Do we hear faint stirrings of reform?

The Catholic abuse crisis is a pretty brutal reminder that Modern Ireland is not as modern as many people thought. Might it just be that the black North has something to teach the South re the relationship between Church and State? The veteran commentator Bruce Arnold seems to think so. Pre- crash sleaze dating back to the Haughey era, the unfolding of the financial crisis and bursting of the dam of child abuse are slowly stirring debate about a rebalancing of the powers between Dail and government and constitutional reform, says elder statesman Des O’Malley. We look forward hopefully to covering it. A bit worrying though if it’s left to the oldies to set the pace. Where are the young ‘uns – ( in this context, anybody under 40)? Here is fruitful territory for the northern centre ground to operate, if they have the drive and imagination.

Bruce Arnold

What we need is a commission of inquiry, with this brief: To look into the broken and ignored relationship between the pre-eminence of state law and the confusion in state law created by the widespread respect for canon law. Such a commission would need a short timetable and its remit confined. It should consist of a small group drawn from Northern Ireland and the Republic. Nuala O’Loan comes to mind as well as Maurice Hayes. The SDLP politician, Declan O’Loan is another sensible candidate. In recent criticism of the Pope’s letter he expressed disappointment that it did not address or analyse “what went wrong and why it went wrong”.
He repudiates “the very unhealthy culture of centralised clerical power within the church and the attendant secrecy. If that is not even admitted, what hope is there of correcting it thoroughly?”.

  • Alias

    Des O’Malley is fairly typical of low calibre politicians who blame the system as a means of ignoring their own role in it – you wouldn’t even know that he was a Minister of Justice. The problem isn’t the lack of law or the multiplicity of it: the problem is the lack of political will to apply the law. For example, the State could prosecute Sean Brady under Section 17 of the Offences against the State Act 1939 in respect to administering unlawful oaths but it once again refuses to apply the law to the Church for political reasons.

  • Alias

    And, by the way, the only thing that Northern Ireland has to teach Ireland in regard to sex abuse in the Catholic Church is how to successfully ignore the problem by holding absolutely no public enquiries into it despite overwhelming evidence from Ireland that the same Church will have implemented the same policies in both jurisdiction, thereby producing the same victims pro-rata. Until the folks in Northern Ireland take their heads out of the sand and investigate the problem in its jurisdiction instead of ignoring it, they’d be better served keeping their mouths shut rather than directing lectures at those who at least – unlike them – acknowledge that they have a problem.

  • Pete Baker

    “Do we hear faint stirrings of reform?”

    No, Brian.

    We hear “the oldies” running interference for the church.

    Change can only come from the top.

    And, as I’ve pointed out before, this Pope isn’t interested in a Reformation.

  • abucs
  • joeCanuck


    Northern Ireland has nothing to teach the ROI about dealing with child sexual abuse by the clergy. Such abuse was/is rampant in N.I. too.

  • Munsterview

    The article on the Popes letter attracted over two hundred postings. As I pointed out in some of my postings the usual suspects who would have been thundering in their defense of the 26 county state even to the extent of challenging my nomenclature, now responded with a deafening silence! These pro establishment and pro status quo voices wanted the debate and what it may expose dead.

    Recently R.T.E carried a program on Harry Wheelan’s, former Attorney General’s resignation when appointed President Of The High Court. It carried every reason but the real one.

    Harry had been told in person of the child sexual abuse of a minor by a police informer who was active in I.R.S.P. and left wing political circles. This was followed by two personal phone calls that Harry took from the person that acted for the child’s mother. After Harry’s appointment the child’s mother went to the Sunday Tribune who did an investigation and were about to break the story in detail.

    Harry resigned as President Of The High Court and the Trib published a scaled down article. The hard questions were never asked, who else in Government did Harry tell? Albert Reynols certainly knew and of course the top people in the Dep. Of Justice and the Gardai who facilitated the activities of this paedophile informer knew.

    The abused persons mother had a letter exchange with Minister Ahern at the end of 2009 and start of 2010. By April first she will be waiting a full two months and some weeks for a reply to her last letter, a copy of which was hand delivered to Minister Aherns constituency sec. in his own constituency office.

    His last letter invited her to contact the Gardai, one of very the parties she claimed had facilitated the paedophile activities of the informer in abusing her son.

