Ireland report into abuse by Catholic priests finds police coverup
Ireland released a report into 30 years of Catholic priest abuse of children in Dublin that found the police frequently looked the other way to protect accused clerics.
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The official response from the government and the police has been rejected by some. Artist and writer Gerard Mannix Flynn – who was himself abused by Christian Brothers at St. Joseph's Industrial School in County Galway – says the state's culpability is still being minimized.Skip to next paragraph
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"The state's role in all of this is actively being engineered and manufactured to give the public the idea that it is to the forefront in investigating this but the opposite is true," says Mr. Mannix Flynn, now a member of the Dublin City Council. "Dermot Ahern told us a collar wouldn't protect anyone, but it has. He should have said the Garda commissioner wouldn't be protected."
Mannix Flynn notes that in 1960 British police contacted then-Garda Commissioner Daniel Costigan with photographic evidence of sexual abuse. Mr. Costigan is singled out in the report for failing to investigate a priest who photographed children in "sexual positions" while working as a chaplain at Crumlin Children's Hospital. The priest sent the images for processing in Britain but the processing laboratory contacted the British police, who in turn contacted Costigan.
Rather than investigating, Costigan handed the case over to Archbishop John Charles McQuaid. The priest continued to abuse and was finally convicted and jailed 27 years later in 1997. The report found Costigan breached his duty.
"The apparatus of state was used to protect criminals. The question of organized crime applies here; they aided and abetted the escape of criminals," says Mannix Flynn. "If the [police] Guard has a file of wrongdoing and hands it over to the church instead of investigating it, then that is aiding and abetting a pedophile ring."
Despite its focus on the failure of state agencies, the fallout from the report appears largely to have been in relation to the church. Gerard Casey, professor of philosophy at University College Dublin, says this is because Irish people rarely challenge the state.
"Irish people have always viewed the state as benign, and they still do – even after this," says Dr. Casey. "In fact, one of the things we've seen in relation to both the economic crisis and the child abuse crisis is the state being able to deflect the blame elsewhere."
Casey says this reality is masked by Ireland's cultural expressions: "I myself come from the so-called 'rebel county' [County Cork]. Our self-image is that we're all virtually anarchists but it's a fantasy – we have a highly centralized state and we are totally accepting of it. The almost instinctive reaction to anything is: 'What is the government going to do?'"
According to Casey, this means that Irish police officers are unlikely to suffer as a result of the revelations: "Most Irish people regard the Garda as their pals," he says.
Public disgust at the report has been widespread, with calls for the expulsion of the Vatican's ambassador to Ireland, Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza. On Tuesday, Dr. Leanza said he has not responded to the Murphy Report because it covers a period before he took over his post in 2008.