Delivery of Ferns Report Imminent

By Patsy McGarry
One in Four [Ireland]
October 10, 2005

The much-anticipated report of the Ferns inquiry into the handling of clerical sex abuse allegations in that diocese is not expected to be delivered to the Department of Health until the end of this week. It is then expected to be referred it to the Attorney General.

There are concerns that perpetrators of abuse should not be identifiable from evidence recorded in the report, which could expose the State to legal action. The lengthy document is expected to be with the Attorney General's office for some time.

Under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Frank Murphy, the inquiry was set up following an investigation by George Birmingham SC into how allegations of clerical sex abuse in Ferns might best be inquired into by the State.

Mr Birmingham was asked to do so in April 2003 following the resignation of Bishop Brendan Comiskey, which followed a broadcast of the BBC Suing the Pope programme on child sex abuse in Ferns diocese.

The inquiry began hearings in September 2003. It also investigated claims related to allegations from the early 1980s by seminarians at Maynooth against the former president of St Patrick's College, Dr Micheál Ledwith, then a priest of Ferns diocese.

A report conducted for the 17 trustee bishops at the seminary, published last June, led to them apologising to a former dean there, Fr Gerard McGinnity, whose career was seriously damaged when he acted on the seminarians' concerns. Fr McGinnity did not co-operate with the Maynooth investigation nor did most of the relevant seminarians. However, they and Fr McGinnity gave evidence to the Ferns inquiry.


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