On Thursday, 15th January 2004, The Minister for Education and Science, Mr. Noel Dempsey, T.D., acting on behalf of the Government, published Judge Sean Ryan's Review into the working of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.
Decision of the Investigation Committee in relation to the Position Paper of 7th May 2004.
In its statement of 2nd September, 2003, the Commission announced its intention to issue an Interim Report in November 2003. The work on the preparation of the Report is still ongoing. It is anticipated that the work will be completed and that the Report will be ready for despatch to the printers during the second week of December, 2003. By that stage, the Commission, under the chairmanship of Ms. Justice Laffoy will have adopted the Report. Ms. Justice Laffoy's resignation will become effective from 12th December, 2003. Allowing for the Christmas holiday period, the estimated date of the publication of the Report is not later than 30th January, 2004. On the publication of the Report, it will be posted on the Commission's website.
The Commission has noted the announcement made by the Minister for Education and Science concerning the decision of the Government to engage in a further stage of the review of the remit of the Commission. It seems clear that, while no final decision has yet been made as to the precise alterations proposed to the Commission's Terms of Reference, some significant changes are being considered. These changes will affect the workings of the Investigation Committee. It seems highly probable that the work of the Investigation Committee will be altered in a way which will mean that some evidence now relevant will cease to be material to that Committee's remit. In those circumstances the Investigation Committee has decided that, for legal, practical and financial reasons, it would be wrong to continue with the gathering and assessment of evidence (including discovered material) some of which is likely to fall outside the scope of being relevant to the task which it will ultimately be asked to complete. The Commission has decided, therefore, that pending the announcement of the results of the Government's review, it will not use its power to gather further evidence and it will not plan for any further hearings of the Investigation Committee. Parties, whether Complainants or Respondents, should not commit any further resources to preparation for evidence gathering or hearing until the Investigation Committee has had an opportunity to consider the position in the light of the conclusions of the Government's review. All parties involved in the process of the Investigation Committee will be notified by letter of the implications of the Government decision as soon as reasonably possible. It is not understood that any alternation in the role of the Confidential Committee is under consideration. The Committee will carry out its functions as heretofore It is the Commission's intention to issue a further Interim Report in November 2003.
The Chairperson of the Commission has notified the Government today that she has decided to resign chairmanship of the Commission as soon as the Interim Report on the work of the Commission under its current mandate, announced in the statement of the Commission of 2nd September, 2003, is published. The reasons for the decision are outlined in her letter of 2nd September, 2003, to the Secretary General of the Government.
"A spokesperson for the Laffoy Commission - set up by the Government to investigate institutional child abuse - said a large number of abuse cases are been (sic) taken against the Sacred Heart schools Mary attended."
Having investigated the matter, the Commission is satisfied that no spokesperson for the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse made the statement attributed to the Commission. Furthermore, the author of the article did not seek from any person attached to the Commission any information whatsoever in relation to any matter the subject of the article.
It has come to the attention of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse that in an article headed "Secret Church - State Deal and the Four Folders" written by Mr. Bruce Arnold, which appeared in the edition of the Irish Independent published on 25th January, 2003, reference was made to the Commission in the context of comments in relation to Folder Four annexed to an Agreement dated 5th June 2002. In particular, the Commission has noted with concern the following statements in the article:
"Most extraordinarily of all, Folder Four contains the record number of 'each and every matter which is the subject matter of evidence to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (the Laffoy Commission)'.
It may reasonably be asked how this Laffoy Commission material, whether documents or records of documents, names or other details, jumps from the premises of the Commission into Folder Four…
Such a transfer from Laffoy to these unknown guardians, is not authorised by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act of 2000…
Of course, if the Church runs an effective intelligence service it could have internal knowledge of everything going before the Laffoy Commission, and it could now be in the process of sending copies of these individual cases to be included in Folder Four."
The Commission was not a party to the agreement referred to and had no involvement whatsoever with the compilation of Folder Four.
The Commission requested a copy of Folder Four from the Department of Education and Science. A copy was furnished by the Department to the Commission with a covering letter stating that "this Folder was provided to the Department of Education and Science by CORI". The Commission has examined Folder Four. It contains lists of complaints against sixteen of the eighteen Congregations of Religious identified in the index to Folder Four which were being investigated by the Investigation Committee at the time of the compilation of the lists. The only details contained in Folder Four in relation to the complaints listed are -
The reference number allocated by the Investigation Committee to the complaint,
The Congregation which managed the institution to which the complaint relates,
In some cases, the institution to which the complaint relates, and
In one case, the period to which some of the cases relate.
In relation to each complaint that information was obtained by the relevant congregation through the preliminary inquiry process being conducted by the Investigation Committee in relation to the complaint in accordance with the provisions of the Act of 2000. In the course of each preliminary inquiry, the congregation which managed the institution to which the complaint relates, is requested to provide a statement in writing of the evidence it proposes to give the Investigation Committee in relation to the complaint under the provisions of the Act of 2000 (section 23).
There has been no transfer of information from the Investigation Committee of the Commission to any person or body other than in strict compliance with the provisions of the Act of 2000. It is not apparent from Folder Four that there has been any breach by any person or body which has obtained information from the Investigation Committee in accordance with the provisions of the Act of 2000 of the confidentiality provisions which apply to the Investigation Committee.
The prohibition on disclosure of information provided to the Confidential Committee of the Commission contained in the Act of 2000 has been strictly enforced. No information as to the identity of the persons who have recounted or intend to recount their experiences to the Confidential Committee or the information they have given or intend to give has been divulged outside the Confidential Committee.