Fitzgerald 'shocked' by findings


Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said she was shocked at some of the findings of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

Ms Fitzgerald said best practice in child protection was ignored up until last year.

Seven reviews were conducted by the board into safeguarding practices at both diocesan and religious congregation level.

“The scale of past abuse recounted in these reviews is horrific, in particular as we know it took place, in many instances, in schools. But the extent of cover-up and the failures to safeguard children, whether by acts of commission or omission, is equally shocking,” she said.

Ms Fitzgerald was critical of the management of allegations of abuse and the alleged offenders.

“In the case of the at least one order, we see that it continued up until as recently as last year to fail to report past admissions of abuse to gardai. In another order, one accused priest still had limited ministry up until last year while another had a public profile, participating in an internet forum.

“In effect we see child protection best practice being simply ignored, right up until 2011.”

Ms Fitzgerald said it was “deeply worrying” and “simply unacceptable” that the “culture and mindset” documented in the reports continued to exist until as recently as 12 months ago.

The Minister will met with NBSCCC chief executive Ian Elliott and the HSE’s director of children and family services Gordon Jeyes to discuss the findings and the ongoing work between the two agencies “in promoting improved safeguarding practices across the Church”.

Ms Fitzgerald also intends to discuss the findings of the reviews of the congregations as they relate to the educational sector with Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn.

“I appreciate that publication of these reviews will likely serve as a very painful reminder to many victims of the abuse and cover-ups they suffered. No victim should suffer in silence,” she said.

“I would encourage anybody affected by past abuse, not just in the dioceses and orders subject to today’s review, who have not previously come forward, to know that they can still do so, in confidence and with an assurance that they will be treated with the sensitivity deserved.”