Groups respond to diocese audits


Human rights body Amnesty International Ireland said that while it welcomed “some signs of progress” in the diocesan audits on safeguarding children published today, it had a number of serious concerns.

Executive director Colm O’Gorman said the examination of the Diocese of Raphoe was “particularly worrying”.

“It highlights concerns over the approach adopted to child protection complaints by three bishops, including Bishop Dr Philip Boyce, and concerns about the system for protecting children as late as 2009,” he said.

“It is also clear that individuals were appointed to child protection roles they were not comfortable with, and that while particular care was taken to support priests who were the subject of complaints, the individuals who made the complaints received little attention.”

“In its response to the Cloyne report the Government made clear the paramount importance it attaches to the protection of our children. But in one of the reviews it is suggested that there is a delay on the part of the state authorities to respond to allegations of child abuse.”

Mr O’Gorman said the Department of Children and Youth Affairs must carefully consider the reports and interrogate them in detail to identify the next steps that must be taken to deal with the problems revealed.

“We need to welcome the signs of progress revealed in the reports published today by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church,” he said.

”But we also need to be conscious that these are reports by a body sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church, only published with the approval of the bishops concerned, and are not independent statutory investigations.”

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) welcomed the publication of the audits.

Chief executive Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop said the conclusions of Ian Elliot in his audits of the six dioceses was that lessons had been learned and that current practice and the handling of accusations of clerical child sex abuse was positive.

“However there were appropriate criticisms of how these allegations were handled in the past,” Ms O’Malley-Dunlop said.

She said the clients availing of the centre’s services whose allegations were not handled appropriately in the past “may not find much comfort in these reports”.

“We would hope that the apologies that are repeated in the reports will go some way to helping these survivors on their road to recovery.”

Towards Healing, a support group set up with the support of the bishops, said it would extend its opening hours for counselling over the next five days.

The service is available from 11am until 11pm today, tomorrow and on December 2nd. And from 11am to 8pm on December 3rd and 4th. The freephone number is 1800 303416.

Separately, the One in Four group told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice today that it broadly welcomed the proposed legislation which would make it a crime to withhold information about crime against children from An Garda Síochána.

Executive director Maeve Lewis told the committee that at present there was not an effective child protection system in this country.