Minister announces start of Commission of Investigation into the Dublin Archdiocese

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Michael McDowell T.D., has announced that the Government has today:

  • made the Order establishing the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation;
  • approved the appointment of members of the Commission; and
  • approved the final Terms of Reference and Statement of Costs of the Commission with timeframe for reporting.

Firstly, the Commission, chaired by Circuit Court Judge Yvonne Murphy, will investigate the handling of allegations or complaints of child sexual abuse made against clergy operating under the aegis of the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin and the response to such cases. 

Secondly, the commission will investigate the position in any Catholic diocese in the State, following a notification from the Minister for Children that that diocese may not be implementing Church guidelines in relation to child sexual abuse by a priest or religious, or a notification that a diocese may not be implementing satisfactorily the recommendations of the Ferns report.      

The Commission's proposed terms of reference are attached.  It is envisaged that the Commission will submit a final report to the Minister in 18 months at the latest.

As required by the provisions of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, the terms of reference will now be published in Iris Oifigiuil, together with a statement of costs and the timeframe for submission of the final report to the Minister.

Judge Yvonne Murphy of the Circuit Court will Chair the Commission.  She will be assisted by Ms Ita Mangan B.A., B.L. and Mr Hugh O'Neill, Solicitor as members.

Provision has been made in the Vote of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to meet the Commission's costs which are projected at approx 4.5 million Euro over the full term.  

28 March, 2006

 

Terms of Reference

(a) select a representative sample of complaints or allegations of child sexual abuse made to the archdiocesan and other Catholic Church authorities and public and State authorities in the period 1 January 1975 to 1 May 2004 against Catholic clergy operating under the aegis of the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin; 

(b) examine and report on the nature of the response to those sample complaints or allegations on the part of the authorities to which those sample complaints or allegations were reported, including whether there is any evidence of attempts on the part of those authorities to obstruct, prevent or interfere with the proper investigation of such complaints;

(c) in the case of complaints or allegations being examined, examine and report also on the nature of the response to any other complaints or allegations made by the complainant or against the person in respect of whom those complaints or allegations were made, including any such complaints or allegations made before 1 January 1975; 

(d) select a representative sample of cases where the archdiocesan and other Catholic Church and public and State authorities had in the period 1 January 1975 to 1 May 2004 knowledge of or strong and clear suspicion of or reasonable concern regarding sexual abuse involving Catholic clergy operating under the aegis of the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin;  

(e) establish the response of the archdiocesan and other Catholic Church and public and State authorities to those sample cases;

(f) establish the levels of communication that prevailed between the archdiocesan and other Catholic Church authorities and public and State authorities with regard to those sample complaints, allegations, knowledge, reasonable concern or strong and clear suspicion;

(g) examine, following a notification from the Minister for Health and Children that a Catholic diocese in the State may not have established the structures or may not be operating satisfactorily the procedures set out in the Report of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Advisory Committee on Child Sexual Abuse by Priests and Religious, Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response (1996) and any subsequent similar document, the position in that diocese;

(h) examine, following a notification from the Minister for Health and Children that a Catholic diocese in the State may not be implementing satisfactorily the recommendations of the Ferns Report delivered to the Minister for Health and Children on 25 October, 2005, the position in that diocese; and make a report on these matters considered by the Government to be of significant public concern.