ACP Statement on appointment of Yvonne Murphy
Statement from the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP)
responding to the establishment of the Commission of Investigation
into Mother and Baby Homes and the appointment of Yvonne Murphy
The ACP welcomes the establishment of the Commission of Investigation into
Mother and Baby Homes. It is important that it be carried out competently,
justly and in strict accordance with guidelines to be laid down by the
government, which should reflect natural and constitutional justice.
The ACP notes the appointment of Judge Yvonne Murphy who chaired the Murphy
Commission into abuse in Dublin diocese.
It is also important to note that, in view of a report commissioned by the
ACP into procedural fairness in that investigation, Fergal Sweeney, an Irish
barrister who worked for many years as a judge in Hong Kong, concluded that
the Murphy Report contained significant deficiencies in terms of respecting
the demands of natural and constitutional justice.
Last October, the ACP published Fergal Sweeney’s findings. His conclusions
are on pages 37-39 of his document, which is on I this web-site.
The final point is as follows:
4.14 However, from the legal perspective it is difficult to avoid the conclusion
that insofar as the Catholic clerics who were called to testify were concerned,
the practices and procedures of the Murphy Commission fell far short
of meeting the concerns of the Law Reform Commission
and, more importantly, of natural and Constitutional justice.
In the light of the serious failings of the Murphy Commission, the ACP
suggests that Fergal Sweeney’s important and robustly argued conclusions
should be considered before the terms of reference for the investigation are
established and the necessity of following them is accepted.
Our concerns should not be interpreted as an attack on Judge Murphy, still
less an attempt to obstruct the investigation, but a concern that the new
Commission of Investigation should have the best possible team to carry out
the vital work.
The ACP is aware that Judge Murphy and the Murphy Commission are legally
debarred from any comment once they issued their Report but even though
strangely Fergal Sweeney’s study was largely ignored in the media and by the
legal profession, it is vital for the credibility of the enquiry that those
entrusted with investigating the Mother and Baby Homes should accept and
implement the guidelines laid down by the government. This is a matter not
just of natural justice but of judicial competence.
We would also hope that the Commission will avail of the expertise of social
scientists, especially anthropologists, to make sure that the cultural prism
through which we interpret present reality is not imposed on the past. Here
too competent historians must be consulted so that the Commission has an
accurate understanding of the historical reality at that period in Irish
history and of the various actors who were involved in the wider context of
the Mother and Child homes at the time.
Making the same mistakes twice, when people’s characters and reputations are
at stake, would be unconscionable.
Fergal Sweeney’s report can be found at
Sean McDonagh 087 236612
Brendan Hoban 086 6065055
Gerry O’Connor 087 2320295
Seamus Ahearne 087 6782746
Gerry Alwill 087 2305557