Sunday, November 29, 2009

No shield for ‘conniving’ gardaí

ONE of the Garda’s top investigators is to examine whether gardaí, and other state officials, committed criminal offences in their handling of child sex abuse cases examined in the Murphy report.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney will assemble a team of detectives to sift through the 700-page Murphy report and conduct follow-on investigations.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy yesterday announced the review following disturbing findings in the report, including:

- Inappropriate relationships between two chief superintendents (since retired) and priests and bishops in two cases (Fr X and Fr Carney).

- A "totally inappropriate" relationship between former Garda Commissioner Daniel Costigan and Archbishop Charles John McQuaid in 1960 (Fr Edmondus).

- A "shocking" level of "connivance" by gardaí in failing to investigate a complaint and allowing the suspect to leave the country (Fr X).

An analysis by the Irish Examiner shows the commission was highly critical of gardaí in six cases (see below), out of the 46 cases examined, and made indirect criticisms in two other cases. Of the remaining cases, the commission said the gardaí acted appropriately in 20 investigations, and in a number of them praised the thoroughness of the investigation.

In the remaining 17 cases, there was either no comment of the gardaí or the gardaí were not involved.

There are a number of unidentified gardaí mentioned in several cases (Fr Ioannes, Fr X, Fr Donal Gallagher, Fr Septembus) who are criticised.

In his statement yesterday, Commissioner Murphy said: "I am asking AC John O’Mahoney to examine the findings of the report relating to the handling of complaints and investigations by both Church and State authorities, to carry out such investigations and inquiries as he deems appropriate and to make a report to me with his recommendations. I will then consult with the Director of Public Prosecutions as to what issues arise in the context of criminal liability."

The commissioner added: "The Commission has identified failings on the part of both Church and State authorities in their response to complaints of child sexual abuse. The focus of this examination will be to establish whether those failings amounted to criminal behaviour."

It is not clear how many gardaí implicated in the six cases are still working in the force. It is also not clear whether internal disciplinary action could stem from the AC’s report in situations where no criminal offence has been identified.

The commissioner said the Garda Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, which was praised by the Murphy report, had submitted a number of files to the DPP, who was directed prosecutions be taken.

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