Death of Martin Ridge, Garda

Feb 7, 2022 | 3 comments

On Sunday Feb 6th, 2022 the death occurred, in Donegal, of Martin Ridge – the retired Garda detective who, with a colleague, investigated the prolific Catholic clerical abuser of boys in West Donegal in the closing decades of the 20th century, Eugene Greene.

Greene was subsequently convicted of serious charges in 2000, and given a twelve-year sentence. He died in 2018.

Deprived in those times of the resources needed to conduct such an investigation without a serious personal toll, Martin Ridge was permanently affected by the experience – and recounted the story in the 2008 book ‘Breaking the Silence‘.

Part of the burden Martin Ridge carried was the knowledge that some in Donegal mistakenly interpreted his work as hostile to the church – when it was in fact guided always by a deep Christian faith and sense of duty to innocent victims of gross injustice.

Speaking to the Donegal Daily newspaper in 2019, Martin Gallagher – one of Greene’s victims – declared:

“I no longer have any trust in the Catholic Church but I have my own faith and belief in God. I believe that Martin Ridge and his investigation stopped me from committing suicide and I owe him everything.”

In his homily at Martin Ridge’s funeral mass on February 8th, 2022, the main celebrant, an tAthair Brian Ó Fearraigh remarked:

“The hills and valleys, the sand dunes and sea shores of west Donegal might recall Detective Garda Martin Ridge, as he invited and listened to countless people and encouraged victims to share their story…as he appealed to hope, throughout those harrowing episodes of darkness and despair. When many others failed and even refused to act, even within the Church of Christ, who for too long, simply turned a complete blind eye, showing an abysmal and even cruel indifference for years. An Bleachtaire Mairtín Mac Con Iomaire always listened and acted, and became a beacon of hope, and support and encouragement and faith and freedom, not only to victims but also to their families, as he stood shoulder to shoulder with them, respected their life stories and experiences, and shone a light on a dark chapter of this community, our communities, county, and country’s shameful history. Mairtin Mhic Con Iomaire, who was brave, courageous and bold, even fearless in Breaking the Silence.”

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Paddy Ferry

    I read Breaking the Silence when it was published. I knew some of the people involved. I didn’t know that some people at home in Donegal had regarded his work as being hostile to the Church. God rest him.

    Beautiful homily by Fr. Ferry.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
  2. Hugh Roarty

    I too read Martin’s insightful & harrowing account of his investigation.

    Fortunately I’m not aware of knowing any of Fr Greene’s victims but I knew of people who donated to him after he had been charged. Sadly that was the level of indoctrination & influence the Catholic church held & hopefully not any longer.

    Reply
    • soconaill

      I recall an Irish News report of those donations, Hugh. As you say, we can hope that the superstition that an ordained man can do no wrong is dying out. That was never explicitly taught in the Catechism but it was certainly implied by the complete unaccountability of clergy for their actions and decisions. Breaking the Silence will be remembered as a watershed in the process of ‘getting real’.

      Reply

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ACI’s Campaign for Lumen Gentium 37

The Promise of Synodality

What we have experienced of synodality so far - and especially the presentation by Dr Nicola Brady on February 24th 2022 - gives ACI real hope that a longstanding structural injustice in the church may at last be acknowledged and overcome.

As all Irish bishops well know, the 'co-responsibility' they urge lay people to share - as numbers and energies of clergy decline - has been sabotaged time and again by canonical rules that deny representational authority and continuity to parish pastoral councils.  ACI's 2019 call for the immediate honouring of Lumen Gentium Article 37 becomes more urgent by the day and is supported by the following documents - also presented to the ICBC in October 2019.

The Common Priesthood of the People of God and the Renewal of the Church
It was Catholic parents and victims of clerical abuse who taught Catholic Bishops to prioritise the safeguarding of children in the church

Jesus as Model for the Common Priesthood of the People of God
It was for challenging religious hypocrisy and injustice that Jesus was accused and crucified. He is therefore a model for the common priesthood of the laity and for the challenging of injustice - in society and within the church.

A Suggested Strategy for the Recovery of the Irish and Western Catholic Church
Recovery of the church depends upon acknowledgment of the indispensable role of the common priesthood of the lay people of God and the explicit abandonment by bishops and clergy of paternalism and clericalism - the expectation of deference from lay people rather than honesty and integrity.

For the full story of ACI's campaign for the honouring of Article 37 of Lumen Gentium, click here.

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