VERY disturbed man who is always going to be dangerous. He could not be
let near schools, children, confession without a grille..."
That was the damning opinion contained in a 1988
psychiatrist’s report on former Dublin priest Tony Walsh.
He carried out
a catalogue of abuse over three decades which included tying up one boy
with his vestment ropes before raping him.
Yet it took until January
1996 before the Pope dismissed him as a priest.
Now, the full
shocking details of Walsh’s abuse over 15 years of dozens, if not
hundreds, of young children and the lengths the diocese went to in
covering up his crimes can be made public.
Thanks to a High
Court ruling, chapter 19 of the Commission of Inquiry’s Murphy Report
has finally been published. What it exposes is not just the extent of
Walsh’s depravity but also the fact that the hierarchy in the Dublin
Archdiocese were fully aware of the activities of the "serial" child
abuser 10 years before he was finally dismissed from the Church.
As the Commission of Inquiry, which authored the report, puts it: "The
welfare of children simply did not arise for consideration."
It lays the blame for the failure to stop Walsh on a number of people
both in the Church and in the gardaí.
As the chapter dedicated to Walsh
(or his alias Fr Jovito) in the Murphy report unfolds it becomes clear
dozens of priests were aware of Walsh’s behaviour and huge efforts were
being made to cover it up. That meant repeated refusals to present the
mounting history of abuse to gardaí.
The one person who is
praised in the report is then Archbishop Desmond Connell who finally
decided to have him laicised in spite of concerted pressure from his own
senior advisers and even from Rome.
Turning to the gardaí,
the commission said it was "unacceptable" that two gardaí who had
concerns about Walsh in 1990 and in 1992 failed to pursue a thorough
"When a criminal investigation of
sorts got under way in 1991, it was effectively shelved because the
Church was carrying out its own penal process," it said.
December 6 this year, the former Dublin priest was sentenced to 16
years in prison for abusing three young boys in the 1970s and 1980s. The
final four years of the sentence were suspended.
Archdiocese of Dublin failed the victims of Tony Walsh and their
families," said Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin last night. "The
archdiocese did not follow up its own commitment to stop the abuse.
"Tony Walsh was left in ministry, he was reassigned — he remained in
contact with children, using his priestly dress and his membership of a
priests’ show, where he was shown off as a priest, giving him constant
access to young people.
"Unfortunately, some priests mistakenly supported his remaining in ministry."
One in Four executive director Maeve Lewis said: "We have been
contacted by people who are distraught at the realisation that they were
sexually abused long after the Catholic Church knew the dangers Tony
Walsh posed to children. Their lives have been devastated because the
archdiocese chose to recklessly endanger children."