The Review of Safeguarding Practice in the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly has given a ringing endorsement to the measures taken by Archbishop Dermot Clifford who has been praised for his leadership and for his giving of support to victims.
The comprehensive report which was published this week, was undertaken by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church of Ireland to confirm that current safeguarding practice complies with the standards set down.
The report contains the findings of the review and is based upon the case material made available by Archbishop Clifford and his safeguarding team, along with interviews with selected key personnel who contribute to safeguarding within the archdiocese. The NBSCCCI states in the report that it believes that all relevant documentation for these cases was passed to the reviewers and Archbishop Clifford confirms this. Indeed, the review was undertaken at the request of Archbishop Clifford. On-site fieldwork took place on May 20/21st and consisted of a series of interviews with diocesan personnel and external safeguarding agenices and a full case file review of all allegations against living and deceased priests.
The initial two day fieldwork was then supplemented with a review of all written policies, procedures, guidance documents and statistical information contained in the Archdiocese. The report published is the product of a critique of all the information obtained.
The review process uses seven standards set out in documentation as an assessment framework. It highlights the findings by the fieldworkers under each standard and draws conclusions regarding the effectiveness of policies and practices in the Archdiocese to prevent abuse, as well as the ability of the relevant personnel to assess and manage risk to children. Where appropriate, recommendations for improvements were made - a total of seven recommendations in total. ( See below)
In terms of a written policy on keeping children safe ( Standard 1) the reviewers noted that all allegations are now promptly referred to the civil authorities, usually within three days of receipt by the Archdiocese. And, it notes the considerable communiciation between the designated person, Gardai and the HSE. However, one area where the written guidelines need to be more explicit relates to safety plans. There are safety plans in place in files, but an absence of guidance on these within the policy document.
Under management of allegations ( Standard 2) the Archdiocese was fully compliant.
Some interesting figures under this heading:
13 - the number of diocesan priests against whom allegations have been made since 1975.
19 - the number of allegations made and reported to An Garda Siochana.
16 - The number reported to the HSE and Health Board.
7 -the number of priests, still members of the Archdiocese, against whom an allegation was made and who were living at the time of the review.
6 - number of priests against whom an allegation was made and who are deceased.
5 - number of priests against whom an allegation was made and are still in ministry.
2 - number of priests against whom an allegation was made and who are out of ministry, but still members of the Archdiocese.
0 -number priests against whom an allegation has been made and are retired.
0- number of priests who have been convicted of committing an offence or offences against a child or young person.
0- number of priests against whom an allegation was made and who have left the priesthood/Archdiocese.
Under this section the review makes four recommendations and is critical of the pace of response from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican to the Archbishop, accounting for delays in the processing of cases canonically.
Preventing harm to children (Standard 3) was fully met under all criteria and one recommendation made. The review commends the work of the safeguarding committee and states that the Archbishop is fortunate to have such high calibre and enthusiastic people involved.
Training and education (Standard 4) and communicating the Church’s safeguarding message ( Standard 5) were full compliant as was implementing and monitoring standards (Standard 7)
However, access and advice to support (Standard 6) needed attention according to reviewers and a recommendation was made.
See below to a full rundown on the seven recommendations made in the review.