T he National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCC) has three main aims;

  1. To offer advice on best practice in Safeguarding Children
  2. To assist in the development of Safeguarding policy, procedures and practice
  3. To monitor practice in relation to Safeguarding Children.

The Board has established a Memorandum of Understanding with all Church bodies, to enable the unfettered delivery of its functions.

The Board meets monthly and issues guidance and advice as appropriate. The Board develops annual objectives and produces a report each year on its work, and that of the National Office.

Founding Principles

All children have a fundamental right to be respected, nurtured, cared for and protected. This right is embedded in Gospel values, best practice guidelines and international and domestic laws.

In light of the teaching of the Church, civil legislation and guidance, every part of the Church must be committed to taking the necessary steps to:

  •  demonstrate the right of the child to protection from harm is paramount
  •  cherish and safeguard children and young people
  •  foster best practice
  •  demonstrate accountability through establishing effective structures
  •  support Church organisations and personnel in safeguarding children
  •  establish safe recruitment and vetting practices – aimed at preventing those who pose a risk to children from holding positions of trust
  •  maintain codes of behaviour – having clear guidelines that set out what is and is not acceptable behaviour as an essential part of keeping children safe
  • offer safe activities for children – helping ensure they can learn, play and pray in a safe environment.

Pope Benedict XVI in his Ad Limina address to the Irish Bishops on 28 October 2006, spoke of the ‘deep wounds’ caused by the abuse of children within the Church, Pope Benedict stressed the need to

 establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps were necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice were fully respected and to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes.

The Pope went on to say,

the Church in Ireland will grow stronger and be ever more capable of giving witness to the redemptive power of the Cross of Christ.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children seeks to work collaboratively with Church Leaders, clergy, Lay representatives, congregations and children and young people to recognize and deal with the historical abuse of children, and to proactively try to ensure the safety and well-being of children in all current church activities.


It is a not for profit organisation and is funded through the Sponsoring bodies –

  • The Conference of Irish Bishops,
  • The Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI)
  • The Irish Missionary Union (IMU)

NBSCCC was incorporated early in 2009. The company name is ‘Coimirce’ which appropriately means ‘Safeguard’ in Irish.

National Board Chairperson:

John Morgan

Has had a career in business primarily as a Corporate Lawyer. Has served as chairperson of the Bishop’s Committee on Child Protection from 2002-2006

National Board Directors:

Michael Ringrose

Former Chief Executive PWDI (People with Disabilities in Ireland), the National Representative Organisation of all people with disabilities, their parents, carers, families and advocates. Prior to that he served as a Chief Superintendent with an Garda Siochana.

Martina Duggan

Has extensive front-line experience in crisis intervention and in assisting the most marginalised in society. Currently involved in support group work and after care-service in the areas of substance and alcohol misuse. Joined the Board in 2008

Marie Kennedy

Has a background in social work and has extensive experience in child protection and welfare , with a post graduate diploma in child protection and an MSc in Health Services Management. Through a range of important assignments provides significant and extensive experience in all aspects of child care management, Joined the Board in 2008

Dr. Keith Holmes

A Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, based in the Lucena Clinic in Rathgar,Dublin6, where he is Lead Clinician and Chair of the Medical Board. He is a former Chair of the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the College of Psychiatryof Ireland”.

Fr Ed Grimes CSSp

is a Spiritan canon lawyer, with experience of assistance to Religious Congregations and Dioceses in safeguarding children. He was formerly on the Spiritan leadership team, National Director of Pontifical Mission Societies in Ireland, Director of Gambia Pastoral Institute and secretary general of the Interterritorial Bishops Conference in West Africa.

 Fr Paul Murphy OFM Cap

has wide experience in his own Order in Child Safeguarding, both as a member of its Leadership Team and as Designated Liaison Person.   He served on the Child Safeguarding desk in CORI for eight years, during which time he was the Company Secretary for Faoiseamh Ltd, the victims’ support Service.   He also participated in the working group which drew up Our Children, Our Church.  Paul has qualified as a Trainer in Child Safeguarding; he also researched the monitoring/rehabilitation of sexual offenders in religious communities for a MA with the University of the West of England in Bristol.

Jim O’Higgins

is a practising solicitor and accredited mediator.  He was founder member and co-designer of the state Family Mediation Service.  He served as honorary secretary and Board member of Cheeverstown, a service for the intellectually challenged.  He chaired the Advisory Panel on child abuse for the Ferns Diocese for eight years.  He is currently Chairperson of Peter McVerry Trust and of the joint Board of two National Schools in a disadvantaged area in Dublin’s North City

Sr.Colette Stevenson 

is a Presentation Sister. She has been involved in child protection work within the Church since 1995, when she became Director of the C.O.R.I child protection office. Previously she worked as a teacher and later in retreat work. She is a qualified marriage and family therapist. She recently retired from the National Office as Director of Professional Standards

Mary Waddell

Is a former Director of Nursing at the Mater Hospital, Belfast and of the Eastern Health and Social Services Board, Belfast. She is also a Department of Education appointee to the Board of Governors of Saint Malachy’s Primary School, Eliza Street, Belfast and has also been a School Governor at Saint Louisa’s College, Belfast for ten years. She has been on several panels investigating complaints relating to students at Queens University, Belfast and has a particular interest in the concept of ‘whistle blowing’ and its links to governance at this time.

Rev. Tony Mullins

Fr Tony Mullins was ordained in 1983 and is a priest of the diocese of Limerick. He has worked in a variety of pastoral settings including parishes in Limerick city and county. He has also served as chaplain to St Munchin’s Diocesan College, St John’s Hospital, and Limerick Prison. In 1995 he was appointed Administrator of St John’s Cathedral Limerick. He served as Diocesan Secretary from September 2000 to 2005. In December 2009 he was elected by the Diocesan College of Consultors to administer the diocese pending the appointment of a bishop. He continued in this role until April, 2013. He is currently a member of the Governing Body of Mary Immaculate College Limerick, and was chairman of the board while he was administrator of the diocese. He has also served as a member of the Limerick Youth Service Board, and St John’s Hospital Board. During his time as administrator of the diocese he expanded the Safeguarding Child Protection Service and appointed its first full time director.