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'Unacceptable delays and unsatisfactory responses' to abuse concerns in Clogher

The National Board for Safeguarding Children’s review, however, drew a line between past and current practice in the diocese.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE NATIONAL BOARD for Safeguarding Children’s review into child protection practices in the Clogher diocese was highly critical of past responses to abuse allegations.

However, investigators drew a clear line between the past and current systems.

The report said that from the cases examined, “it was clear that opportunities for preventive interventions were consistently missed when concerns of abuse by clergy were highlighted in the past”.

In one particular case, there was an “unacceptable delay” in taking action against a priest and removing him from all ministry following a “credible allegation”.

In another case, a priest was suspected of multiple incidents of abuse but was not removed from ministry. Instead he was transferred to another parish and eventually was sent overseas “for therapeutic help”.

“He remained outside the jurisdiction and was eventually extradited back to this country several years later but died before he could be brought before the courts,” continued the review.

Between 1975 and November 2012, allegations were made against 13 priests in the diocese. Altogether, 23 allegations were reported to the garda and 22 to the HSE (or Health Boards). Just three priests against whom allegations were made were alive at the time of the review. Two priests have been convicted of committing an offence against a child. One remains in ministry or retired from ministry, two left the priesthood or are out of ministry.

The bishop during the period was Joseph Duffy.

In a number of instances, allegations emerged against priests following their death “making it impossible for any investigation to take place”.

Reviewers of past practice formed the impression “that the response to abuse concerns was often unsatisfactory and that risky behaviour was not addressed as strongly as it should have been”.

Although past practices were severely criticised, the report noted that current bishop, Dr Liam McDaid, is implementing many positive changes. The vast majority of criteria for the seven standards required were “fully met”, while the remainder were “partially met”.

The board made seven recommendations, including defining volunteer roles more effectively and creating a definition of a vulnerable adult to provide clarity for those involved in safeguarding so they can decide whether an individual falls within the scope of the policy.

The third tranche of NBSCCCI reviews were released today and covered seven Church authorities. CEO Ian Elliot said it was “gratifying to report clear evidence of steady progress in developing robust safeguarding structures” across the six dioceses and the Society of African Missions.

He thanked the “army of volunteers” who give their time to support child protection measures, calling their efforts “nothing short of heroic”.

Download: the full report>

Earlier: Child protection reviews reveal 378 abuse allegations about 146 individuals

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