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Archbishop's Response Criticised
Irish Times, Dec 21, 2009 by PATSY McGARRY

A FORMER spokesman for the former Archbishop of Dublin, Cardinal Desmond Connell, has criticised the current Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, for his handling of the fallout from the Murphy report.

Eddie Shaw, currently director with Carr Communications and who worked at the communications office in Archbishop’s House in Drumcondra for a year between 2002 and 2003, said communications strategy by the archdiocese following publication of the Murphy report had been “catastrophic . . . absolutely catastrophic”.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s Marian Finucane programme yesterday, he said: “I think, Marian, it’s wrong, the way it was done is wrong. Communicating with people who are your auxiliaries through the Prime Time programme in the way it was done – that was wrong.

“What’s going on now this weekend in the papers, with the Archbishop in Rome saying close this matter down until I return to it again in the New Year ,” he said.

“I will talk specifically for the two men I worked with, Bishop Éamonn Walsh, Bishop Ray Field in particular,” he continued.

“There’s something wrong when people of that quality, and I’m saying this with every heartfelt feeling for survivors and victims of abuse, but where people of that quality get shredded in that way, I’m saying that’s wrong. I don’t have to say it’s up to me to pick up the cross and walk, that’s their job, and Lord they are doing it.”

He asked: “How much preparation do you need to prepare for something like this when you know what’s coming down the track? How much preparation do you need to be informed, to be advised to have a communications strategy? Can somebody show me where the evidence is of a communications strategy that is based on a church that has a mission to its people?”

He said of Archbishop Martin: “I worked with him briefly during that period. I think, and I thought then, he is an extraordinary man because of his background, his experience. But this has to do with communications and the media. How you in truth and in fact transmit messages to your audience.”

He continued: “I get uncomfortable where I see people’s reputation being shredded. I don’t think that is part of a process of recovery . . . reputation is the last thing you have. I’m uncomfortable with that.”

Asked about Archbishop Martin saying on the same Prime Time programme that since publication of the Murphy report the previous week only two bishops had called him offering support, Mr Shaw said: “I actually don’t understand that comment . . . Is that a reflection on the gap that has opened up between one bishop and his brother bishops?

“Is that a reflection on the way some bishops thought about the way he communicated? I don’t know. I can’t answer that.”

Asked whether Archbishop Martin may have been sent back to Dublin with a mission to clear the decks, he said: “If that is true, is it reasonable the way it is being done? Why not be prepared if that’s the decision.

“Why not have the people in, talk to them one to one, tell them this is going to happen.

“Why would you communicate that for the first time, as apparently it was done, across the airwaves on Prime Time ?”