7 December 2010
Statement of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on sentencing of Tony Walsh
Tony Walsh, a former priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin was sentenced today for the grievous sexual abuse of three people when they were still only children. My first thoughts go to these victims and their families. I hope that the finality of the legal process will help bring them some sense of justice, of healing, of closure and hope for the future.
Tony Walsh, however, abused many more children, the numbers are truly shocking. For some of these he has already served sentence. He caused untold destruction in the lives of numerous children. Today’s news will sadly have re-ignited the ordeal of many of his victims.
The Archdiocese of Dublin failed these children. It was too slow in recognising that Tony Walsh was a predatory paedophile. When the extent of his paedophile activity was identified this dangerous man was allowed to continue in ministry for many years with the consequent damage visited on children. We now know he may have been abusing children even during his seminary formation. He was finally dismissed from the priesthood on the insistence of Cardinal Desmond Connell. It was a tragedy however, that Tony Walsh was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin and thus had privileged access to children.
I can only unreservedly apologise to the victims of this man for what they endured and for the way in which the diocese failed them.
The fact that Tony Walsh was allowed to minister as a priest long after his paedophilia was identified is also a tragedy for good priests in Dublin whose vocation and life’s work in the name of the Gospel was tarnished.
The Archdiocese of Dublin is committed to doing everything possible to ensure that no-one like Tony Walsh would ever be allowed to minister in Dublin again. There is no room for compromise when dealing with predatory paedophiles. There can be no going back on the robust child safeguarding norms adopted by the Irish Church.
It is crucial that any victims of abuse who have not received help talk to the Gardai, or the HSE, to the Safeguarding and Child Protection Service of the Archdiocese or to a counsellor or service of their choice.
The Safeguarding and Child Protection service of the Archdiocese of Dublin can be contacted on 01 836031
Communications Office 01 -8360723, e mail [email protected], web www.dublindiocese.ie