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Child protection reviews reveal 378 abuse allegations about 146 individuals

There was a higher incidence of abuse amongst those in religious orders and the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church of Ireland said this is worthy of further consideration.

File photo
File photo
Image: Chris Radburn/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE NATIONAL BOARD for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church of Ireland (NBSCCCI) has said its reviews of four dioceses and three religious orders dealt with 378 allegations of abuse relating to 146 individuals.

Out of those cases, there have been just 12 related convictions.

The board said it could not offer any explanation as to why there was a “striking” and “marked” difference between the number of allegations and the number of convictions. It suggested that “this is not an issue that only exists within the Church but reflects a situation which is present throughout society as a whole”.

In his overview of the second tranche of reviews, CEO Ian Elliot said that as a result of past practices, there have been examples of offenders being able to continue their abuse for longer periods than they should have. He said it should be noted that clear policies now exist that place emphasis on preventative actions to ensure this does not happen again.

The numbers of allegations are significantly higher in this batch of reviews when compared to the findings from the first tranche published last November. That round of reports took in six dioceses and no religious orders.

The NBSCCCI noted that the three religious authorities reported a markedly higher experience of abuse allegations than the dioceses (Cork & Ross, Clonfert, Limerick and Kildare & Leighlin).

Altogether, the Dominican Friars, the Spiritans and the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, received 267 allegations of abuse pertaining to 89 individuals since 1975.

The board said that although it is a “very small sample” and “may not be representative”, the higher incidence of abuse is worthy of further consideration. It said this could be of particular importance as the reviews also found “examples of significant practice deficits such as the non-reporting or delayed reporting of allegations when they emerged”.

However, Elliot said there is now a complete openness and commitment to change in each of the religious orders. All three confirmed their “sincere intention to develop and set in place the highest safeguarding practice henceforth”.

Overall, the NBSCCCI said the findings from the seven reviews were mixed “with some examples of good practice and sound development” mixed with “very poor” situations that need to be learnt from.

It said that although all allegations of abuse have now been reported to the relevant authorities, some were “very much delayed”.

Elliot also praised each of the seven church bodies for their openness and willingness to publish the reports voluntarily, even when there was poor practice highlighted.

Read: Findings of child protection reviews published >

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