Clerical abuse helplines established

 

Two helplines have been set up for individuals with information or concerns over clerical child sex abuse allegations at a boarding school just outside of Cork city.

Last night both the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter welcomed decisions by the HSE and an Garda Síochána to investigate “concerns regarding the welfare and protection of children" who attended Coláiste an Chroí Naofa school in Carraig na bhFear, which was run by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.

It is also believed that the congregation itself requested that the Catholic Church’s child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children, conduct a review of child protection procedures at the school.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) announced this evening it had set up a freephone helpline for those who may require support or counselling. The helpline is open from 10am to 10pm daily on 1800 742 800.

A separate helpline has also been established at the request of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to provide counselling. The helpline, which will be run by the ‘Towards Healing’ counselling and support service, opens on Friday morning and lines will be open between 11am to 1 am.

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald encouraged survivors of past abuse at Carraig na bhFearr to contact either of the newly-established helplines.

State investigations into allegations of abuse at the boarding school following the naming of a person connected to Coláiste an Chroí Naofa.

In the Seanad on July 27th Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly named a priest who had taught at the school. Despite seven cases of alleged child abuse against the priest being reported to four different Garda stations between 1986 and 2008, the Director of Public Prosecutions declined to pursue a criminal prosecution against him, said Mr Daly.

Mr Daly said the Sacred Heart Missionaries had settled a civil case in relation to this priest before it was brought to court and accused them of failure to enforce restrictions placed upon the priest.

Last year, he said, the priest had been advertised as spiritual director for a pilgrimage abroad, where he could have unsupervised access to children.