Belfast Telegraph

Gilmore hits back in Vatican row

Ireland's deputy prime minister has accused the Vatican of missing the point after the Holy See rejected claims it had frustrated a state inquiry into clerical abuse.

Eamon Gilmore, Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister, said the real issue was that the Catholic Church did not deal effectively with paedophile priests.

Amid calls for Taoiseach Enda Kenny to explain why he accused the Vatican of interfering with investigations as recently as three years ago, Mr Gilmore refused to back down.

"I think it probably misses the point. There was the most horrific sexual abuse of children perpetrated by clerics. The Catholic Church did not deal with that as it should have dealt with it," he said.

"Let's not be distracted. Let's not miss the point - no less charges were made. The Taoiseach and the Government stand over what was said."

The deepening diplomatic row between the Government and the Vatican was sparked by fractured relations during an inquiry into the handling of child abuse allegations in the Cloyne Diocese in Cork.

The Taoiseach claimed in the Dail on July 20 that the Holy See attempted to frustrate an inquiry by warning the chairman to use diplomatic channels to seek answers from the Vatican.

The church in Rome responded on Saturday with a 25-page document rejecting accusations of interference, while Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin also called for an explanation.

But Mr Gilmore insisted: "When the Taoiseach spoke in the Dail, the Taoiseach was speaking for the Government and he was speaking I believe for the people of this country.

"The abuse of children is not acceptable. The abuse of children is intolerable. And those who didn't discharge their responsibility to make sure that it stopped, or that those who were responsible for it were brought to book, they have a case to answer and the Government makes no apology for stating that in the unambiguous terms that it was stated by the Taoiseach."

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