Monday, September 29, 2008

Volume of victims hampers abuse commission

The commission set up to investigate clerical child sexual abuse in Dublin Archdiocese has failed to meet its deadline for a second time, due to the number of alleged victims making contact with the investigating team.

The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation was due to conclude its work by the end of next week, but is now set to enter into its fourth year of operation.

The government granted it a last-minute reprieve last week, when the cabinet approved an extension of the commission’s work to the end of January 2009.

It is understood that the delay is related to the increasing numbers of alleged victims who are making contact with the commission on a weekly basis.

One well-placed source close to the investigation described the scale of the abuse allegations being dealt with as ‘‘far beyond what was encountered in the Ferns Inquiry’’.

The commission, which is headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, is investigating how the Archdiocese handled allegations of clerical child abuse between January 1,1975 and May 1, 2004.

Allegations of sexual abuse have been made against more than 100 priests who served in the archdiocese.

In response, the government set up the commission to examine the handling of allegations. As part of its extensive investigation, the commission is examining more than 66,500 documents submitted to the commission in January last by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin.

The documents relate primarily to the working life of more than 40 priests whose cases were selected for a sample review by the commission.

A spokesman for the commission confirmed to The Sunday Business Post last week that it had sought an extension on its deadline, while a formal notification of the new deadline was published in the state journal, Iris Oifigiúil, last Friday.

Martin had received prior indication of the delay. Former Dublin archbishop Cardinal Desmond Connell challenged the commission’s access to certain documents earlier this year, but later withdrew his High Court action.
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(Source: SBP)

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