Six child protection reports due

Six separate reports on child protection measures in Catholic dioceses in Ireland will be published tomorrow.

Counselling services are gearing up for an influx of calls from survivors of clerical abuse after the audits from the church’s own watchdog are posted online.

The study into diocesan child protection measures in Raphoe, Derry, Dromore, Tuam, Kilmore, and Ardagh and Clonmacnois were carried out by Ian Elliot, chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCC).

It is understood the long-awaited reports will not focus on historical complaints of clerical sex abuse, leaving victims of one of Ireland’s most notorious paedophile priests, Raphoe-based Eugene Greene, searching for answers.

The cleric moved parish eight times during 25 years of abuse he inflicted on young victims from the early 1960s.

He was eventually jailed for 12 years in 2000 after pleading guilty to 41 sample charges against 26 victims between 1962 and 1985. He was freed in 2008.

Former Bishop of Derry Seamus Hegarty, who was in charge in Raphoe between 1982 and 1994 and who retired this month due to ill-health, is expected to face further questions over his handling of Greene.

The six reports, examining how child protection measures have changed since 1975, will set out current efforts to safeguard youngsters in the dioceses.

Maeve Lewis, of support group One in Four, said: “Our understanding is the audits will focus on current child procedures so we are hoping it shows the church has progressed in implementing good child care procedures across the six dioceses.

“We are gearing up for an influx of calls, just what happened when other reports came out.”

It is hoped Mr Elliot‘s audit of all 26 dioceses in Ireland will be completed by mid-2012.

Anyone affected is urged to call the HSE National Counselling Service (NCS) helpdesk on freephone 1800 303 529 or the National Rape Crisis 24-hour helpline for victims of rape and sexual abuse on freephone 1800 778 888.

A series of child clerical abuse revelations have rocked the Catholic Church in recent years.

In May 2009 the Ryan Report revealed the church hierarchy and Irish Government covered up almost four decades of sexual abuse and beatings by priests and nuns on thousands of children in state care, with serial abusers moved from school to school.

Six months later the state-ordered Murphy Report revealed the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland was granted immunity to cover up child sex abuse among paedophile priests in Dublin.

This summer the Cloyne Report revealed former Bishop John Magee, a one-time Vatican aide and papal envoy, deliberately misled authorities and failed to report clerical abuse allegations as recently as three years ago.

The devastating level of abuse and cover-up in the Ferns Diocese was the first to be uncovered in 2005.

The HSE said its NCS is also working with the Donegal Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Counselling Service to provide support.

Tom McGrath, director of counselling with the NCS in the North West, said: “I would encourage all those affected by the publication of the Diocesan Audit Reports and clerical abuse in general to take this opportunity to contact the helpdesk and find out what is available for victims locally and nationally.

“This information may be important not only for victims but also for other family members who often carry a great burden of hurt and distress.”

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