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Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin: 'Relatively few cases to deal with'

Summary of the main findings of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland into Kildare and Leighlin Diocese.

Carlow Cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.
Carlow Cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.
Image: Google Maps

THE ADMINISTRATOR of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin has welcomed the recommendations of the National Body for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) report into the handling of child abuse allegations there.

Montsignor Brendan Byrne has issued a schedule for responding to the 12 recommendations made by the report, which covers allegations of abuse by priests affiliated to the Diocese between 1975 and 2012.

The report outlines that 18 different allegations were made against 10 priests from the Diocese in that period, a figure the report describes as “relatively few cases” when compared to the numbers in other Dioceses audited.

The allegations involved eight priests who are now deceased, and two who remain out of ministry, figures which had already been in the public domain.

This included one complaint made in the last decade. News reports in 2005 said three allegations had been made in the 20 years previous to that date, i.e. between 1985 and 2005.

The Diocese contributed over €300,000 towards civil settlements of two civil cases taken against priests who were in its ministry. €133,835 was paid in 2004 to settle a case against a priest who was facing serious criminal charges at the time of his death in 2002.

Another €175,000 was contributed to a settlement against a priest convicted in 2009. The Diocese also paid €31,659 to cover legal fees in that instance.

“While very significant progress has been made in creating and sustaining a culture of safety for children and young people in parish and diocesan activities, this review challenges and encourages us to attain the highest standards possible,” Montsignor Byrne said.

“In welcoming the publication of this review I wish to reaffirm the commitment of our Diocese to be fully accountable to the highest safeguarding standards.”

The Diocese has spent €115,617 on safeguarding counselling, training, legal fees and insurance so far.

Kildare & Leighlin has been without a bishop since James Moriarty’s resignation was accepted by the Pope in April 2010. Moriarty was an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Dublin during the period examined by the Murphy Report in 2009, and resigned amid the fallout from that report.

Kildare and Leighlin: The 12 recommendations made

Below is the 12 recommendations made by the NBSCCC report.

  1. A review to ensure that new Diocesan policies currently being drawn up are consistent with HSE and national Church guidelines.
  2. A deputy to the current Designated Person – the single person responsible for compliance with best practice, and for dealing with any complaints – should be appointed, so that they can replace the current person when they retire
  3. A suitably qualified person should be appointed to co-ordinate all safeguarding activities in the Diocese.
  4. When the Diocese’s new procedures are published, the administrator should convene a workshop to be attended by all people involved in safeguarding. This workshop should draw up a five-year Diocesan safeguarding plan.
  5. All Diocesan files should be audited to ensure that the central filing system contains every document which in any way refers to a child safeguarding concern about any priest.
  6. The Diocesan Advisory Panel should be told to follow up all recommendations of a July 2006 file review immediately.
  7. Annual meetings should be held between the Diocesan Administrator, the Designated Person, the Gardaí, the HSE and the Diocesan Chancellor where documentation can be shared and an inter-agency approach agreed.
  8. The Diocesan Advisory Panel should develop clear terms of reference and a 12-month plan for its activities.
  9. The Designated Person should be responsible for presenting all cases to the Diocesan Advisory Panel and become an integral part of it.
  10. Two support persons should be appointed to engage with victims of clerical abuse, one male and one female. These should be appropriately trained.
  11. The safeguarding committee should ensure that the Diocese keeps the Garda Vetting process under constant review.
  12. A Child Safeguarding Communications Plan, including print and electronic media, should be developed to ensure that accurate and clear information about child safeguarding is available to children, young people and adults.

In response, the Diocesan Administrator Montsignor Brendan Byrne said a review of the Diocesan procedures was already underway, and assured that the appointments recommended would be made in time for the workshop.

He said an audit of all Diocesan files would be completed before the end of the year, bringing them into line with best practice, and that work developing the role of the Diocesan advisory panel would begin immediately.

He also agreed to an annual meeting with the Gardaí, HSE and designated person, and said Garda vetting and communications would remain under review.

The following images, from the NBSCCC report, analyse the Diocese’s performance in meeting the national safeguarding standards.

Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin: 'Relatively few cases to deal with'
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Gavan Reilly

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