    These are the people that we expect to hold the Bishops accountable.? This Rotten State has been without a moral compass and rudderless for quite a long while know. Ahern incidently is one of the leading contenders for Fianna Fail Leadership. Some chance for change or prospect of it! There may be a ‘feel good’ factor in kicking the Church but the majority of child sex abuse is still happening, untouched and ignored.

  • Munsterview

    I am still not sure I agree with you about the majority of sexual abuse, but there is no doubt the government, and previous governments have questions to answer. Is it possible for this lady to go through the European route? There must be a way for the family to get justice, they must not give up.

    As to what the north might be able to teach us. I do think there is. It may be slow and for many it is extremely painful but the Brits do eventually examine each case and their own FOI now makes it easier to get information.

  • “a constitutional amendment was passed allowing graduates of universities other than National and Trinity to vote in a Senate election if provision was made by law. It never was because there was no demand for it. Very few graduates of DCU, University of Limerick, or other institutions cared whether they had a Senate vote or not. ”

    That last sentence is a staggering statement from a former Limerick TD. ULSU, for one, has sought this for a LONG time, including from 92-96 when I was an undergrad there. But better to pretend rather than accept, I suppose.

  • Brian Walker

    Pete and others, Such pressure as exists comes from elites but not the church, eg Fine Gael and Labour and stray comment in the Irish Times. I’ve suggested an amalgam of issues, not the single issue of Church vs State. It may be that the immediate focus has to loosen before a more general debate acquires much traction. Call me naive, but it would be amazing even in Ireland, if a debate didn’t build up significantly before the next election.

  • Munsterview


    this C.S.A victims mother is herself now a qualified lawyer and she even has a Masters Law degree and has specialized in constitutional law. She is regularly involved in assisting abuse victims and their relatives. She has even won cases for clients involving Cannon Law.

    Last year at the invitation of a Private Detective that I frequently worked with I attended a meeting with another C.S.A. abuse victim mother and some relatives. It quickly transpired that the victims mother was herself a high ranking member of management in one of the Health Boards.

    State interests were involved regarding the abuser. It had been made clear to her by top management that if she continued to continue her complaint they would regard it as a ‘Conflict Of Interest’ situation and she would have to resign her position. She was prepared to do that until I forcefully pointed out to her that however powerless she now was, being powerless and in poverty as an unemployed ( and unemployable ) was an even worse situation for her child and herself.

    Ironically, the same ‘case management’ procedures that she had implemented to control and neutralize Child Abuse Cases were now being used against her and she, even with all her insights and experience of the system, could do nothing.

    This Pip is the stark reality of the rotten core of this wretched State. If these two intelligent, experienced, resourceful and unintimidated, middle aged women are powerless what chance has the ordinary working class mother on a separated wife’s or lone parents allowance of getting a hearing, much less getting their problems addressed ?

    While all the spotlight is on the Church abuse only, we are not yet even discussing the much wider and more prevalent sectors of Child Sexual Abuse much less formulating solutions to the problem. In regard to these other sectors of ignored abuse we are back where the victims of Clerical abuse were fifteen years ago.

  • CatinHat

    “And, by the way, the only thing that Northern Ireland has to teach Ireland in regard to sex abuse in the Catholic Church is how to successfully ignore the problem by holding absolutely no public enquiries into it despite overwhelming evidence from Ireland that the same Church will have implemented the same policies in both jurisdiction, thereby producing the same victims pro-rata.”


    Well obviously not entirely pro-rata, since in most of the time period commonly under discussion Northern Ireland was only about one third Catholic in the first place.

  • Munsterview

    Surely this lady can go to the European courts? If the threat of ‘conflict of interest’ is held against her surely that is effectively constructive dismissal and she then has another charge against the state.

    She must not give up the whole subject is too important to allow it to be swept under the carpet (again) by those either involved, or too afraid to rock the boat.

  • Munsterview


    while I fully appreciate your concern is genuine, with the greatest of respect only those who have been involved at the cutting edge of assisting abuse victims to get exposure and accountability and those who opposed them on the State side knows just what is involved.

    Almost all legal cases against the State are about compensation and irrespective of how dirty the tactics of the State’s opposition to the victim had been, they will then pay from 20% of the settlement upwards for a non-disclosure agreement, which their Lawyers recommend the victims accept and the vast majority do,( even more dosh for the legals that way ). Yet more shameful silence bought at tax-payers expense!

