Email Us My Blog

Father Harry Moore - Report on Artane to Archbishop McQuaid

Question is Why Report 'Buried' When Abused Still Need Answers

Irish Independent, Saturday July 28 2007 by Bruce Arnold

ARCHBISHOP Martin's appearance on 'Questions and Answers' at the beginning of the week encouraged me to watch the programme, something I have become disinclined to do recently, as a result of its generally boring nature and low level of debate.

I thought he had been invited to take part in order to give his views on the story that had been given such prominence throughout the media during the previous week - the Roman Catholic Church's $660m abuse settlement in the archdiocese of Los Angeles. I thought, and still think, it has profound implications here, and the Archbishop was in a position to enlighten us. Not a bit of it. The Archbishop was on the panel for a quite different purpose, to pursue a proposal he had made - also endorsed by the Justice Minister, another panel member - favouring a "summit" on drug-related crime.

The audience - one of the best Q&A audiences I have seen - soon put paid to that idea, politely rubbishing talk of summits and refocusing the discussion on better policing, better back-up care, better training and more personnel.

From the time Archbishop Martin first came back to Ireland, he has favoured transparency. Or he says so.

He is on the record, from an address he gave to the Association of European Journalists on October 3, 2003, when he was Coadjutor Archbishop, that the only possible resolution to the child sexual abuse scandal would be when everything came out.

"There are no short cuts. Over the past five years, there has been change in the Church's handling of the issue, with a policy of openness and of rapidly addressing problems." "Tolerance is never achieved, it has to be fought for." Archbishop Martin, as he soon became, visited Artane in the 1960s, when in his 20s, and was shocked at what he found. "It was a no-go area in society. The children were forgotten."

He did make the point that the then Archbishop, Dr John Charles McQuaid, was "extremely concerned about the goings on in Artane", and Archbishop Martin remembered him saying: "There's not one woman in that place."

He organised that an "Order" nun would help out. She was hated by the Brothers. After this, a former Artane inmate contacted the Coadjutor Archbishop to add more to his knowledge by referring to a report on Artane that was undertaken by a Fr Henry Moore. Fr Moore was appointed by Archbishop McQuaid as Artane Chaplain in 1961 on foot of the Archbishop's growing alarm about "goings-on" in Artane. He was to study the place and provide a report. It so happened that Jim Beresford, of Irish SOCA (survivors of child abuse) attended him at mealtimes, forming the impression that he was quite unlike the Christian Brothers.

Beresford was one of the five "house boys" who served the brothers and he came to respect, even admire Fr Moore's tolerance and intelligence; he was cross-examined by Fr Moore about the institution. The report by Fr Moore was so explosive that Fr Moore himself was deliberately discredited. He was denied access by both Church and State to his own report.

Many years later, he was accused of sexual abuse, charged, tried and found guilty. In this context, the guards investigating him seized his documentation and films on Artane and the conviction seems to have been used to undermine his earlier work. Fr Moore's report to Archbishop McQuaid led to the "Special Inspection" of Artane conducted just before Christmas 1962 by Department of Education inspectors McDevitt, McDaid and Dr McCabe. The three inspectors' documents (delivered in January 1963) constituted a whitewash report about Artane in an attempt to discredit the diligent Fr Moore whose findings were an accurate record of serious neglect and violence. The Government had done the same with Fr Flanagan in 1946.

Jim Beresford made contact with Fr Henry Moore in 2000 and confirmed much of what he recalled from his time in Artane, 1961 to 1963 - the period of Fr Moore's chaplaincy. The report is in the Diocesan Archive.

My conclusions here deal with attempts by Beresford and by the Irish SOCA to see it. When Desmond Connell was still archbishop he simply refused access. He expressed regret about this. With the arrival of Martin, the Irish SOCA, reinforced in its potential for changes in policy by his opening address to journalists, made requests for a whole list of documents, but particularly for the report by Fr Moore.

UNTIL the new Archbishop was confirmed, he could do nothing. The Archbishop said in July 2006 he had given the report to the Ryan Commission - entirely unnecessarily since they already had it.

Irish SOCA explained that there was nothing in the Commission To Inquire into Child Abuse Act 2000 (and as amended 2005) preventing him granting access to them.

The Archbishop said that if there were no legal obstacles, he would grant immediate access. In November, the Archbishop came up with another answer altogether: he had given an oral undertaking to Judge Sean Ryan, not to share access with Irish SOCA until after the commission he chaired had completed its work.

This oral undertaking had been given, Irish SOCA learned, at the request of the commission - though in the knowledge that there was nothing in law to prevent the Archbishop granting access to others.

At this, the last meeting between Irish SOCA and Martin, when serious disappointment was expressed about him conceding to the commission, the Archbishop declared he would now grant immediate access and advise Sean Ryan of that decision.

Nothing happened.

Irish SOCA have still not seen the Fr Moore report.