Email Us My Blog



Added to on October 27, 2006

Dear Mr. De Rossa,

Thank you for your comments. I think that Archbishop Clifford (and William Binchy) had very much greater justification for a libel suit!

I came across the attached article on the Internet which indicates that you apologised 2 years later. I wonder did you state clearly that the statistics quoted by the Archbishop on the failure rate of second marriages were perfectly accurate? OR did you simply express regret for the offence caused by your comments? The latter type of apology is pretty meaningless.

Regarding linking you to remarks made by others, were you not the leader of the Workers Party [should read "Democratic Left" RC] when Pat Rabbitte made his disgraceful comments in the Dail in November 1994. Surely you had some responsibility to discipline Pat Rabbitte - especially when it became clear that his allegations about a Church/State conspiracy to protect Fr Brendan Smyth were completely false? The hysteria generated by those comments brought down the Government. (The immediate cause was the allegation that the Attorney General had ignored a precedent for the extradition of Brendan Smyth- the Duggan case. The case of Anthony Duggan was NOT a precedent and could only have been mistaken for such in the lunatic atmosphere created by your colleague.) You could have deflated that hysteria by censoring Deputy Rabbitte. Instead your party benefited greatly from his thuggery.

I will record the fact of your 1997 apology in connection with my article. If you would like to provide any specific details of mistakes in my article I will either amend the article or publish the additional material.

I'm neither an admirer nor a convinced opponent of the Labour Party. I am publishing a series of articles on false allegations involving sex abuse made against 6 Irish bishops - Archbishop McQuaid R.I.P. Cardinal Cathal Daly, Bishop Comiskey, Bishop John McGee, Bishop Eamonn Casey and an unnamed Bishop who was slandered by the UK Guardian in 1994. The article regarding the divorce referendum is something of a side issue although there are obvious links to the allegations against Cardinal Daly and Bishop Comiskey. I don't expect the articles to attract a huge amount of attention at present (unless they lead to a libel suit!) but I hope they will be useful to historians when our current child abuse witch-hunt comes to an end.


Rory Connor

Irish Politician Apologizes to Archbishop
Catholic World News Jun. 26, 1997

DUBLIN (CWN) -- A leading Irish politician has apologized for a personal attack on a Catholic bishop-- long after that attack had its effect.

In 1995, during a referendum campaign which eventually led to the legalization of divorce in Ireland, Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel published a pastoral letter in which he said that divorced people who remarry are likely to be divorced again. In response, Proinsias de Rossa, a spokesman for the Democratic Left party, condemned the archbishop's letter as "an attempt at massive deceit." Archbishop Clifford strongly protested that characterization, insisting that his pastoral letter was based on solid information from the United States and England. But de Rossa never responded to the archbishop's demand for a retraction.

Now de Rossa has offered his apology. But that apology comes after the divorce referendum succeeded-- and at a time when de Rossa and his coalition allies are leaving the Irish government.

DE ROSSA Proinsias wrote:
Dear Sir

I do not intend to enter into correspondence with you on this matter.

Lest you consider that the absence of a comment from me implies ageement with the contents, I wish to point out that the references to me are inaccurate and misleading. It selectively quotes from press reports and links me to remarks made by others, with which I had no connection. It also ignores clarifications which I published. You are aware I am sure that views published on the internet are subject to libel and defamation laws.

Proinsias De Rossa

From: Rory Connor []
Sent: 22 October 2006 00:40
To: DE ROSSA Proinsias;;

1. Proinsias De Rossa MEP
2. Pat Rabbitte TD
The Labour Party

I intend to publish this article on the Internet shortly. There is a lot about Proinsias De Rossa throughout the article and a paragraph about Pat Rabbitte at the end. If you believe there are any inaccuracies therein please let me know and I will take your views on board.

Yours sincerely,

Rory Connor
11 Lohunda Grove
Dublin 15
087 ..........


The referendum that introduced divorce into Ireland was held while Bishop Comiskey was being treated for alcoholism in the USA AND subjected to vicious slander in Ireland. The attitude of Irish liberals to those who opposed them in the referendum mirrored their attitude to Bishop Comiskey. Liberals were by definition the caring and compassionate ones. And they proved their compassion by calling their opponents liars and likening them to Nazis. Conor Cruise O'Brien and Government Minister Proinsias De Rossa were the Compassionate ones. Professor William Binchy and Archbishop Dermot Clifford were respectively a Nazi and a Liar.

