Ardagh diocese approach 'laudable'

 

There were 13 priests incardinated in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois against whom an allegation was made since January 1st 1975 and up to the date of the review by the National Board for Safeguarding Children.

Fourteen allegations were reported to An Garda Síochána in that timeframe. Nine were reported to the HSE or health boards.

Just one priest against whom an allegation had been made was still alive at the time of the review; 12 had died.

One priest against whom an allegation had been made had since left the priesthood. One priest in the diocese had been convicted of an offence.

Two priests who were not “of the diocese” but who resided in it were known to be the subject of an allegation arising from their past ministry.

The three cases that fell within the scope of the board’s review in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois involved allegations against priests who were alive at the time the allegations were brought to the attention of the diocese.

The board said all files were “well organised” and contained chronologies drawn up by the diocese’s designated person.

It said it believed all relevant documentation held by the diocese was made available for inclusion in the review process.

In terms of its policy and procedures, the Ardagh and Clonmacnois safeguarding committee had developed “coherent, easy to read documents in line with current Church guidance”. It had also developed a parish audit.

The board said this approach was “laudable”.

However, like many dioceses, Ardagh had not to date completed the diocesan audit set out in the Safeguarding Children: Standards and Guidance document and forwarded this to the board on an annual basis.

The board said it wished to place on record its appreciation of the openness of Bishop Colm O’Reilly and his team for their commitment to the review process.

It noted he had placed a notice on the diocesan website in advance of the review, announcing it was about to begin.

“This simple action illustrated the clear desire on the part of Bishop O’Reilly and others to commit to and support the review process. In addition, Bishop O’Reilly and his team demonstrated commitment to safeguarding in inviting the reviewers in to examine their practice at an early date.”

In a statement released with the review report, Bishop O’Reilly said: “One cannot but be conscious at this time of the fact that people who suffered because of wrong doing by Church personnel will be affected by having to think again about an experience which pained them deeply.

“It is my hope that this pain will be lessened by the knowledge that their lives can move into a new phase when some at least of the past can be left behind.”

He expressed his sorrow at how they have been made to suffer and said he wanted to welcome any contact which any person feeling distressed at this time would make with him or with the diocesan delegate for safeguarding of children.