Gardaí examining church reports
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has discussed the findings of a series of new reports on child protection measures in four Catholic dioceses and three religious orders with Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
"[Commissioner Callinan] has informed me that the Garda Sexual Crime Management Unit is examining those reports in the context of establishing what further action may be necessary on the part of An Garda Síochána in relation to them,” the Minister said.
The National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) yesterday published reports on the dioceses of Clonfert, Cork Ross, Kildare Leighlin and Limerick, and the congregations of the Sacred Heart Missionaries, the Spiritans (formerly Holy Ghost Fathers) and the male congregation of the Dominicans.
The advocacy group for victims of child sexual abuse One in Four has called for a Garda investigation of senior Catholic Church figures in Ireland following the disclosures.
Maeve Lewis, executive director of One in Four, said it was “as if certain senior churchmen continue to believe that child protection procedures are optional, and they are above the law of the land”.
“We know from the past that children were abused because church leaders protected sex offenders,” she said.
“I believe that where possible, the gardaí should now investigate if these senior men are in breach of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 and if there is evidence to show that they may be guilty of the crime of reckless endangerment of children.”
Mr Shatter said “very understandable concerns” had been expressed in relation to some of the findings with regard “to indefensible child protection failures”.
The Minister said he wished to reassure the public that the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences Against Children and Vulnerable Adults) Act, 2012, had been designed to deal with the problem of people failing to report abuse.
“All too regrettably, many of the findings of the reviews underline how necessary the introduction of this legislation was,” he said.