Minister for Finance Ruairi Quinn was also one of the compassionate ones. However he apologised for comparing William Binchy to Hitler. Conor Cruise agreed with the apology and went on to suggest that the proper comparison was with Goebbels!

It is clear that our liberals define "Compassion" as the holding of politically correct views. And "Nazi" is a term of abuse that they apply to anyone who disagrees with themselves!

Rory Connor

Irish Independent, 27 November 1995

The most impressive feature of the Referendum is the extent to which so many of our people were motivated by compassion for others. Very few people who voted 'Yes' can have been thinking about divorce as something they needed themselves. They voted 'Yes' to help a minority whose marriages had irrevocably failed. The 'Yes' campaign was based on an appeal to compassion, the 'no' campaign on exploitation of fear. It looked for a while as though fear was going to sweep the board, but in the end it was compassion by a whisker. I think that we as a people have a right to be proud of that result. There are few other democracies in which it could be parallelled, granted the balance of forces and traditions involved."

[Not a single national newspaper or political party supported the 'No' campaign. However Conor Cruise likes to think of himself as a brave fighter against reactionary oppressors. RC]


Irish Times, 17 November 1995 (from article "Quinn apologises for intemperate remark on Binchy").

The Minister for Finance Mr. Quinn has apologised unreservedly for an "intemperate personal remark" he made yesterday about Prof William Binchy, a leading member of the Anti-Divorce Campaign.

Mr. Quinn said that Prof Binchy was a very clever man "but so was Hitler".

He also said that Prof Binchy was using his very considerable intellectual abilities to mislead people on the issues relating to the referendum.

The Minister for Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Taylor, said he regretted Mr. Quinn's comment, as did the Minister for Health, Mr. Noonan and Minister of State, Ms. Liz McManus.

Mr. John O'Reilly, the manager of the Anti-Divorce campaign, said last night that the likening of Prof Binchy to Adolf Hitler was the logical culmination of the Government's campaign. "Personal abuse is no substitute for addressing our arguments," he added.

[Personal abuse was already mutating into false allegations of child abuse. ]

Irish Independent, 18 November 1995

"I hope the pro-yes leaders will now stop apologising to the anti-divorce people and get on with exposing the cruel dishonesty of most of the No campaign. Yes it was a mistake on Ruairi Quinn's part to associate the name of a prominent No campaigner with Hitler.It was a mistake because it was personalised and on the wild side.

"But I know what Ruairi Quinn had in mind and what he had in mind was right even though what he said was not. He would have been right if he had said that much of the anti-divorce campaign has been fought on the lines favoured by Hitler's media Czar Joseph Goebbels whipping up emotions and blurring rational distinctions, ignoring rational objections to one's case and simply reiterating objections already disposed of while raising one's voice in a menacing tone.

"Goebbels who was extremely good at this sort of thing, although not any better than the best of the anti-divorce people, had a word for his method. He called it the Big Lie. Just pick one Big Lie, hammer it in and make people afraid to deny it or even to think of denying it."

[I must confess that this is a brilliant summary of my own method of arguing - RC]

Irish Independent, 21 November 1995

[SUMMARY: Social Welfare Minister Proinsias De Rossa called the Archbishop of Cashel a liar for saying that there is a higher incidence of divorce among those who remarry after the first divorce. No sociologist doubts the truth of the Archbishop's observation but it was a truth that did not suit the Minister. He never apologised nor did Conor Cruise O'Brien condemn THIS "Big Lie"R.C. ]

A Government Minister and a Catholic archbishop clashed last night in the most bitter exchange of the divorce campaign.

Social Welfare Minister Proinsias De Rossa hit out at Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Dr Dermot Clifford, accusing him of "mythology, lies and deceit" about "how we will be collapsing into a Hollywood style divorce".

Dr Clifford said last night that he was "surprised and shocked" at the "personal attack" and described the accusation of lies and deceit as "very serious".

The clash comes just three days before the divorce vote for which the latest poll today indicates support slipping over the past few weeks.

But Mr. De Rossa's comments brought the division between Church and State to a new level.

Dr Clifford admitted last night that he was shocked by the Minister's comments.

