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Dublin archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
Dublin archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Dublin Archdiocese commended for 'exemplar' child abuse allegation reporting system

The latest review commends the roles of Priest Support Co-ordinator and Priest Delegate – both roles being unique to the Dublin Diocese.
May 12th 2014, 12:19 PM 5,143 23

THE NATIONAL BOARD for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) have today published the fifth tranche of reviews on child safeguarding in a number of dioceses.

The Archdiocese of Dublin review states that a “rational, comprehensive and integrated child safeguarding system” has been developed with the NBSCCCI saying, “their combined achievements in turning around a shocking and grievous situation is remarkable”.

In all, six recommendations are made to the Archdiocese of Dublin, which include that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin direct Child Safeguarding and Protection Service (CSPS) to work with the Safeguarding Committee to develop and publish guidance on the appropriate use of information technology, such as mobile phones, email, digital cameras, websites, the Internet, to make sure that children are not put in danger and exposed to abuse and exploitation.

It also recommends Archbishop Martin initiate a diocesan wide consultation with the priests and parishes to establish the need for producing child safeguarding materials in languages other than English.

Unique roles

The review commends the roles of Priest Support Co-ordinator and Priest Delegate – both roles being unique to the Dublin Diocese.

The Priest Support Co-ordinator monitors and supports priests out of ministry as a result of complaints of abuse.

The review team said this role showed the commitment of the Diocese in maximising the level of protection to the community while at the same time recognising a duty of care to priests accused.

Regarding the Priest Delegate it said “he, as a brother priest provides a level of support and understanding to the priests of the archdiocese around the whole area of child safeguarding.”

Safeguarding 

The reviewers stated that “it is clear that Archbishop Martin heads up and leads the safeguarding project in the archdiocese,” adding that they were impressed by “the strong sense of team among this staff group and by the tangible commitment by every member to child safeguarding”.

Director of Safeguarding, Andrew Fagan welcomed the publication and said that the Diocese is “fully committed to implementing the six recommendations for improvement from the National Board”.

He added there was never room for complacency and he encouraged anyone affected by abuse, who had not yet come forward, to try and do so and get the help and support they may need. He said everyone on his team knew from past experience that days like today, when there is much public discussion on the issue of abuse, are particularly painful for people who have suffered.

The extensive review by the NBSCCCI brings to eight the number of inspections and investigations into child protection practice by Church and State agencies in the Archdiocese of Dublin over the past number of years. Others include the Murphy Report, a HSE Audit, three Garda inspections, the Apostolic Visitation and an internally commissioned audit.

Robust structures

However, Fagan said one of the most important findings was that the child safeguarding structures in the Diocese are now found to be “sufficiently rooted and robust to survive the movement of personnel from their current positions in the archdiocese” adding that it was an improvement on the position outlined in the Murphy Report in 2011, which referred to child protection structures being heavily dependent on just two people.

The Diocesan updated its child protection statistics to coincide with publication of the review today, finding that to date,  the costs of settlement of claims regarding child sexual abuse by priests is currently €20.4 million – €14 million in settlements and €6.4 million in legal costs for both sides.

Since last year another three priests of the Archdiocese have been the subject of allegations of child sexual abuse. This brings to 101 the number of priests of Dublin who have been accused of abuse since 1940.

The Diocese states that 236 civil actions have been taken against 51 priests or former priests of the Diocese. 187 cases have concluded and 49 are on-going.

Read: ‘Significant developments’ in child safeguarding in Diocese of Ferns>

Read: Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin: ‘Relatively few cases to deal with’>

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Christina Finn

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