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Irish media hostile to Catholics, says ex PSNI watchdog chief O'Loan

By Cate McCurry

Published 19/04/2016

Attack: Nuala O’Loan
Attack: Nuala O’Loan

Former Police Ombudsman Baroness Nuala O'Loan has criticised the media in the Republic for driving an anti-Catholic agenda.

Speaking in Boston College, Baroness O'Loan said "in a country in which the media was once sympathetic to the Catholic Church, it is now aggressively hostile".

In her weekend address at the Faith in the Future: Religion in Ireland in the 21st century conference organised by the US college's centre for Irish programmes, she lambasted the Irish media.

"Papers like The Irish Times now run columns in which things are said about and imputed to Catholics which would not be tolerated in the context of Islam or Judaism, or of homosexuals or humanists," she said.

"Journalists seem, on occasion, to have abandoned the careful, nuanced use of language in favour of wild sweeping assertions which fuel the lack of understanding of what Catholicism is about, and encourage virulent anti-Catholicism."

Baroness O'Loan acknowledged that it was the media which ultimately forced the Church and State to begin to deal with child sexual abuse in Ireland.

"It became open season for the media though," she said. "This led to a situation of profound injustice, as the normal protections of the law, in terms of the assumption of innocence until guilt was proved were abandoned.

"The victim had to be believed, so the priest must be lying in his denials.

"Some were, but some weren't lying.

"Men who had done no wrong were not, and in some cases still are not, properly treated during the period of investigation." Baroness O'Loan, who was Northern Ireland's first Police Ombudsman from 1999 to 2007, is known for strongly defending her faith.

She previously resigned from the British Medical Association's medical ethics committee over its support for extending the UK abortion law here in 2014.

Baroness O'Loan, who is married to Ballymena SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan, also attended the Church of Our Lady at Harryville at the height of a loyalist protest.

The demonstrations from 1996 to 1998 were in response to nationalist objections to Orange Order parades through Dunloy, and often turned violent.

In her previous role as Police Ombudsman, Baroness O'Loan highlighted collusion between police officers and what she described as serial killers in loyalist terror groups.

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