Considerable commitment by Patricians to ‘listen to’ abuse victims

Congregation reports allegations ‘promptly’, church watchdog review finds

None of the 15 Patrician Brothers who have faced 22 abuse allegations since January 1st 1975 have been convicted in he courts,a review by the church’s child protection watchdog has found.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) review has found that "in the vast majority of cases, the events which gave rise to the allegations may have taken place several decades before they were reported to the congregation and refer to alleged abuse between the 1950s -1980s."

Of the 15 brothers who were the subject of allegations, “nine are deceased and five have left the congregation. One brother remains in the congregation,” the review found.

The five who left, did so “in excess of 30 years ago and have had no subsequent contact with the congregation. In all cases the allegations were made some considerable time after they had left. In two cases brothers left not long after the alleged time of the abuse.”.

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The reviewers “were assured by the provincial leader that any decision to leave the congregation was entirely a matter for the individual brother and that the congregation was not in possession at the time of Review of Safeguarding Practice in the Patrician Brothers of information relating to the allegations.”

The reviewers were informed however that "that the Patricians do not have an Advisory Committee and that it is now their policy to refer to the NBSCCCI National Case Management Reference Group (NCMRG) for specialist advice about the management and assessment of brothers, as required."

It continued that "whilst the current record establishes that all of the allegations have been reported to the civil authorities, the reviewers note that in 2013 the congregation carried out a full review of its files and engaged in a full re-reporting exercise to ensure of all the historical allegations were in the hands of both An Garda Síochána and the HSE Child Care services."

The review noted however that “the historical pattern shows that there were quite significant variations in the time taken to report individual cases to An Garda Síochána at the time when they became known. In many instances where information was shared with An Garda Síochána, it took further periods of time to be passed on to the HSE child protection service.”

It found that “the congregation (mistakenly) believed that a report made by the congregation to An Garda Síochána would automatically be notified by An Garda Síochána to the relevant Health Board as the congregation understood that the 1995 guidelines required both agencies to share all suspected cases of abuse with one another.”

It said “the Patrician Brothers committed to the NBSCCCI safeguarding standards in 2008 and cases coming to their attention since then have been reported promptly.”

The reviewers saw “evidence of a considerable commitment by the Patricians to meet with, listen to and acknowledge the suffering and pain experienced by victims and to offer and provide support. Members of the congregation have been prepared to travel considerable distances in Ireland and in Britain in order to do this. The files contain material from victims acknowledging appreciation for the efforts to reach out to them. This approach to victims is commended.”

It observed of the congregation “these are very small communities, mostly of retired brothers” and that whereas “the Patricians do not have a written communications policy...the small size of the congregation facilitates easy and clear internal communication.”

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times