Church watchdog chief supported
THE CHAIRMAN of the Catholic Church’s child protection watchdog, its National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC), has spoken out in support of its chief executive, Ian Elliott.
Speaking to The Irish Times yesterday, John Morgan said: “Ian Elliott has my full confidence and support in his safeguarding activities.” He described Mr Elliott as “a most valuable employee” and said his current contract with the NBSC would continue until next summer. As to whether it would be renewed, he said that by then Mr Elliott would have reached retirement age.
At the weekend it emerged that the Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, had apologised to Mr Elliott for accusing him of spinning against the church leadership in off-the-record briefings with journalists.
According to a Sunday Times report, his apology followed an inquiry conducted by former Supreme Court judge Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness at the request of the NBSC. She found the allegations presented by Bishop Treanor were unfounded.
Earlier this year Mr Elliott took sick leave on medical advice due to stress, which was believed at the time to be related to his workload. Mrs Justice McGuinness’s inquiry took nine months and her findings were presented to the NBSC last February.
Yesterday the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, said she wanted to see Mr Elliot’s contract with the NBSC continuing. “That will give confidence to the public,” she said.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Pat Kenny programme, she said: “The people respect Ian Elliott. I want to see Ian Elliott continuing. He’s clearly an experienced person who can do the job well. The public have trust in him. The hierarchy and board (NBSC) are supporting that work. I want to see his contract continuing and that work continuing.”
Last week, following publication of reviews by the NBSC into child protection in four dioceses and three religious congregations, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter also spoke in support of Mr Elliott.
“I want to publicly acknowledge the courageous and important work in which Ian Elliott is engaged which is crucial to ensuring, insofar as is possible, that in the future all necessary action is taken to protect children from sexual predators,” he said.
Mr Morgan also said yesterday that the board had not responded to a series of questions posed by the Sunday Times in advance of its weekend story out of a concern “arising from a duty of care to our employees”.
A corporate lawyer, Mr Morgan joined the NBSC in 2006. Seen as also deeply committed to child protection, he was chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Child Protection from 2002 and a member of the Bishops’ Committee on Child Abuse, set up in 1999.
Presenting the NBSC annual report for 2011 last June, Mr Morgan paid tribute to “the consistently superb contribution” by Mr Elliott and his team “for their continuing efforts to constantly seek to improve the service standards and performance” of the board, “often under testing conditions”.