At 51, the new Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh will, on installation in coming months, be the youngest Catholic bishop and archbishop in Ireland.
With honours degrees in mathematical science from NUI
Maynooth, in divinity from St Patrick’s College there, and a master’s
degree in philosophy from Cambridge University, he is eminently
qualified academically to be titular head of the Catholic Church on the
However, of much more importance than academic prowess in
these times, is his track record in dealing with child protection at the
Since June 2011 he has been a director of the
church’s child protection watchdog, its National Board for Safeguarding
In November 2011, on publication of an NBSC
report which was damning of Derry diocese’s handling of clerical child
sex abuse allegations between 1975 and 2011, Msgr Martin was
At a press conference in the city to launch the
report he said past decisions, including non-disclosure of allegations
to civil authorities, were taken by bishops themselves.
decisions with regards to the use of child safeguarding are taken at the
very top of the authorities in the church in the diocese,” he said.
who the bishops were at the relevant times in Derry diocese, he
responded: “Bishop Hegarty, Bishop Daly and Bishop Farren. The then
bishop was responsible for taking these decisions.”
people abused by priests in the diocese he said: “No matter how
positive this report may be about current practice, nothing can take
away the awful wrong that was done to you. You trusted members of
the church before and you had that trust terribly betrayed. Your
dignity was violated. Your self-belief and your self-esteem were
battered. Your spirit was crushed. The terrible things that
happened to you can leave a wound and scar that doesn’t go away. When
some of you got the courage to tell your story, no one really listened
or took you seriously. I am truly sorry at what happened to you
and ashamed at the way you were treated ... There can be no going back
to a time when the welfare of children and young people was not
Msgr Martin has also been active where proposed abortion legislation in the Republic is concerned.
December 4th last he took part with colleagues from the Irish Episcopal
Conference in an anti-abortion street protest outside Leinster House
against such proposed legislation.
He is one of a family of 12, six boys and six girls, reared in the Pennyburn area of Derry city.
His mother, Catherine, whose birthday was yesterday, still lives in the city but his father, James, died in 2006.
Born on October 30th, 1961, Msgr Martin was ordained in St Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry, on June 28th, 1987.
In September that year he was appointed assistant priest in Derry’s Templemore parish.
joined the teaching staff of St Columb’s College, Derry, in September
1990 and in May 2000 became college president there.
In June 2008 he was
appointed executive secretary to the Irish Episcopal Conference in
In June 2010 he was appointed vicar general of Derry
diocese and on November 25th 2010 was elected diocesan administrator
His interests include music, particularly choral and classical
music, as well as liturgical music generally.
He also enjoys walking and