Child protection tsar almost quit over Church stance

THE Catholic Church’s child protection tsar, Ian Elliott, was on the verge of resigning in the past year after a review of child protection standards in the country’s 26 dioceses was halted because the Church refused to co-operate.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) was forced to suspend its investigations after the Bishops’ Conference, the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI) and the Irish Missionary Union (IMU) received legal advice that they should not co-operate with the review due to data protection concerns.

The review was suggested by the Catholic hierarchy following public anger after the NBSCCC report publication into the mishandling of abuse complaints in the diocese of Cloyne.

After talks between both sides and the Office of the Data Commissioner, it has been decided that the review will proceed but the board’s findings will only be made public with the agreement of the bishop, CORI or the IMU.

NBSCCC chief executive Ian Elliott believes the Church must publish all this information if it wants to be seen to advocate transparency and accountability.

Clerical abuse victim Andrew Madden last night urged the Minister for Children to urgently introduce legislation to put the Children First guidelines on a statutory basis.

“This should be speedily followed by the introduction of a system of independent audit of compliance with Children First,” he said.

Welcoming the NBSCCC report, the bishops’ conference, CORI and the IMU said: “The board’s report demonstrates significant progress in many key areas, notably in policy development and training, as well as some important areas of challenge that have yet to be completely resolved”.

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