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Author Criticises Media Distortion
The Irish Times - Thursday, November 18, 1999

The author of a controversial new biography on the late Archbishop John Charles McQuaid said he regretted that the manner in which the book had come to public attention had caused "hurt and pain" to the archbishop's relatives and to many Catholics.

However, Mr John Cooney, the author of John Charles McQuaid - Ruler of Catholic Ireland, said he also regretted that the book had been "criticised unwisely" by some church authorities and critics before they had even read its contents.

Reacting to a statement from the Archdiocese on his book, Mr Cooney said the hostile reaction to the biography was "a reminder that the censorious shadow of Archbishop McQuaid still permeates the Ireland of the Celtic Tiger".

The author said the description of an allegation that Archbishop McQuaid made "an improper sexual advance to a schoolboy" took up just 11 pages of a 500-page book but was "jumped on" in the media presentation. He said he had "an academic duty" to make known the late Dr Noel Browne's manuscript detailing the allegations of a school inspector about the archbishop's behaviour.

Mr Cooney said he had been misrepresented as accusing the archbishop of being a paedophile when he had intended to present the allegation as part of the discussion of the psychology and temperament of Dr McQuaid.


Church Dismisses McQuaid Charges
The Irish Times - Wednesday, November 17, 1999

John Cooney's book on Archbishop John Charles McQuaid contains no evidence to substantiate claims that he was a homosexual or obsessed with sexuality, the Dublin Archdiocese said yesterday.

In a statement coinciding with the publication of the book, John Charles McQuaid - Ruler of Catholic Ireland, the archdiocese said: "In articles and interviews during the last two weeks, Mr John Cooney suggested that people should wait to read his book before commenting on the claims about Dr McQuaid . . .

"The book has now been available for several days and has been formally launched today. No evidence is presented in it to substantiate the claims made in the Sunday Times articles of October 31st and November 7th. It is regrettable that Mr Cooney has chosen to burden his book with claims of this nature based on conjecture and hearsay.

"Members of the family of the late Dr McQuaid have expressed the wish to join with the archdiocese in the above statement."

In extracts published in the Sunday Times it is alleged that Dr McQuaid made sexual advances to a schoolboy and behaved inappropriately towards other children.

The principal allegation was said to be contained in an unpublished manuscript by the late Dr Noel Browne.


Unite Against `Secular Assault' – Mansergh
The Irish Times - Saturday, November 13, 1999

The Taoiseach's special adviser, Dr Martin Mansergh, has urged the churches to unite against what he called the "ferocious secular assault" based mainly on the sins of the past.

"Unfortunately, some journalists-turned-historians - and I am only speaking of a minority - have not a notion of the first principles of historical evidence, for example that you do not treat hearsay material collected by a sworn enemy as gospel or indeed any other sort of truth," said Dr Mansergh, in what was seen as a reference to the current controversy concerning Dr McQuaid, the former Archbishop of Dublin. "Indeed, you treat it with the greatest reserve."

A professional historian and a member of the Church of Ireland, Dr Mansergh was speaking in Ferns, at an ecumenical gathering to launch a new book entitled Memory & Mission: Christianity in Wexford, 600 to 2000, edited by Fr Walter Forde, commemorating the 1,400th anniversary of the Wexford diocese.

The "new commandment", he said, seemed to be: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour, living or dead, unless of course it would help to sell books or newspapers."

Archbishop McQuaid
The Irish Times - Friday, November 12, 1999

Sir, - Hearing of the allegations against the late Archbishop McQuaid contained in John Cooney's book, I felt a deep sense of outrage at the injustice of such an attack on a man who is not here to defend himself. Then ano ther thought struck me. How could Dr McQuaid (or indeed anyone, for that matter) possibly defend himself against these allegations if he were alive?

There is more than just a tendency in the media to assume that all allegations of this kind are true. The person against whom such allegations are made is presumed to be guilty, even if there is not the slightest evidence to back up the allegations. A certain Steven Cook accused the late Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago of sexual abuse back in 1993. The media immediately went into a frenzy and hounded the cardinal day and night. Some time later, Steven Cook withdrew the allegation and confessed that the whole thing was a complete lie.

Cardinal Bernardin forgave his accuser and said a special Mass for him. Two years later, the cardinal died from pancreatic cancer, which his doctors believed was brought on by stress. The cardinal wrote about this terrible ordeal in his book The Gift of Peace.

There is, of course, another aspect to the attack on Dr McQuaid. Some of the newspapers kept reporting that there was an allegation that he could have been a homosexual. That was rather like saying that he could have been a heterosexual! The questions, surely, should be: Was the Archbishop faithful to his Church's teaching? Did he abide by its rules? Did he stick to his vows?

