Distinguished Speakers Program: Judge Yvonne Murphy (FULL)

4 March 2013

This lecture is fully booked, please email to be placed on the waitlist


Child abuse and child sexual abuse: The Irish experience

The tsunami of clerical child abuse disclosed since the mid-1990s has had a particularly dramatic effect in Ireland, historically a Catholic country with an observance rate of 95%.

Though there is still a considerable cohort of loyal Catholics, such as former President Mary McAleese, the scandals have broken the Church's grip on the population generally, with precipitous falls in observance and the recruitment of priests.

By the Commission of Investigation Act 2004, the Irish State set up two Tribunals or Commission of Inquiry, one into Abuse in Residential Institutions, and one into sexual abuse by clerics in the Dublin and, later, the Cloyne (Co Cork) dioceses. Judge Yvonne Murphy headed up both of these Commissions.

In the 2009 Report on the Commission's investigations, the so-called Murphy Report, the Institutional Catholic Church was found to have been highly evasive, obsessed with the protection of its assets and reputation, prone more to offenders rather than to addressing their propensities. The Church's defence, that the Institution was "on a learning curve was comprehensively rejected. The Murphy Report was described by Professor Ronan Fanning, a highly respected Professor of History at University College, Dublin, as "a truly historic landmark". A number of prelates, including John Magee, Bishop of Cloyne, resigned following the publication of the Report.

More optimistically, there was a high level of co-operation by Church Authorities with the Commission and rigid codes of practice on the treatment of children have been implemented. However a steady stream of criminal cases continues to afflict the Church, whose future remains uncertain.

Judge Murphy will discuss the techniques of the investigations and the legal and other difficulties encountered during them.

About the speaker

Yvonne Murphy served as a judge of the Circuit Court in Ireland between 1998 and 2012. This is an intermediate Trial Court in Civil, Criminal, Family and Tax cases. She is best known in Ireland as the Chair of the Government appointed Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse in two Roman Catholic dioceses in Ireland, Dublin and Cloyne, Co. Cork (2006 - 2009). The Commissions' two Reports were widely credited in Ireland and abroad as having had an impact of historic dimensions.

Yvonne is a former Vice-Chair of the Employment Equality Agency and the Employment Appeals Tribunal in Ireland.

Yvonne Murphy was born in rural Ireland and educated at boarding school in Co. Mayo, University College Dublin, and the Honorable Society of the Kings Inns where she qualified as a barrister. She is also a member of the Bars of England and Wales (Middle Temple) and of Northern Ireland (Inn of Court of Northern Ireland).

While in practice at the Bar she was Editor of the Irish Times Law Reports and authored two books, one on Insider Dealing, and the other on Defamation. The latter went into a third edition last year.

Lawyers/barristers: attendance at this seminar is equal to 1 MCLE/CPD unit.

Full Fee $25; SLS Alumni $20; USyd Student $10

Time: 6 - 7pm followed by a cocktail reception (registration from 5.30pm)

Location: Common Room, Level 4, New Law School Building (F10), Eastern Ave University of Sydney

Cost: FULLY BOOKED. Please email to be placed on the waitlist

Contact: PLaCE Coordinator

Phone: 02 9351 0429

Email: 5b1326171d0e4a3924152316322219331017230c1265581a