Diocesan child protection reports to be published

SIX separate reports on child protection measures in Catholic dioceses in Ireland will be published today.

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 Clonmacnoise were carried out by Ian Elliot, chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland.

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

The cleric moved parish eight times during 25 years of abuse 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, is expected to face questions over his handling of Fr Greene.

The reports, examining child protection changes since 1975, will set out efforts to safeguard youngsters in the dioceses.

However, a spokesman for the Raphoe Diocese admitted that the report will not go into specific details of the “terrible deeds done by priests”.

Michael Keane of Insight PR Consultants said the report was more about putting the right procedures in place for the future.

But he stressed it will not contain the level of detailed sex abuse some victims may have been expecting.

“It will not be like other clerical sex abuse reports, where there will be huge chapters on all sorts of terrible deeds done by priests.

“It will be an audit of the procedures which were put in place over the years and it will highlight the mistakes and ensure the right procedures are put in place going forward,” he said.

But the man who first exposed the horrific chapter of sex abuse in the Catholic Church, former Gda Det Martin Ridge, said the report was “another slap in the face for victims”.

“Some of these people have been waiting decades for justice and now they are being told they will not get it,” he said.

“The Church and the people in it had more than enough time to compile this report and cover every last inch of what happened in Raphoe but that is not going to happen.”

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

It is hoped Mr Elliot’s audit of all 26 dioceses in Ireland will be completedby mid-2012.

* Anyone affected is urged to call the HSE National Counselling Service on 1800 303 529 or the National Rape Crisis on 1800 778 888.

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