    For these reasons the public seldom hear of the ongoing scale of Child Sexual Abuse or of how much further abuse the State side is prepared to pile on fragile victims in a cross examination. If it means cracking up a fragile victim on the witness stand and undoing years of therapy so be it, these State Lawyers will do it without a second thought…… and be congratulated by most of their professional friends on their ‘victory’

    Shortly before her assassination Veronica Gueirn in a deal with a Leading member of the Criminal Underworld, was given copies of the Child Sex Abuse files that were among others stolen by ‘The General’ from Government sources. They gave name, dates, victims etc of paedophile, pederasts and other abusers and general sexual perverts. Those listed ( as any such file in England or other European country would) named a complete cross section of people who wield power and influence in the State.

    A relative of Veronica’s confirmed this to a leading Private Detective known to me. She had, it seems quite a lot of this sex files material on her computer at the time of her assassination, they were deleted when her computer was returned to her family!

    All these ‘dirt’ files had been professionally collated by a leading politician to blackmail his way back into power, and once there the information was used to keep his opponents in his party and others blackmailed into silence. Veronica lasted less than two weeks from when she attempted to verify that information. Not too many criminals were on that list proportionate to the named power elites. Who in this State was best served by her killing and silence ?

    I have said before that this site is read by leading Politicians and State Intel agencies. They know that should my car end on a ditch and I have ‘an accident’ then leading Human Rights Lawyers in various parts of the U.S., in England and in the E.U. have instructions to release all documents send to them month on month since the mid-eighties. Others have had to take similar measures to protect themselves.

    Despite my attitude to the State and the establishment, I have given evidence ( and not for gain, I did not even take costs) to a Judicial Enquiry. I was requested by this enquiry not to disclose that I had officially appeared before it, never mind disclosing the evidence that I gave. Were I to disclose details I would simply alienate the trust of the ‘middle-ground’ decent elements that I rely on for information and assistance.

    As for E.U. Law and Judges, find out what kind of cases Mr. Justice O’Cuibhe, Dev’s grandson and current Government Minister, O’Cuibhe’s near cousin defended the State Interests in The High and Supreme Court prior to when he was appointed a Judge Of The Irish Superior Courts and later to an even more lucrative European Judicial Career in Europe by a grateful Government.

    I doubt very much that you will find too many of his fellow judges got to those European Judicial Benches by doing too much opposing of their National Governments either, if they did they would not be appointed in the first place ! Complain to Europe my A***

  • Alias

    [i]We hear “the oldies” running interference for the church.[/i]

    Very true. It’s a case of blame everything except the Church.

    But others have their sights set of reform of the Irish constitution for reasons unrelated to the matter at hand – they’re europhiles and a republican constitution does not integrate smoothly into an emergent single European state.

  • Munsterview


    ‘ We hear “the oldies” running interference for the church.’

    This particular ‘Oldie’ most definitely is not. However this Oldie also have been around long enough to recognize a dummy pass when one is thrown. Any attempt to broaden this debate to include all abusing sectors is countered by those opposed to such an all inclusive investigation as ‘ running interference for the Church’. Pray tell why?

    Not so, it is essential to keep the R.C. Church right there centre spotlight for quite some time yet until every Dioceses have done what the Dublin Dioceses have done at a minimum. In fact before doing the rest the Dublin enquiry itself should be examined, have all shortcomings eliminated and where necessary, be expanded before conducting enquires in the remainder.

    Back to all the other sectors not covered; let the R.C. Church remain centre spotlight, but broaden the beam to throw light in all other hidden paedophile, pederasty and any other forms of Adult/child sexual abuse out there. Include also the Eastern European Sex-Slaves, their suppliers and above all the regular ‘ Clients’ from respectable, well heeled, society without whom the so called Sex Trade could not exist.

    Let’s keep the ball rolling and get it all now while the public mood and appetite is there for such things!

  • Munsterview

    With respect, if Veronica Geurin can go public so can others. I am very aware of all you are saying and, more importantly, not saying! but she died for something/s. Surely such an appalling act should galvanise people.

    There are so many avenues of expression and disclosure now that if there is evidence it should be posted on line for all to see.

    I have no great opinion of the European Court, but it is another avenue to explore and just the taking of a case to court is usually enough to gain quite a bit of publicity.

