Child safeguarding services in Dublin archdiocese cut in half due to Covid

Office saw 70% decrease in finances since pandemic, with staff down from 10 to five

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and director of the Child Safeguarding and Protection Service Andrew Fagan. Photograph:  Conor McCabe.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and director of the Child Safeguarding and Protection Service Andrew Fagan. Photograph: Conor McCabe.

 

The Archdiocese of Dublin has cut the number of staff in its child protection office in half, amid major redundancies in response to Covid-19 financial difficulties.

The archdiocese confirmed it had reduced the number of staff working in its Child Safeguarding and Protection Service from 10 to five.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese said the cuts followed a “significant decrease” in financial income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The archdiocese saw a decrease in its common and share funds of more than 70 per cent, she said.

“In light of this, a voluntary redundancy scheme was made available to all diocesan staff in June 2020,” the spokeswoman said.

The scheme saw the overall number of staff working for the archdiocese cut in half, down from 82 to 42. The redundancy scheme was open to applications until the end of August, and had been oversubscribed. The cuts to staffing numbers took effect by the end of last year.

Initially, the archdiocese had hoped about one-third of staff in the diocesan support services and parish pastoral workers might avail of the redundancy scheme.

The archdiocese said its safeguarding office continued to be headed up by director Andrew Fagan, who was an “experienced safeguarding professional”.

Statutory authorities

The office continued to work with statutory authorities and the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC), “so as to maintain best practice in safeguarding standards,” the spokeswoman said.

The archdiocese has begun a restructuring of all its support services following the cuts, and “remains committed to upholding the highest standards in relation to the protection of children and vulnerable adults,” she said.

“We are currently working on ways of making best use of the resources available to us by, for example, partnering with other organisations to deliver services and using information technology to deliver safeguarding training,” the spokeswoman said.

“The needs of each office will be kept under review to ensure that all essential services continue to support parishes and their mission,” she said.

The board, set up in 2006 to improve child protection standards in the church, has be en unable to conduct reviews of dioceses and religious orders due to Covid-19.

In a newsletter last month, the board said travel restrictions meant reviewers were unable to view child protection case files.

“Due to the need for case management files to be kept safe and secure, they can only be read by reviewers in situ, and travel constraints and health considerations make this impossible to arrange at present,” it said.

The board said given restrictions were to continue for some time it was examining ways limited reviews could take place.