Friday, February 03, 2012

'Clontarf Report' _ Clarification

Reports in Irish Catholic and Irish Independent re: 'Vetting' of Civil Servants.

Recent reports in a number of news outlets have caused embarrassment and discomfort to my Labour Party colleagues and indeed to myself, in relation to the contents of the so-called 'Clontarf Report'. The reports suggest that I support religious screening of entrants into the Civil Service. I most certainly do not.

The Report actually deals with equality of access to the National School system in Ireland which was compiled by the Policy Sub-Group of Dublin North Central Constituency Council.

One of the recommendations in the 31 page report states: 'All senior official appointments in State bodies which are likely to have to deal with the Catholic Church should be screened to ensure that they will not show inappropriate deference to the Catholic Church.'

This recommendation was the 15th of 17 recommendations and I freely admit that it escaped my notice when first presented.

The drafters have since confirmed to me that they were attempting to address the following statement in the forward to the Ryan Report from then Minister Barry Andrews TD:

Foreward to the Ryan Commission Report 2009

It is now clear that our society was ordered in a way that permitted systematic and institutional neglect and abuse of children. Many different factors permitted this abuse to occur and to continue for so many years. The idealism of the Proclamation was suffocated by undue deference to religious orders and misplaced trust in certain persons in positions of authority.

Barry Andrews, TD Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

The recommendation was intended to address this issue of the 'undue deference' , but has caused understandable offence. I do not support or endorse this recommendation in any way and it will not appear in any motion at the National Labour Conference in April.

I support the thrust of the report because I believe a discussion about the relationship between all Churches and the State is now necessary as we re-assess all that has gone wrong in our nation over the last number of decades.

Such a debate should be constructive and respectful. This one unfortunately-worded recommendation in the 'Clontarf Report' has not helped in that regard.

We all strive to live in work in a democratic Republic with civil and religious liberty for all. That is what I and members of Dublin North Central Labour Party believe. My Christianity is important to me, and therefore I apologise if any unintended offence has been caused.

You heard it here - from the horse's mouth as it were - and I hope this clarifies matters.