference” shown by the police to religious institutions and said, “That has no place in criminal investigations, it certainly has no place in 2009 under my watch.”
“This is not about failings or learning curves. This about the reckless endangerment of children in a calculated, purposeful strategy to protect the institutional Church,” said the abuse charity One in Four in a press release.
Read more: csmonitor.com/2009/1202/p06s04-woeu.html