Garda examining child protection reports
SEXUAL CRIME UNIT:THE GARDA sexual crime unit is examining the reports published this week containing new disclosures on child protection practices in four dioceses and three congregations, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has revealed.
Mr Shatter yesterday said he had discussed the reports produced by the Catholic Church’s child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC), with the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
“He 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,” Mr Shatter said.
The Minister praised the “courageous and important” work of NBSC chief executive Ian Elliott, who led the reviews. He said Mr Elliott’s ongoing work was crucial to ensure that in future all possible action was taken to protect children from “sexual predators”.
Mr Shatter said the reports had revealed “indefensible child protection failures” and very understandable concerns had subsequently been expressed in relation to some of the findings. He said it was important to reassure the public that relevant legislation was in place.
“All too regrettably, many of the findings of the reviews underline how necessary the introduction of this legislation was,” he said.
Mr Shatter said the Criminal Justice (Withholding Information) Act 2012, introduced following the publication of the Cloyne report, contained a measure designed to deal with the problem of people failing to report abuse.
He said the Act, which came into force last month, made it an offence to fail to disclose information to the Garda Síochána relating to a serious offence committed against a child or vulnerable adult.
“While the Act applies only to information that a person acquires, receives or becomes aware of after the passing of the Act, it may relate to an offence committed prior to that date,” he said. Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has said she is working closely with Mr Shatter on progressing a series of initiatives, “which are seen as a high priority for Government”.
Ms Fitzgerald said the children’s rights referendum was among the measures. “These reviews highlight yet again the ongoing need for vigilance and action to protect Ireland’s children,” she said.
“This is what I am doing by bringing in new child protection laws which include putting Children First on a statutory footing, by reforming our child protection services and by bringing forward a child protection referendum.”