The implication contained in the headlines was that there was something wrong in being a homosexual per se. But, of course, it is possible to be homosexual and yet abide by the teaching of the Church. Now, I haven't the faintest idea whether the Archbishop's orientation was heterosexual or homosexual, and I do not think it really matters in itself. Also, some of the newspapers seemed to be associating homosexuality with paedophilia, which is totally wrong.

So, the only issue at stake is: was the late Archbishop true to the Church's teaching? And we have no evidence that he was not. No evidence at all! It is quite outrageous that a person's integrity and good name should be tarnished by unfounded rumours and unsubstantiated allegations. It is profoundly unjust. –

Yours, etc.,

Anthony Redmond,
North Great George's Street,
Dublin 1.


Archbishop McQuaid
The Irish Times - Thursday, November 11, 1999

Sir, - Father John Fitzpatrick, a former secretary of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, should read my forthcoming book, John Charles McQuaid, Ruler of Catholic Ireland, before rushing to a moralistic judgment on the basis of newspaper reports and the frantic media debate which was polarised to some degree by the intervention of officials of the Communications Office of the Dublin Diocese.

There are very many important issues and revelations in relation to Dr McQuaid raised in my book, which is a scholarly work running to almost 600 pages, 76 of which are notes relating to archival sources, primarily but not exclusively the McQuaid Papers. In particular it reveals the extent of his extraordinary access to and influence on the most important political figures of the time, including Eamon de Valera, which resulted in his co-authoring of the Irish Constitution; his anti-Semitism; his attempts to crush any organisations with Protestant affiliations; and his secret network of informants who reported on every area of Irish life. His was a power unequalled by any secular or clerical figure of that era.

The book runs from 1895 to 1973 and deals extensively with political and social matters involving W.T. Cosgrave, John A. Costello, Sean MacBride, Sean Lemass, Jack Lynch, Charlie Haughey, five Popes, Cardinal Spellman, senior civil servants and all the great issues of the emerging Irish State.

In the course of my research I discovered the allegation made by a school inspector to Dr Noel Browne that the Archbishop reportedly made improper sexual advances to a publican's son.

My dilemma was whether to suppress this document or to place it in the public domain for calm and objective debate. The Archdiocese's instant and constant denunciation of my finding, ahead of the book's publication has made honest debate very difficult.

Your readers should know that senior personnel of the Dublin Archdiocese refused to meet me for an interview at which we could have discussed the many questions raised by me in my book. Among those who turned down my request for interview were Archbishop Desmond Connell, retired Bishops James Kavanagh and Desmond Williams, the Diocesan Chancellor, Monsignor Gerard Sheehy, and Fr John Fitzpatrick himself. Inspector Joe Devane, who investigated allegations against McQuaid, also refused me an interview.

Father Fitzpatrick purports to invoke a moral law to prohibit my publication of the Noel Browne document. Thankfully, we live in more open-minded days, free of clerical censorship based on a moral monopoly by the Catholic Church like that of Dr McQuaid's time.

My duty was to report the existence of the allegation, now lodged in Dr Browne's papers in Trinity College Dublin.

During an interview in 1995 the late Mrs Mercy Simms, wife of the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, George Otto Simms, and a lady who was generally positively disposed to Dr McQuaid, made an observation to me which I quote in the book: that Dr McQuaid, whom she knew over many years, showed an unhealthy interest in young boys. The book also reveals that Dr McQuaid built up a private library of sexual literature, including pornographic works which were banned under the State's censorship laws.

Until now, the Archdiocese of Dublin has not released to researchers its papers relating to Artane, Goldenbridge, Madonna House and Finglas Remand Home, all institutions with connections to Dr McQuaid. I call on them now to open these papers as part of an informed public debate.

From my research it is clear that, managerially, Dr McQuaid delegated different tasks to different secretaries, so neither Fr Fitzpatrick, who worked with Dr McQuaid toward the end of his life, nor any of his other priest secretaries knew the whole picture. His priest secretaries did not accompany him on all occasions and he would sometimes be accompanied on his travels only by his chauffeur or his valet (neither of them priests).

The book reveals for the first time an amazing record of 25 years of meetings of the Hierarchy, held in strict secrecy. This is based on Dr McQuaid's collection of the official records and his own highly personal notes and recorded thoughts.

