Shatter condemns Vatican effort to deflect blame

THE Vatican’s effort to deflect blame for the cover-up of child abuse in Cloyne has been dismissed by Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

He told the Dáil the views expressed by the Holy See to the Irish bishops in 1997 inhibited both the Irish Church’s child protection measures and the state’s.

“The Vatican’s intervention and the letter sent by the Papal Nuncio not only undermined the obligation of dioceses to comply with the Church’s own Framework Document, it also undermined application of the state’s Childcare Guidelines,” he said.

Earlier, he said the latest statement from the Vatican Press Office, which denied it obstructed attempts to introduce mandatory reporting, was “disingenuous”.

Mr Shatter used his Dáil speech to confirm that he will bring forward and publish the headline items of a law to set up a National Vetting Bureau next week. If the law is passed, it will also allow for the sharing of suspicions, or soft information, relating to child abuse between state bodies.

“The vetting of persons for certain employment positions is currently available on a non-statutory basis. This bill will provide a legislative basis for existing arrangements.

“In line with the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, the bill will also provide for the disclosure of soft information for the purpose of child protection.”

During a cross-party motion on the Cloyne fallout, Mr Shatter also addressed the failures of members of the Garda to pursue investigations into abuse by priests in the diocese.

He said, while the vast majority of the police were not criticised, he had asked the Garda Ombudsman to probe those that were.

“Following consultations with the Garda Commissioner, I have sent the report to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to examine it as a matter of urgency and see whether any further action is warranted. That examination is taking place at present,” he said.

The Garda Inspectorate’s chief inspector, Kathy O’Toole, will also review the arrangements for dealing with child sexual abuse in light of the comments made in the Cloyne Report.

This will be built into the imminent report of the Garda which was requested after the publication of the initial Murphy Report into abuse in the Dublin archdiocese.

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