Archbishop Martin takes lead on communications Michael Kelly

Leader-in-waiting of the Church in Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin has taken up a new lead role in the Church’s communications strategy. Dr Martin, who is currently shadowing Cardinal Seán Brady as coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, spearheaded the Church’s campaign against Enda Kenny’s recent abortion legislation. He has undertaken a number of high-profile media interviews in recent times and is acknowledged to have emerged as a competent media performer.

It is understood that Archbishop Martin, a former executive secretary of the bishops’ conference, had become increasingly concerned that the Church was not getting its message across in an appropriate fashion.

He recently took the lead at Maynooth by taking over the hierarchy’s Commission for Planning Communications and Resources. At the same time he became a member of the Council for Communications which directs the Church’s media strategy.

Archbishop Martin, The Irish Catholic understands, is keen that the Church would have a greater presence in and availability to the media. Both Archbishop Martin and the recently-appointed Bishop of Limerick Dr Brendan Leahy have been keen to accept media requests.

Both men are anxious that the Church’s voice should be presented in the media in a respectful but unashamed fashion. They have expressed the concern that a Church spokesperson has often been absent from key discussions in the past allowing those hostile to the Church to set the agenda. Sources in Maynooth confirmed to The Irish Catholic that they sense a new openness to the media.

Meanwhile, Bishop of Killaloe Kieran O’Reilly has taken over as Episcopal Secretary of the hierarchy. He replaced the long-serving Bishop of Waterford William Lee who previously held the role of co-ordinating the agenda of the bishops’ conference.

Cardinal Brady is not due to retire until he turns 75 in August 2014. Archbishop Martin is reportedly keen to use this run-in time to work hard on ensuring that the Church’s structures are up to speed.