Child protection board chief 'encouraged' by church action


IT HAS been claimed that any “objective and fair-minded observer would recognise that the [Catholic] Church has tried hard to meet its commitments to safeguard children today and to learn from the mistakes of the past”.

Ian Elliott, chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, said: “These developments tend not to command much attention in the media as they are much less newsworthy than reporting on past bad practice.

“However, it is important to focus on today and on the future and when you do there is much to feel encouraged about.”

The board was responsible for the extension of the remit of the Murphy commission to investigate the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations in the Cloyne diocese. A report it prepared and published found child protection practices there to be “inadequate and in some respects dangerous”.

Writing in the February issue of Intercom, a magazine for priests published on behalf of the Irish Bishops Conference, Mr Elliott said that “across the church there is an army of trained volunteers who give freely of their time to create and maintain safe environments for children”.

These people “were learning more each year and increasing their competence to protect children”.

He added: “People who occupy roles that bring them into contact with children are more aware of the dangers and risks that can exist for them. As a consequence, they are more ready to intervene and protect a child.”

Recent training events run by the National Board for Safeguarding Children, which addressed the recording and exchange of information in the field of safeguarding children, had been attended by “members of the hierarchy, provincials and religious superiors”, all of whom “contributed greatly to the proceedings”.