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The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) in Ireland has criticised the decision to appoint Judge Yvonne Murphy to oversee the Commission of Investigation into Irish mother and baby homes.
In a statement the priests’ association said it welcomed the commission of investigation, which will examine whether 796 babies and children died at the Tuam home for unmarried mothers and their young children between 1925 and 1961 following media reports last month that human remains had been found in a septic tank next to the site of a now-demolished home.
However, the ACP said it is concerned that commission will be overseen by the judge who previously led the commission of investigation into the mishandling of clerical child sex abuse allegations in the Dublin archdiocese between 1975 and 2004. This resulted in the 2009 Murphy Report, which a spokesman for the ACP, Fr Sean McDonagh, said had "serious failings".
Fr McDonagh highlighted criticisms of the Murphy Commission listed in a review of its operation by barrister Fergal Sweeney last year.
It flagged concerns over the procedural fairness and concluded that the commission contained significant deficiencies in terms of respecting the demands of natural and constitutional justice.
Fr McDonagh said, “In the light of the serious failings of the Murphy Commission,” the ACP wants Fergal Sweeney’s conclusions considered before the terms of reference for the investigation into mother and baby homes are established.
He said his association’s criticism of Judge Murphy was “not personal” and should not be interpreted as an attack on Judge Murphy, “still less an attempt to obstruct the investigation”.