  • Driftwood
  • Munsterview


    perhaps if her esteemed ‘Security Correspondents’ colleagues still in the press, stopped dining out collectively on the Town with the Garda top brass at public expense once a month or whenever they might be free to do their job and rip the lid off some of these things. Like the Harry Wheelan story the true facts are known but remain unpublished.

    You personally could send each of these ‘Security correspondents ‘ of the various papers an em asking them to confirm or deny the ‘ Dining Out’ with the Garda Top Brass on public expense at regular intervals story and the cost of the meals etc. and share the replies with us! Good Luck with it!

    There is a certain priest that some years back popped up in the media regularly and especially in the Irish Times to talk about C.S.A. and the shortcomings of the R.C. church. I had gone to this same man with a mother who spend over an hour pleading with him at his door ( he did not invite her in ) to act and stop a C.S.A. case where a near cousin of his was involved. He said he could not as it involved family!. She got nowhere.

    I then intervened and I said straight to him….

    “You are an Ordained Priest, I am appealing to you in the Name Of The Living Christ to stop this activity…..” His reply…… ” I will not be subjected to emotional blackmail by you or anybody else….” and he then closed the door on our faces.

    The religious affairs correspondence of the Irish Times was given all of this information by me after one long nauseating letter too many to the Times from this ‘Fr Suntan’. He confronted him and the priest concerned more or less confirmed the story, the alternative was to say that I was lying and he knew that I would sue him and use the court case to out the story.

    Just like the ‘Security Cors. and the Guards cosy circle, ( publicly confirmed by the Tribune Editor in U.L. some weeks ago) we have other cosy circles of vested interests operating in this country. Several journalists of all papers had stories of corruption during the housing bubble height but the subjects were spending millions in advertising, so time and again the Property Section editors of newspapers won out over News editors and stories were ignored.

    Given that there is only about three hundred people who really count in National affairs and that journalists are either acceptable to these en mass or they are simply shut out, I am not one bit surprised that most choose to ‘ Kiss Ass’ and that this corruption went unreported for so long or that so much rank corruption is still to be unexposed.

    If Michael McDowell, one of the most combative and assertive persons in politics, as Minister for Justice had to go the home of the Private Detective, Billy Flynn like a thief in the night to read copies of letters send to his own Justice Dep. over the years, what chance is there that a pussycat like Dermot Ahern can put manners on the same Department.

  • Munsterview

    You appear to be saying there is nothing anyone can do. I cannot accept that. I know you are fighting for the children and I wish you success in your battles, but it seems to me the quickest and best way to stop these cover ups is to publicise each case as much as possible.

  • Munsterview


    All my adult life I have exposed and wherever possibly, opposed all corruption including C.S.A. issues.

    I have paid a personal price for that, when ‘on the tools’ there was not one site that I worked on where my bosses were not visited by the Special Branch, when I secured my first Management position I had to go to the U.S. on a training program, my passport was then recalled and ‘lost’ for eight weeks until questions were asked in Linster house and it was then send special delivery, not to me but to the local garda station. I only got it when I tricked it out of a new guard on the counter.

    Later in my own business I was refused grants I was entitled to and subjected to all sorts of arbitrary inspections. I have won a few National and International Cultural Awards, yet was banned from radio, T.V. and effectively from Festival participation in my field as if I was given a platform and recognition then the committee got a reduced grant the next time round. I could go on but what is the point. Like all others who did I paid a price in my domestic,social and business life. To this day I have to carry a couple of phones and use one knowing that it is always tapped. As to the others, depending on who I have been talking to, the chips have to be changed as regularly as my underwear.

    Not that I am crying on anybody’s shoulder. Far from being brainwashed into Republicanism, the greyheads of my youth made sure I knew what to expect as I myself would now do with a young activist that I think would last the course.

    As to why nothing really changes, Upton Sinclair distilled the essence of the situation when he said

    ” It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it”

    This is reality.

  • Munsterview

    You paint a depressing picture. I am not, and please do not think I am, suggesting you and your colleagues have not worked and are not still working for the victims of abuse.

    I believe we will in time eradicate the institutional abuse. We cannot expect to eradicate prostitution nor will we be able to prevent abuse in the home, or the lone predatory paedophile, but I hope everyone continues to press for the maximum publicity and punishment in each case. Publicity is what will, eventually, destroy the secrecy the paedophiles and their ‘networks’ need to survive.