Dioceses engage with audit into child protection

THE 24 dioceses of the Catholic Church “engaged positively for the most part” with a HSE audit into their child protection practices which is ongoing six years after it was first requested.

The audit was initiated in 2005 by then Minister for Children Brian Lenihan. Findings were published in early 2009 but the then Minister for Children, Barry Andrews sought to continue the audit when it emerged that Section 5, which dealt with soft information such as informal complaints, had not been completed due to legal difficulties.

Later that year, the HSE also asked for supplementary questions which would allow HSE childcare managers to verify data already received and to ensure it is in accordance with state guidelines.

It has taken since then to complete the diocesan section of the review but there is still a long way to go. Preliminary work has just begun on reviewing child protection practices amongst the country’s religious orders and church congregations. The HSE say they can’t give an approximate date for when the review will be finished.

“The HSE believes that it is of paramount importance that the audit is complete, accurate, well-produced and fully meets the criteria as set out by the Minister for Children who commissioned this audit,” a HSE spokeswoman said.

As part of the review, all child protection complaints forwarded by the Church are being cross referenced with information held by the gardaí. The HSE say it has been “time consuming” due to the “emphasis being placed by both agencies on accuracy and validation of information”.

“The dioceses have engaged positively for the most part with this audit to date and have provided the HSE with all of the information that has been sought. The analysis of this information is almost complete. Some preliminary work on phase two of the audit has commenced,” she added.

Church leaders have to provide the identity of the person who made the complaint, the name of the alleged abuser and full dates and details of when it was reported to the civil authorities.

Meanwhile, it is unclear when the Murphy Report into the mishandling of abuse complaints in the diocese of Cloyne will be published. It had been cleared for publication by the High Court in April however legal arguments over what sections should be deleted or not have delayed the process.

The 26-chapter Report by the Commission of Investigation examined the handling of allegations of abuse against 19 priests in the Diocese of Cloyne. It was handed to the Minister for Justice last December.


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