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Added on December 30, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Apologies. The location of the initial article entitled "Historians Who Ignore False Allegations of Child Abuse" should read on 27 December 2006.

I trust that this is the only mistake. If anyone can point out another I will gladly amend the article or publish the correction separately.

The problem with false allegations against the Catholic Church is that that no dialogue is involved - not even a bad tempered one. When obvious lies are exposed the media generally drop the story like a shot, with minimal apologies and few follow up articles or none. ON THE OTHER HAND if the Catholic Church made lying allegations against the Chief Rabbi of Ireland our liberal journalists - and historians- would still be raking over the issue in 50 years time.

The interesting thing about Fintan O'Toole's book "The Ex-Isle of Erin" is that, instead of ignoring Pat Rabbitte's behaviour, O'Toole attempts to justify it. At least that provides a basis for debate!


Rory Connor

Rory Connor wrote:
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 00:00:07 +0000 (GMT)
From: Rory Connor

To: Professor Vincent Comerford, Ronan Fanning, "Dr. Colum Kenny", Daire Keogh, Dermot Keogh, "Dr. Eoin O'Sullivan"
Professor Irene Whelan, Editor History Ireland, John Horgan, Louise Fuller Maynooth

CC: Fintan O'Toole

(The first article in this series is entitled "Historians Who Ignore False Allegations of Child Abuse" [ on 29 December 2006]. The subject matter is the fall of the government of Albert Reynolds in November 1994 following false allegations made by opposition TD Pat Rabbitte. The allegations were directed against against Cardinal Cathal Daly and Attorney General Harry Whelehan).

Fintan O'Toole was forced to admit that there was no truth in the claim by Pat Rabbitte that the Catholic Church, in the person of Cardinal Cathal Daly, had conspired with Attorney General Harry Whelehan to prevent the extradition of Father Brendan Smyth. The admission is made in a by-the-way manner and is followed by an allegation that Harry Whelehan had been at fault in another way. (This is what I mean when I say that O'Toole uses "weasel words and weasel logic".)

O'Toole claims that the AG's office had "dealt previously with a similar case to the Brendan Smyth one". The implication is that there was no excuse for the delay in processing the extradition of Brendan Smyth because there was a precedent that Harry Whelehan could have followed. This is the "Duggan case".

The idea that the "Duggan case" was a precedent, may well have originated as an honest mistake in November 1994. As a result of the hysteria generated by Pat Rabbitte, the truth of the matter was not established at the time and the Government fell. HOWEVER Fintan O'Toole's book was published in March 1997. There is no excuse for repeating the claim at that stage, particularly as O'Toole makes no attempt to criticise Rabbitte's original lie.

Extract From "The Ex-Isle of Erin" by Fintan O'Toole, 1997

"It was easy to agree. For bizarre as the events themselves had been, what was still more amazing was the fact that, for most of Wednesday, [16 November 1994], the most fantastic rumours had been believed in Dublin. When the Dail met to debate a motion of no confidence in Albert Reynolds the Democratic Left TD Pat Rabbitte rose to allege that there was a letter in the Attorney General?s office whose contents would rock the State to its foundations. Between that and the rather more prosaic fact that the Attorney General's Office had, contrary to the impression given to the Dail by Albert Reynolds on Tuesday, dealt previously with a similar case to the Brendan Smyth one, this claim spawned an extraordinary brood of rumours."

Extracts from "The Passion of Nora Wall" by Rory Connor (December 2005)

(A) The Duggan Case
............ It quickly became clear that Pat Rabbitte's allegation was without substance. Logically this should have strengthened Albert Reynolds and discredited Rabbitte - perhaps fatally. However another factor came into play.

The new Attorney General Eoghan Fitzsimmons was trying to read himself into the job in an atmosphere marked by hysteria and lunacy. Perhaps he was affected himself. A major reason for the delay over the Brendan Smyth warrants was that because the allegations went back decades, there was a legal point over 'lapse of time' that had to be considered in an extradition case. Because there was no previous case that provided a precedent for this issue, the Fr. Brendan Smyth case required a considerable amount of legal work. This was the point that Albert Reynolds put to the Dail in defence of Harry Whelehan.

