A failure to protect

The Irish Times

[Garda Inspectorate reports]

A REPORT by the Garda Inspectorate into consistent failures by members of the force to properly investigate, record and prosecute cases of child sex abuse makes for disturbing reading. An excessively deferential approach and a reluctance to apply for search warrants to secure church records are suggested as contributory factors. It sounds familiar. Hasn’t that kind of weak-kneed reaction to potentially illegal or criminal actions by senior church, business, banking and political individuals been tolerated for decades?

It is important to realise that this investigation was ordered in the aftermath of the Murphy report concerning clerical sex abuse in the Dublin archdiocese and it deals with criticisms of the Garda Síochána from 2009. The report was delivered in 2010, as public anger over denials and cover-ups by the Catholic hierarchy overflowed and a fresh investigation was launched in the Cloyne diocese. In the circumstances, withholding the document to avoid the Garda being caught up in public condemnations was understandable. The official reason given for the delay was “legal constraints”.

Poor management, indiscipline and inadequate Garda record-keeping has come under scrutiny in recent years. The Morris tribunal, which investigated corruption in Donegal, recommended the establishment of a Garda Inspectorate to review professional standards and to promote best international practice. In this case, it found that record-keeping was so poor that up to 65 per cent of sex crimes against children were not officially noted. Many were not recorded as criminal offences. And a poor level of co-operation existed between the Garda and the Health Service Executive in responding to abuse cases.

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