Perhaps it is understandable that some church leaders have real fears about my book and have decided to "get their retaliation in first". However I would ask readers not to make a judgment until they have read the book itself, which will be available from November 14th. -

Yours, etc.,

John Cooney,
Eaton Square,
Dublin 6.


Priest Disputes Claim McQuaid was Paedophile
The Irish Times - Saturday, November 6, 1999

The former secretary of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid does not believe the allegations against him in the forthcoming book by John Cooney. In a letter in today's Irish Times, Father John Fitpatrick, who is now a parish priest in Whitehall, Co Dublin, says he has checked his recollections with other colleagues who worked for Dr McQuaid.

"I never knew the archbishop to have visited a pub, much less frequented one," he writes. "I never knew him to drink whiskey. As a matter of fact the only drink I ever saw the archbishop take was a fraction of a glass of wine poured for him at dinner, or a thimbleful of brandy when he was ill . . .

"Is it not gravely wrong to state that anybody is a paedophile without having verifiable evidence to back up such a character-destroying assertion? Surely it is inexcusable to do this when the person is dead and left unprotected by any laws of libel?"


Archbishop McQuaid
The Irish Times - Saturday, November 6, 1999

Sir, - Two newspapers last Sunday headlined for us that a book on the life of the late Archbishop McQuaid would portray him as having been a paedophile. At least one headline stated as fact that the late Archbishop was "an evil sex abuser of young boys". The evidence for these shocking statements was based on a document given to the author of the book, a document written by the late Dr Noel Browne on foot of a report made to him in a Galway hotel by a retired school inspector, now also deceased.

From what has appeared in print and from what the author has since contributed in radio interviews, the troubled inspector revealed to Dr Browne that Archbishop McQuaid allegedly attempted to sexually assault the young unnamed son of a Dublin publican. This awful incident was said to have taken place in the upstairs private lounge of an unnamed Dublin pub where the Archbishop was supposed to have been in the habit of having a drink.

In the course of a radio interview, the book's author quoted further details from Dr Browne's document. These included that the pub in question was located in Drumcondra, that the incident took place on a Sunday afternoon in the late 1950s, that the publican's son served the Archbishop because it was a very busy time for the regular staff, that it was perhaps after a match in nearby Croke Park, and that the Archbishop was served a whiskey.

I was a secretary to Archbishop McQuaid for the last nine years of his life. I have spoken to colleagues who were on his staff back to the mid-1950s and their experience resembles mine. I never knew the Archbishop to have visited a pub, much less frequented one. I never knew him to drink whiskey. As a matter of fact, the only drink I ever saw the Archbishop take was a fraction of a glass of wine poured for him at dinner, or a thimbleful of brandy when he was ill. He was not a Pioneer. He very rarely went over from his home in Killiney to Archbishop's House in Drumcondra on a Sunday. When he did, it was solely for an official function there.

And so, from my experience as secretary, I am not able to accept that Archbishop McQuaid was the man alleged to have been in the private upstairs room drinking whiskey in the Drumcondra pub some time in the late 1950s on a busy Sunday afternoon, possibly after a match in Croke Park, when this sordid incident is supposed to have taken place. I am very sorry for the publican's young son if he had such an awful experience and especially if he was then led to believe that the perpetrator was the Archbishop of Dublin.

I was shocked by the headlines of the Sunday Times and the News of the World. From my experience with the Archbishop, I found them unbelievable and immensely saddening. I feel that the many people, still alive, who worked with admiration and fidelity under the leadership of the Archbishop in the numerous diocesan organisations set up by him during his time in office must today be equally upset. I also feel for my fellow priests who must also be very upset.

Is it not gravely wrong to state that anybody is a paedophile without having verifiable evidence to back up such a character destroying assertion? Surely it is inexcusable to do this when the person is dead and left unprotected by any laws of libel? -

Yours, etc.,

John V. Fitzpatrick, PP,
Parochial House,
Swords Road,
Dublin 9.


Browne `Did Not Intend' to Publish Essay on McQuaid
The Irish Times - Tuesday, November 2, 1999 by EAMON TIMMINS

The late Dr Noel Browne had never intended that his papers, which contained allegations that Archbishop John Charles McQuaid was a paedophile, would be made public, his widow said yesterday.

Mrs Phyllis Browne did not think it would have struck her late husband that his essay featuring the allegations would have entered the public domain. "He never kept his papers and he never filed anything, and it never entered his head that anyone would ask for them or want them," she told RTE's Liveline programme.
The allegations were made to Dr Browne by a retired schools inspector in 1988. The former Minister and critic of the archbishop used the claims to write an essay in the days after he met the school inspector.

