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Annual Report

'Significant' increase in allegations of Catholic Church abuse reported to safeguard board

The National Board for Safeguard Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland has published its annual report.

THERE WAS A “significant increase” in the number of notifications of allegations of abuse reported to the National Board for Safeguard Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) in the past year. 

In its latest annual report, covering 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023, the Board said it is clear from the source of the allegations that many of these related to alleged abuse in boarding schools run and managed by male and female religious orders. 

The 12 months saw an increase in allegations made against members of the clergy to 251 compared to 178 the previous year. 

“Many of these relate to boarding schools during a time when they were run by religious orders,” said Teresa Devlin, CEO of the National Board.

“We have consistently welcomed opportunities that give complainants a voice and a mechanism for sharing what happened to them as children,” Devlin said.

The annual report said that a series of media releases in the autumn of 2022, following a RTÉ documentary called Blackrock Boys, provided such an opportunity, not just for victims of abuse in Blackrock College, but in other boarding schools and settings governed by male and female religious across Ireland.

“While we can be fairly confident that existing practice with children is well regulated, our work in safeguarding will not be completed until all of those who have been abused as children within the Church are enabled to come forward,” Devlin said. 

The 12 months also saw an increase in the number of requests for safeguarding advice from 258 to 282. 

The report outlined that the majority of allegations received (200) state sexual abuse as the major abuse. 

There were a further 37 allegations of physical abuse, one boundary violation and 13 cases of alleged abuse for which the type was not provided. 

In some cases notified, particularly in relation to sexual abuse, emotional abuse is also noted on the referal form.

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