Inquiry The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation (Murphy Report)

Alternative Names
  • Murphy Report
Inquiry Type
Statutory Inquiry (Commission of Investigation)
Dublin; Ireland

Key Dates

1975 - 2004
Period of investigation
2006 - 2009
Period of operation
28 March 2006
Announcement date
Final Report


The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation was established to report on the handling by Church and State authorities of allegations or complaints of child sexual abuse made against clergy operating in the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin and the response to such cases. The Commission examined a representative sample of allegations and suspicions of child sexual abuse against clerics over the period 1975 to 2004.

The Commission examined cases involving 46 priests (a representative sample of 102 within remit) and identified 320 people who had complained between 1975 and 2004. Between 2004 and the end of the Commission in 2009, a further 130 complaints were made against priests in the Dublin Archdiocese.

The Commission's Report was published soon after the Ryan Report in 2009.

The Process
The Commission conducted its investigation by means of oral evidence and in-depth analysis of the documentation supplied by Church and State authorities. In addition, it carried out research into canon law and civil law relating to child abuse and legal matters. The Commission also considered reports into clerical abuse from Ireland, the UK and the USA.

The Commission of Investigation held 145 formal hearings to obtain oral evidence in relation to the administrative structures of Church, public and State authorities. The focus of these hearings was on how complaints, allegations or suspicions of child sexual abuse were handled generally by the various authorities throughout the relevant period. The Commission also heard evidence on canon law during this phase of The Inquiry. All people who came forward to the Inquiry and who fell under its remit were interviewed and many also gave formal evidence to the Commission.

Under the Commissions of Investigation Act (2004), Orders of Discovery were issued against the Dublin Archdiocese, the Health Service Executive (HSE), an Garda Síochána, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), a number of religious orders whose priests worked under the aegis of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin and a number of other organisations. The Discovery process yielded more than 100,000 documents.

Legal research was also undertaken.

Governing Legislation
Commissions of Investigation Act 2004

Private Sessions
Interviews were conducted with complainants and formal hearings were held in private with Church and State representatives.

Case Studies
Depending on the meaning of "case study" - it focused on 46 priests, so those cases could be considered "case studies"

Research into child abuse and legal matters.

It is stated that the Commission received complaints in respect of over 320 children against the 46 priests in the representative sample.

The Commission examined complaints in respect of over 320 children against the 46 priests in the representative sample. Substantially more of the complaints relate to boys - the ratio is 2.3 boys to 1 girl.

Institutions addressed in the inquiry were churches and schools, children's homes were not included .

The Inquiry found that child sexual abuse was widespread throughout the period under review (1974-2004). The Inquiry did not accept the claim of Church authorities to have known little about child sexual abuse prior to the 1990s. It found the approach of the Church to dealing with child sexual abuse was "the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets" (Murphy Report, 2009, p.4).

The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation had no specific remit to make recommendations.

It is noted that the "The total cost of the Commission‟s work to 30 April 2009 was €3.6 million. This does not include third party costs" (p. 42)

Inquiry Panel



Final Reports

See also

Acknowledgement: this summary was prepared by Katie Wright, La Trobe University