'Late Hate Show' over the bishop's baby

ANNIE MURPHY, the American woman deserted with their young son by the former Roman Catholic bishop Eamonn Casey, this weekend confronted her fiercest critics - the religious faithful of Ireland.

Ms Murphy was in Dublin to promote Forbidden Fruit, the book about the relationship she has co-written with Peter de Rossa. At a news conference yesterday she displayed a quick wit. Asked if they had never thought of using contraceptives during their affair, she replied: 'Eamonn certainly didn't'

Bishop Casey, in the Seventies, was one of the Catholic hierarchy's most conservative figures. 'What was he going to say? He didn't believe in it. You're playing Russian roulette. A bullet was going off and someone was going to get hit.'

Ms Murphy's worst ordeal came in a hostile interview on Irish television's The Late Late Show on Friday. At one point she was shouted down by a group of Bishop Casey's supporters in the studio audience. Switchboards at RTE television, newspapers and local exchanges were jammed afterwards by callers angered at her treatment. The front page of one Irish newspaper yesterday dubbed it 'The Late Hate Show'. The programme is due to be screened by Channel 4 tomorrow.

At one point, the show's presenter, Gay Byrne, said that if Ms Murphy's son Peter turned out to be 'half as good a man as his father, he won't do too badly'. She declined to be drawn into attacking the man who refused to acknowledge his son for almost 20 years. With dignity she replied: 'I'm not so bad, Mr Byrne, not so bad as you'd like to think.'

Mr Byrne claimed that Bishop Casey must have pressed her to have the child adopted only because he believed she could not bring him up properly. She asked him: 'And how do you know that?' Mr Byrne replied: 'I just know that.' RTE said that other people claimed that it was immoral to have Ms Murphy on the show at all. Attempts to stop the broadcast included a bomb hoax.

Ms Murphy, who looked tired and drawn, said her ex-lover was 'a great man with defects'. Yesterday she added: 'There will always be a part of me that will remember a tremendous amount of love and affection'.

To get her to give up the baby for adoption, Bishop Casey had 'harangued and bothered me to the point where I could never have another child'.

Asked if he she would accept if Bishop Casey now proposed marriage, she said: 'I think that's very unlikely. . . . That's a very hard question.'