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Phoenix Magazine 30 June 2006

Religious Affairs correspondent and author John Cooney is girding his loins for a serious spat with Vincent Browne whose late-life rapprochement with God (and Squire Hockey) has seen him launch attacks on Cooney's liberal critique of Mother Church.

When Cooney was traduced at the Child Abuse Commission by solicitor for the Christian Brothers Padraig Lankford, the solicitor was forced to apologise "unreservedly and without qualification" for the offending remarks which were then struck from the record by chairman Judge Sean Ryan. Lankford's remarks followed a reference to Cooney's allegations against the late Archbishop John Charles McQuaid contained in his book "John Charles McQuaid: Ruler of Catholic Ireland".

On the "Tonight with Vincent Browne" programme the following night, Browne paraphrased Lankford in a manner that came close to verbatim repetition of the solicitor's comment on Cooney. When the journalist heard these remarks , he called RTE to complain and the passage was deleted from RTE's website audio record of the programme.

However by then Vincent's "Village Idiot" had hit the streets, with another assault on Cooney's dissection of McQuaid (Cooney alleges in his book that the Archbishop had an "unhealthy interest" in boys and that he may have attempted to abuse two of them). Even worse was the magazine's repetition of the actual remarks made by Lankford at the Commission hearing that he had been forced to withdraw. The article also contained other unflattering references to Cooney.

Statements made at the Child Abuse Commission enjoy "qualified privilege" and this may or may not protect Browne from his RTE utterances and the "Idiot" article. HOWEVER THE COMBATIVE COONEY HAS SOUGHT LEGAL ADVICE AND IS PREPARING FOR LITIGIOUS AND RELIGIOUS COMBAT WITH BROWNE ON BOTH FRONTS.