A recent report by the Garda Inspectorate found that up to 65% of child sexual offences examined in a sample of Garda records were not included in the official crime figures.
An excessively deferential approach and a reluctance to apply for search warrants to secure church records were suggested as contributory factors
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan responded to the report by saying that the force had given ‘huge attention’ to improving its handling of child sexual abuse investigations.
This is the standard response when serious failures are revealed within the Garda, the political system, the church or the financial sector.
Mistakes were made in the past but now everything is rosy in the garden – until the next failure, the next scandal.
While the media is, by far, the most effective force in bringing state authorities to account there are occasions when sections of the media do get things wrong.
An Irish Times editorial in response to the Garda Inspectorate report tells us (My emphasis):
It is important to realise that this investigation was ordered in the aftermath of the Murphy report concerning clerical sex abuse in the Dublin archdiocese and it deals with criticisms of the Garda Síochána from 2009.
The report was delivered in 2010, as public anger over denials and cover-ups by the Catholic hierarchy overflowed and a fresh investigation was launched in the Cloyne diocese.
In the circumstances, withholding the document to avoid the Garda being caught up in public condemnations was understandable.
It is, of course, neither understandable nor acceptable that information should be withheld to save any state institution from being the subject of public odium.
The expression of public anger in response to state failures is a crucial element in a healthy democracy.