"Mentality" to protect the bishop at all costs

A CATHOLIC school principal has told an inquiry there was a mentality and culture operating in the Toowoomba Diocese that the bishop must be protected at all costs.

Dan McMahon, the current principal of Shalom College in Bundaberg, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Brisbane on Friday that student protection did not come first.

"The phrase not to compromise the bishop was used regularly," he said.

"It was a justification for diocesan processes on all sorts of things.

"When I, as a principal, would sometimes think or ask why do we have to go through so many hurdles to do something or to make a decision, often the reason was we did not want to compromise the bishop because he is the ultimate employer.

"It was certainly not just about student protection.

"It was the way the Catholic Education Office operated to make sure the bishop, as the ultimate employer in the dioceses, was protected and that was John Borserio's ultimate role."

Barrister Jane Needham, representing the Toowoomba Diocese, asked why Mr McMahon decided to make a submission.

"I was very conscious since 2008 of the process that went on and I gleaned regrettably most of the information about this issue from the Courier Mail which I know not to be the most accurate," Mr McMahon said.

Ms Needham asked Mr McMahon whether he made the submission to the Royal Commission to assist his friend Terence Michael Hayes, the former principal at the Toowoomba primary school.

"Ms Needham, I am a friend of Mr Borserio who is sitting behind you who is the head of the Catholic Education Office too," he said.

"The fact I am a friend of Mr Hayes does not influence the fact that I thought my information was pertinent to the commission."

Mr McMahon denied he colluded with Mr Hayes over the submission but admitted he spoke with him about it.

Under further questioning from Ms Needham he said he had never seen anything in writing which allowed a report to the senior education officer to be override mandatory reporting obligations.

"There was a sense and a culture within the diocese that came from the office that anything significant we should discuss with our senior education officers." Mr McMahon said.

Bill Ahern, a former principal at Mater Dei in Toowoomba, was also a late addition to the people set down to give evidence before the commission.

Both men appeared via videolink.

Due to extra witnesses being called to give evidence at the commission hearings will continue into next week.

Former Toowoomba Bishop William Morris will be the last person to give evidence to the commission.

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