That essay is one of a large number of papers which have been lodged with Trinity College Dublin, which is cataloguing the collection. TCD had approached Mrs Browne for her husband's political and medical papers.

She had already given the essay to a journalist, Mr John Cooney, who had approached her and told her he was writing a book about the archbishop.

She said her husband had not publicised the allegations because he saw no point in doing so and he was conscious that people might question his motivation. "He saw no point in it; what could be achieved by it, the man was dead," she told The Irish Times last night.

She had typed the essay manuscript at the time and admitted to being shocked by the allegations. Her husband pitied the archbishop, she said. But she said the late Dr Browne would believe that making the allegations public was not the right thing to do.

Mr Cooney felt Dr Browne never intended that the essay would be published. The former minister believed he would have been viewed as being vindictive and he did not think the allegations would be believed.

Historian, broadcaster and producer of the award-winning television documentary John Charles McQuaid - What it Says in the Papers, Mr John Bowman said it would be important to wait until Mr Cooney's book was published in order to evaluate the evidence on which the allegations were based.

"This is especially the case where the accusations are so grave and controversial," Mr Bowman said.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin continued to defend Dr McQuaid yesterday. There was nothing in the extensive McQuaid archive which suggested that he knew about sexual abuse in the archdiocese's orphanages, that he permitted such abuse to continue or that he engaged in such sexual abuse, an archdiocese spokesman said.

Mr Cooney has called on the Government-appointed Child Abuse Commission to investigate the allegations about Dr McQuaid. The commission's secretary, Mr Paul Doyle, said it would be inappropriate for the commission to comment on any specific case or broad or general issue.


Archdiocese of Dublin Rejects Book's Claim That McQuaid was Paedophile
The Irish Times - Monday, November 1, 1999 by NUALA HAUGHEY

The Archdiocese of Dublin has rejected as conjecture and rumours allegations in a forthcoming book that the former Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Charles McQuaid, was a paedophile.

But the book's author, journalist John Cooney, has insisted that its "scholarly and truthful content" was based on six years of detailed research, and he invited readers to make up their own minds on the accuracy of the claims.

The book, John Charles McQuaid - Ruler of Catholic Ire- land, contains allegations that the late Dr McQuaid, archbishop of Dublin between 1940 and 1972, made sexual advances to a schoolboy and behaved inappropriately towards other boys. The book will be published by O'Brien Press in two weeks.

The main allegation is made in a manuscript by the late Dr Noel Browne which Mr Cooney received from Mr Browne's widow, Phyllis. The former health minister and Dr McQuaid clashed in 1951 after Dr Browne's scheme for a free medical plan for mothers and children was strongly condemned by the archbishop on social and moral grounds.

The document by Dr Browne is an essay called A Virgin Island, in which a character called John the Bishop makes sexual advances to the son of a Dublin publican on a settee in a private upstairs room of an unspecified bar.

According to the book, Dr Browne's essay states that the boy fled from John the Bishop after it became clear to him that the cleric's "roving hands and long fingers had intentions other than getting information about school".

Mr Cooney states Dr Browne was given information which formed the basis of the essay by a retired school inspector who had approached him at a funeral in 1988. The two subsequently met in the Great Southern Hotel in Galway, where the man recounted the pub episode, the book says.

Dr Browne's wife, Phyllis, authenticated to Mr Cooney that the John the Bishop tale was based on the alleged incident involving Dr John McQuaid, according to sources close to the author. The essay was recently lodged among Dr Browne's other papers in Trinity College Dublin, where it is currently being catalogued.

Other claims in the book include two incidents when Dr McQuaid allegedly had inappropriate contact with boys whom Mr Cooney interviewed. Also, the late Mrs Mercy Simms, the wife of the former Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, told Mr Cooney she felt Dr McQuaid had an unhealthy attraction towards boys.

The allegations were published yesterday in the Sunday Times.

The Archdiocese of Dublin's communications office said yesterday the allegations had "as their foundation rumour, hearsay and conjecture".

"No newspaper would dare to publish such material if it concerned a living person," said a statement from the office. "Publication of the claims shows scant regard for professional journalistic practice which would search for the truth by checking all relevant sources. We deplore the fact that the standards of the Sunday Times should have declined so far as to publish such material."

Mr Cooney said he was astonished that the communications office should rush to condemn his book without having read its "scholarly contents based on detailed research over six years".

He invited readers to make up their own minds on the accuracy of the claims by the late Dr Browne and others that Dr McQuaid was a paedophile.

Mr Cooney also called on the church to allow the Government's commission of inquiry on childhood abuse to investigate Dr Browne's claim.