Support For Complainants Inconsistent But Practice Overall Continues To Improve
(23rd October 2014 )
18 reviews of safeguarding practice across 5 male religious congregations and 13 female religious congregations have been published today. 8 of these are standard reviews measuring safeguarding practice against the 7 established standards that the Catholic Church has agreed to meet. However, because 10 of the orders in question are very small, have very limited contact with children, the advanced age of their members and no allegations of sexual abuse in Ireland, were assessed against a revised framework. This framework has been devised to address the actuality of their current existence.
“The findings for the 8 full reviews show that the timeframes for reporting to the civil authorities in relation to allegations against priests/brothers/sisters up until 2009 is variable but has improved considerably since the introduction of the “Safeguarding Children, Standards and Guidance,” said Teresa Devlin, CEO, NBSCCCI. “However, support for complainants continues to be inconsistent. Contact in many instances was not made directly by the Congregation and the opportunity for pastoral support was missed. This however is an improving picture and the reviewers highlighted instances of compassionate meaningful responses to survivors.”
The reports also showed that a number of the priests were in ministry abroad and allegations were made from both children in Ireland and in the missionary countries. Practice in terms of managing those situations varied, but increasingly is now dealt with by returning the accused priest to Ireland and being placed under restrictions in houses in Ireland. Where allegations have been made abroad it is rare for the complainant to pursue any action in relation to criminal or civil investigations. In these instances the Church inquiries are critical in establishing if there is a semblance of truth to the allegation and in the management of risk.
“We have also found that management plans relating to accused Priests and Brothers and sisters have improved significantly over time, though there is still room for improvement, in terms of clarity of roles, review of restrictions, and sharing of information,” said Devlin. “Adherence to other aspects of the 7 standards was less well developed in many Congregations. Many have limited ministry with children in Ireland today therefore the applicability of all criteria was limited. Recommendations for improvement where relevant have been made.”
For those 10 Congregations undergoing the revised audit process it was found that where there is ministry with children, the policy and procedures of the Diocese/Service provider was followed. The 10 Congregations demonstrated a strong sense of commitment to working positively with the National Board, in spite of their limited ministries.
“The publication of these Safeguarding reviews may evoke memories, it is important that complainants come forward if there are still unreported allegations of abuse,” said Devlin. “So, please do come forward and report them to the civil authorities and to the Diocese or Religious Order.”
For further information please contact: Ger Kenny 087 2488393