"It is disconcerting to find a minister resorting to personal abuse rather than engaging in reasoned debate on the points I made in my pastoral letter."

Mr De Rossa's strong attack at a government press conference came in response to comments from Dr Clifford that second marriages were more likely to end in divorce than first marriages. In the US the figure was three out of five, in Britain one in two..............

Mr De Rossa said that people who believed in an Ireland where there was compassion, tolerance and respect for the rights of other individuals should vote Yes.

"This is not a contest between hedonism and domesticity, between free will and authority. It is a contest between between individual responsibility and authoritarianism, between the real and the imaginary and between the future and the past", he said.

[Obviously "Compassion, Tolerance and Respect" does not mean that Liberals should refrain from telling lies about people they disagree with. RC]

Irish Times 21 November 1995

The Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dr Clifford, last night criticised Mr De Rossa for accusing the hierarchy of lying over the consequences of divorce.

Archbishop Clifford said he was surprised by what the Minister for Social Welfare had said.

"The accusation of lies and deceit is a very serious one. It is disturbing to find the Minister resorting to personal abuse rather than engaging in reasoned debate on the points I made in my pastoral letter.

"I drew attention to the higher incidence of divorce among those who remarry after the first divorce. I indicated the finding of research from countries where divorce has been available for many tears now. I felt it incumbent on me to bring that fact to the attention of the people of my diocese," he said.

"I find the Minister's approach difficult to understand in the light of the Taoiseach's appeal on Sunday for tolerance of opposing views and for friendly discussion of the issues.

"We have a very sophisticated electorate who are well able to sort out complex issues. They are the ones who will decide."

Irish Independent, 22 November 1995

Welfare Minister Proinsias De Rossa said last night he did not regret his controversial "lies and deceit" remarks about members of the Hierarchy, and his specific criticism of the Bishop of Cashel and Emly, Dr Dermot Clifford.

He challenged Dr Clifford to justify the "dubious" statistics he had used about the failure rate of second marriages. He said: "There is a lot of anger out there and certainly some bishops have been engaging in the debate in a way which I have characterised as deceitful."

He said there had been "an attempt to peddle massive deceit". And many priests and nuns who dealt with marriage breakdown on a daily basis were "appalled" at some of the statements which had been made.

[I suppose they were NOT appalled at De Rossa calling Dr Clifford a liar for saying that second marriages had a higher failure rate? RC]


There is a direct connection between the lies told by De Rossa and Conor Cruise O'Brien during the divorce referendum and allegations that Irish Bishops were involved in paedophile scandals.

(A) Bishop Comiskey was being treated for alcoholism in the USA, while the divorce debate was going on in Ireland. Anti-clerical journalists in Ireland took the opportunity to launch a vicious and sustained campaign of slander against the Bishop and Conor Cruise O'Brien was an enthusiastic participant in this campaign [See in particular the article "BISHOP COMISKEY AND CONOR CRUISE O'BRIEN" on on 15 October]. .

(B) Proinsias De Rossa was leader of Democratic Left at the time of the referendum. The previous year, in November 1994, a leading member of this party, Pat Rabbitte had been largely responsible for bringing down the Fianna Fail Government of Albert Reynolds by fabricating rumours of a conspiracy between Church and State to prevent the extradition of Father Brendan Smyth.

Richard Webster describes this episode in his essay "States of Fear, the Redress Board and Ireland's Folly"

"Unfounded reports began to circulate in Dublin that the [extradition] process was being deliberately delayed in response to a request made at the highest level by the Catholic Church. An Irish opposition deputy, Pat Rabbitte, then referred in parliament to the possible existence of a document that would ?rock the foundations of this society to its very roots?. He apparently had in mind the rumoured existence of a letter written by the Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Cathal Daly, to the attorney general in Dublin. In this letter the Cardinal had supposedly interceded on behalf of Father Brendan Smyth and requested the delay in his extradition which had in fact taken place.

No evidence has been produced that any such letter ever existed. Yet, as a direct result of the rumours which now swept the country, confidence in the ruling establishment was undermined and the Fianna Fail government of Albert Reynolds fell, amidst talk of a dark conspiracy involving politicians, members of Opus Dei, the Knights of Columbus and others. This conspiracy was allegedly seeking to cover up the activities of paedophile priests.


Rory Connor
October 2006