Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Govt announces full inquiry into Cloyne child abuse allegations

Reports about child protection in the Catholic Church were published this afternoon.

The main body of the Health Service Executive audit deals with all dioceses in the Republic, while a second part is specific to complaints made in the Diocese of Cloyne.

Read the audit here

Three years ago, the Ferns report showed how the Catholic Church in that diocese failed to deal properly with allegations of child abuse by its priests.

The Government then started to look at how other dioceses dealt with child abuse.

It wanted to know if the church is following child protection guidelines put in place after the Ferns report - for example, if it is passing allegations of child abuse on to gardaí.

Today, the HSE published its report, an audit of all Catholic church dioceses' practices on child safety, which is based on a questionnaire.

A secondary report looks in particular at the diocese of Cloyne, which covers most of rural Co Cork, and at how that diocese dealt with specific complaints of child abuse.

An investigation by the church has already said that the Bishop of Cloyne, Dr John Magee, failed to act properly and that his actions put children at risk and were dangerous.

* * * * *

Minister for Children Barry Andrews is to refer the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne to a commission investigating clerical abuse in the Dublin archdiocese.

Mr Andrews was speaking at a press conference to mark the publication of a Health Service Executive (HSE) audit which examined the child-protection policies and protocols in every Catholic diocese in the State.

The audit, which was based on a questionnaire, includes detailed information on complaints and allegations of child sexual abuse against members of the clergy. The Minister said he had decided to refer Cloyne to the commission even though the audit concluded that there was no need to refer any diocese.

The audit raised concerns about the adequacy of child-protection in a number of dioceses, but particularly in Cloyne.

Mr Andrews said that he had based his decision on the fact that at the time the audit questionnaire was completed, the diocese was handling a complaint in relation to child abuse, which it had failed to notify to the HSE.

"I believe that there is evidence that points to the fact that Bishop [John] Magee, as the responsible person, did not faithfully report actual compliance with child protection procedures and the manner in which clerical sexual abuse allegations have been dealt with," said Mr Andrews.

"Accordingly, the Government has taken the decision to notify the Cloyne Diocese to the Commission of Investigation into the Dublin Archdiocese to carry out an examination of the Diocese (of Cloyne).

"In a post Ferns Inquiry environment, it is unacceptable that full and faithful reporting of child sexual abuse allegations should not take place," he added.

Cloyne, which covers most of rural Co Cork, has already been the subject of a separate report which criticised its handling of abuse allegations levelled against members of the clergy. The report was conducted by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSC), a body set up by, but independent of the Catholic Church.

The Bishop of Cloyne John Magee recently apologised to victims of clerical sex abuse after the report found his diocese had put children at risk of harm through an "inability" to respond appropriately to abuse allegations. The Bishop has faced a large number of calls for his resignation but has signalled his intention to remain.

The terms of reference of that commission allow it to widen its investigations to look at other dioceses if there is evidence that they did failed to uphold guidelines and protocols that emerged in the wake of the 2005 report into clerical sexual abuse in the Ferns diocese

According to the audit, all dioceses stated that they operated a Child Protection policy and furnished copies of their policies to the HSE.

The audit said that a number of issues were raised by Bishops regarding procedures for reporting possible cases of clerical abuse to the HSE and Gardaí.

All Bishops affirmed that cases of possible or known abuse are notified "without delay". Furthermore, each diocese reported that they have a designated person to whom allegations or suspicions of child sexual abuse are reported and that written records were kept.

Bishops also affirmed that were reasonable grounds exist, action is taken to protect children from possible abuse by an alleged perpetrator.

The audit notes that the majority of dioceses said they had a child protection training programme in place but the HSE stated that it was "disappointing" that a minority of dioceses had not such programmes.

The audit reported that the historical managerial division or autonomy of dioceses entails the HSE to conduct separate audit questionnaires essentially means that a Bishop may be unaware that reports of suspected child abuse have been made to the executive or gardaí. It recommended that the church authorities should address this issue.

* * * * *

A full inquiry has been ordered into allegations of clerical child abuse at the Diocese of Cloyne in Cork.

The Cabinet has decided to refer the matter to the commission investigating complaints of abuse at the Dublin Archdiocese.

The Minister for Children announced the decision this afternoon at the publication of a nationwide audit into the Catholic Church's adherence to child protection measures.

The HSE report does not recommend that any diocese in the country is referred to the Dublin Commission, but Minister Barry Andrews said the Government believed further investigation of Cloyne is necessary:

"I believe there is evidence that points to the fact that Bishop Magee, as the responsible person, did not faithfully report actual compliance with child protection procedures and the manner in which clerical sexual abuse allegations have been dealt with," the minister said. "Accordingly, the Government has taken the decision to notify the Cloyne Diocese to the Commission Investigation into the Dublin Archdiocese to carry out an investigation as regards to Cloyne."

* * * * *

A full inquiry has been ordered into allegations of clerical child abuse at the Diocese of Cloyne in Cork.

The Cabinet has decided to refer the matter to the commission investigating complaints of abuse at the Dublin Archdiocese.

The Minister for Children announced the decision this afternoon at the publication of a nationwide audit into the Catholic Church's adherence to child protection measures.

The HSE report does not recommend that any diocese in the country is referred to the Dublin Commission, but Minister Barry Andrews said the Government believed further investigation of Cloyne is necessary.

“I believe there is evidence that points to the fact that Bishop Magee, as the responsible person, did not faithfully report actual compliance with child protection procedures and the manner in which clerical sexual abuse allegations have been dealt with,” the minister said.

“Accordingly, the Government has taken the decision to notify the Cloyne Diocese to the Commission Investigation into the Dublin Archdiocese to carry out an investigation as regards to Cloyne.”
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(Source: IT/RTÉ/II)

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