One in Four Says Diocesan Group's Letter Contemptible
The Irish Times - Wednesday, January 7, 2009 by PATSY McGARRY
REACTION: A LETTER by a committee of the Diocese of Cloyne rejecting the findings of an independent board on child protection practices in the diocese was sharply criticised yesterday by the One in Four group.
The letter, by an advisory committee to Bishop John Magee, said the findings of the National Board for Safeguarding Children were "seriously flawed", "false" and "defamatory" of its members.
The letter was sent to the board, a body set up by but independent from the Catholic Church, after it completed an investigation last June into child protection practices in Cloyne.
The board found that such practices in Cloyne were "inadequate and in some respects dangerous".
In its letter to the board, the advisory committee to the diocese suggested the board was being manipulated by those making allegations, those complained to and solicitors representing those making allegations.
One in Four's executive director Maeve Lewis yesterday described the committee's letter as a "a contemptible document". One in Four provides support to people who have experienced sexual abuse.
Ms Lewis said the organisation was "shocked and appalled" by the "implied suggestion . . . that it used clients to manipulate the Catholic Church's National Board for the Safeguarding of Children".
She said "the only action that One in Four took in relation to the diocese of Cloyne report was to contact the Minister for Children on behalf of a client in 2007, and to ask the Minister to ascertain if the case, reported to the diocese in 2005, had been referred to the HSE. The rest is history.''
She said "to attempt to influence vulnerable people to act in a particular way would in itself be a form of abuse, and completely contrary to the ethos of One in Four."
She said the "the tenor of the advisory committee's letter highlights all that is problematic in allowing the Catholic Church to monitor its own child-protection procedures".
In attempting "to cover up its own mishandling of allegations, the advisory committee defends the indefensible, becomes threatening when challenged and refuses to accept the victims' own accounts of their mistreatment when trying to disclose experiences of clerical sexual abuse," she said.
"It attempts to discredit One in Four, the organisation that has steadfastly supported those hurt by clerical sexual abuse. It is a contemptible document."
Among the 10 signatories to the advisory committee letter is solicitor Diarmuid Ó Catháin. He was solicitor to Cardinal Connell last February when he attempted in the courts to block documents being presented to the Dublin Archdiocese Investigation Commission. He later dropped the action.