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McGuinness meets Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor

21 January, 2011 - by Westminster

Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP, MLA has met Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, the Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, in relation to the implementation of safeguarding arrangements in the Catholic Church to ensure that this abuse can never be allowed to happen again.

The Cardinal is one of four clergy appointed by the Pope to undertake an Apostolic Visitation to Ireland in relation to the handling of child abuse cases involving clerics, as announced in his pastoral letter to Irish Catholics last March.  The Cardinal’s Visitation is focusing on the Archdiocese of Armagh.

The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said he welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Apostolic Visitor and to discuss a range of issues in relation to historical child abuse.

Speaking following the meeting Mr McGuinness said:

“The abuse of many children and vulnerable young people in institutions over many years and the totally insensitive manner in which this was dealt with has cast a dark cloud over Irish society.

“There is an onus on us all to ensure that this abuse can never be allowed to happen again and that necessary safeguarding arrangements are put in place to guarantee protection for those who are greatest at risk.

“The Papal initiative is an important part of the process of putting the needs of victims’ first.  Those who have perpetrated such heinous crimes must not be protected, but must be subject to the full rigours of the legal process.”

Martin McGuinness also referred to the recent announcement by the Executive to set up an interdepartmental taskforce into institutional abuse.

“Before Christmas the Executive agreed to hold its own inquiry into institutional child abuse and have established an interdepartmental taskforce to establish the nature and scope of this inquiry. I welcomed the opportunity to update the cardinal on developments and our discussions will no doubt help to inform this debate. 

“While it is imperative that this can be brought to a conclusion as soon as possible, it is also important that the process is got right and that victims’ are not subject to further and unnecessary suffering. 

“The needs of victims’ and their desire for closure is and will continue to be the over-arching focus of attention throughout the entire process.  Those who have suffered abuse will be consulted on the terms of reference for the inquiry.” 

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