This statement was issued to the Irish Catholic on Monday March 24th
Statement from the NBSCCCI
The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) categorically refutes any suggestion that its final report into the diocese of Down & Connor published in December 2013 omitted relevant matters from the audit process as per statements attributed to Mr. Ian Elliott and recently reported in various media. Before his retirement on 30 June 2013, Mr. Elliott participated in field work as part of the audit process and prepared a first draft report which reflected very positively on the diocese of Down and Connor. While preserving its tone, there was a need to augment it with work which had to be undertaken after Mr. Elliott’s retirement and to stress test the contents in order to complete the review in line with the methodology established by the Board.
There were two comments in Mr Elliott’s report which were not detailed in the final report. The first of these related to relationship issues between the Diocese and the Board – which in the assessment of the review team could not be reflected in the final report as such did not fall within the terms of reference. The second comment related to the management of a particular case which the reviewers could not include; in Mr Elliott’s report he referenced abuse of three men by an unspecified priest, he did not make any reference to child abuse in the context of the particular priest involved. Given that adult abuse does not fall within the terms of reference of the work of the Board or the review process and there were no supporting data whatsoever provided by Mr. Elliott in relation to this comment, the particular reference to the priest was removed. The point arising from this case which was made by Mr Elliott, namely, a lack of evidence on all files of recognition and monitoring of risk, risk assessment and risk management/safety plans did remain in the final report and is referenced on pages 12 and 27. That point was based on supporting data examined by the National Board.
For the avoidance of any doubt, Mr Elliott’s initial draft report was positive and the final review report built on that initial draft. The two comments which were removed were removed by the reviewers for wholly legitimate reasons and in accordance with the methodology employed by the National Board in relation to the conduct of such work particularly to ensure that it acts within its terms of reference and its comments and findings are backed up by empirical evidence. The important issue highlighted by Mr. Elliott, which related to the assessment and management of risk, remained in the report while the reference to an unspecified priest was removed.
We have attempted to clarify our position on this matter with Mr. Elliott through correspondence. Mr. Elliott has not yet responded to our correspondence with him.
The National Board owes it to the thousands of volunteers throughout the dioceses and religious congregations who day in and day out seek assiduously to make the Church a safer place for children, to the lay faithful and wider society and most particularly to those who have suffered abuse – to assure them all that the professionalism and integrity we have always espoused and which Mr. Elliott, in his own time, did so much to create, instil and work for, have not been compromised in any way.
For further information please call: Ger Kenny 087 2488393
NBSCCCI confirms that in response to personal correspondence to Ian Elliott which he received on 12th March, we have received a response from his lawyer dated 25th March. This letter was responded to on 26th March.