However Eoghan Fitzsimmons thought that he had discovered a precedent. The so-called "Duggan case" involved another man extradited for abuse charges going back a few years. When Reynolds was informed about this "precedent" he told the Dail that if he had known then what he now knew, he would not have appointed Harry Whelehan as President of the High Court. The Labour Party initially accepted this grovelling apology but then claimed that Albert Reynolds had known about the Duggan "precedent" earlier than he said. Dick Spring pulled out of the coalition with Reynolds and the Government fell. It was soon succeeded by a "Rainbow Coalition" led by John Briton of Fine Gael in alliance with the Labour Party and Democratic Left. .........................................................................................

(B) Duggan a "Precedent" for Brendan Smyth?
The Duggan case was not a precedent for an extradition for offences dating back decades. It has never been used in judicial proceedings or quoted in legal textbooks as a precedent.

Anthony Duggan was depicted as a former monk who was extradited in relation to paedophile allegations that supposedly set a precedent that left no grounds for the delay in the Smyth case.

In fact Anthony Duggan was not a monk. He was a teacher accused of sexually assaulting students in an English boarding school between June 1988 and January 1989. He fled to Ireland in February 1990 and the British sought his extradition the following month. The offences had allegedly occurred little over a year prior to the extradition request, so the time lapse provision in the Irish extradition law was not applicable in this instance, and Duggan was extradited.

This was no precedent for the Fr. Brendan Smyth case, as HIS offences had occurred up to 30 years earlier.
At a distance of a decade it is clear that neither Whelehan nor Reynolds were guilty of any wrongdoing whatsoever. Irish Government fell solely as the result of hysteria. It was a unique episode in Irish political history and it set the scene for other unprecedented events. ....................................................................................................................

(C) Summary and The View from the UK
Obviously the wages of sin was NOT death. The results of an outbreak of pure hysteria totally unrelated to reality were:

The fall of a Government
The resignation of a Party leader
The resignation of a President of the High Court
The forced resignation of a senior civil servant
The promotion to Ministerial office of the person largely responsible {Pat Rabbitte].

Since some people may still be reluctant to attribute these events to hysteria it is useful to check on how the authorities in the UK viewed the issue. After all they were the ones who wanted to extradite Father Brendan Smyth. If there was a conspiracy between Church and State in Ireland, then the judicial authorities in the UK were the target of said conspiracy.

The following are extracts from the House of Commons Hansard Debates for 21 November 1994:

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Attorney-General what representations his Department received from the Catholic Church in respect of Brendan Smyth; and if he will make a statement.
The Attorney-General: None.
Opus Dei
Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Attorney-General what is his policy in relation to employing members of Opus Dei in his Department.
The Attorney-General: There is no specific policy in relation to the secondment of Opus Dei members to my Department. The civil service does not discriminate on grounds of religion.

If it were not so politically incorrect, one might imagine the Whitehall mandarins being quietly amused at the antics of their ridiculous ex-colonial subjects.
"New caught sullen peoples, half devil and half child" indeed - should they ever have let us go?

(D) Epilogue: Historian Diarmaid Ferriter and Harry Whelehan
These extraordinary events have received rather cursory treatment from historians of modern Ireland. In particular the role of Pat Rabbitte has been air-brushed from the story. However in his book "The Transformation of Ireland 1900-2000" Diarmaid Ferriter makes this significant comment:

"Some became angry when that when Harry Whelehan was questioned and denied the existence of a Catholic conspiracy within the Attorney-General's office, he felt the need to defend his right to be a practicing Catholic."

This issue had never before arisen in Irish politics. The first President of Ireland was a Protestant. During the De Valera era, Jews played a prominent role in Fianna Fail (the party most closely identified with the Catholic Church) and there had been Jewish Lord Mayors of Dublin and Cork. The disgusting attacks on Harry Whelehan indicated that religious hatred was making its opening debut in Irish public life. The fact that it took the form of anti-clericalism rather than anti-Semiticism made it acceptable to many liberals.


"The Ex-Isle of Erin" is right. A country that
(a) slanders honest politicians and churchmen and
(b) honours the slanderers
has lost its integrity and is unlikely to retain its freedom for long.