Diocese of Kilmore hosts safeguarding children conference

24 May 2012

Diocese of Kilmore hosts safeguarding children conference

“I am committed to the objective that our work in safeguarding children will do everything possible to ensure that abuse within the Church can never happen again” – Bishop Leo O’Reilly
“Good leadership and a sound set of policies and procedures are essential ingredients to effective safeguarding.  It is also vitally important to have in place good working relationships with the key statutory child protection agencies” – Mr Ian Elliott

Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Bishop of Kilmore; Mr Ian Elliott, Chief Executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church; Mr Gerry Lowry, HSE Child Care Manager, Cavan/Monaghan; and Superintendent James Coen of the Garda Síochána Cavan division will this evening address the Kilmore Diocesan Safeguarding Conference.  The first diocesan safeguarding conference took place in 2009 and will become an annual event.  The safeguarding conference will take place this evening in the Diocesan Pastoral Centre in Cavan Town.  See presentation papers by Bishop Leo O’Reilly and Mr Ian Elliott below.

This safeguarding conference arises from the recommendations of the Review of Safeguarding Practice which was undertaken by the National Board for Safeguarding Children last year.  Published on 30 November 2011, the full text of the review is available on http://www.kilmorediocese.ie/images/safeguardin_documents/KILMORE_FINAL_REPORT_PDF.pdf   The purpose of Kilmore Diocesan Safeguarding Children Conference this evening is threefold:

–    To communicate the safeguarding message in regard to our diocesan policy, procedures and the safeguarding structure in every parish of the diocese.
–    To launch the updated diocesan safeguarding children policy manual and introduce our updated safeguarding children newsletter.
–    To thank the diocesan personnel, over 200 people, who give of their time, energy and talents in order to safeguard children and young people who participate in Catholic Church activities in the diocese.


Notes for Editors

•    About the Diocese of Kilmore: Bishop Leo O’Reilly is Bishop of Kilmore. There are 64 priests active within the diocese which has a Catholic population of 62,438 (2011 figures).  The diocese consists of 36 parishes with 95 churches and includes almost all of County Cavan and a portion of Counties Leitrim, Fermanagh, Meath and Sligo.  The Patron Saints of the Diocese of Kilmore are Saint Patrick and Saint Felim.  The Cathedral of Saints Patrick and Felim is located in Cavan town.

For media contact:
•    Father Francis Duffy, Kilmore Diocesan Secretary on 049 433 1496 and/or the Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth 00 353 1 5053017.
•    Photographs from the event will be made available to media who require them and please contact John McElroy photography on 00 353 (0) 87 241 6985.

(1)    Presentation by Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Bishop of Kilmore.  See also www.kilmorediocese.ie

I want to join Teresa, the Chairperson of our Diocesan Safeguarding Children Committee, in welcoming you all here this evening to what will from now on be our Annual Safeguarding Children Conference. The launch of our updated policy manual Safeguarding Children in the Diocese of Kilmore, Policies and Procedures marks yet another important stage on our journey of ensuring that children and young people are safe when they take part in Church activities.  We are also launching an updated Newsletter with basic information, which I hope will find its way to every home in the diocese.

Ministry to children is central to our pastoral mission to spread the Good News of Jesus. A key element of this ministry is valuing and encouraging the participation of children in parish and diocesan activities. Our updated policy manual is a tangible expression of our commitment to safeguard children throughout the diocese. I wish to assure young people and their parents and guardians that the Church in Kilmore is a safe environment for children. I hope they will always find it a welcoming, positive and encouraging place to worship, meet and work with others.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) was established in 2006 to provide advice on best practice in safeguarding children in the Church across both jurisdictions of Ireland.   In 2009 the NBSCCCI developed seven standards which represent the expected level of performance that all parts of the Church should reach.  Meeting these seven standards will protect children by ensuring that they are in a safe environment and minimising risk of abuse to them.  They will protect Church personnel by clarifying how they are expected to behave with children and what to do if there are allegations and suspicions about the safety of a child.  They will protect the integrity of the Church and its mission by making clear its commitment to keeping children safe and by modelling best practice.

I would like to take this opportunity of paying tribute to the National Board and their staff and in particular Mr Ian Elliott for the tremendous work they have done in a very short time and with limited resources to put these policies and procedures in place. I want to thank them for their great support, availability and advice, not just in preparing the new manual, but at all times. I thank Ian for his kind words about me and also for the great encouragement that the Review of Safeguarding in the Diocese gave to all of us involved in this work. I would also like to thank the HSE and the Gardaí for their support and assistance, especially in the area of dealing with allegations and complaints.

The safeguarding children procedures outlined in our updated manual Safeguarding Children in the Diocese of Kilmore, Policies and Procedures are compiled in accordance with the National Board’s Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland.  It seeks to incorporate best practice as found in the civil documents, Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, 2011 and Cooperating to Safeguard Children. Our new manual includes new information and updated policies and procedures. It is presented in loose leaf format to facilitate copying and to make it easier to update policies and procedures in the future.  This manual, forms etc, are available to download from our diocesan website.

I want to pay tribute to the Diocesan Safeguarding Committee and their chairperson Teresa Carroll for their work in producing this new handbook for the diocese. I want to say a special word of thanks to our Diocesan Co-ordinator, Suzie Duffy, and to her co-trainer Lucy Ó Mórdha, for the huge amount of work they have done in drafting the new handbook and getting it printed. I think you will agree that, as well as being a very comprehensive guide to policy and practice, it is beautifully designed, very attractive and user friendly.  For that we are indebted, as we have been on many other occasions, to Mr Ray Fadden whose generosity and attention to detail know no bounds.

On a practical note: As you are aware, new parish pastoral councils are due to be put in place this autumn and if the safeguarding children members of these councils change please ensure that you pass on this manual to them.  I was very happy to read in the report of the Review of the Diocese of Kilmore completed by the National Board last November that ‘the overall view of current practice is that it is of a consistently high standard’ and ‘some of the notable features within Kilmore were the enthusiasm and commitment of staff and volunteers’. This is as result of the hard work and commitment of the safeguarding personnel within the diocese, yourselves.  There are over two hundred people who have specific roles in safeguarding children and young people and this is not to talk about leaders, volunteers and parents at parish level who all have roles to play in safeguarding. I want to say a very sincere ‘thank you’ to these 200 and more people.  I have already mentioned the Diocesan Safeguarding Children Committee. There is also the Advisory Panel, the Coordinator of Safeguarding Children and the Trainers, the Diocesan Designated Persons, and the Support People. Finally, at the coal face, at parish level, there are the Priests, the Parish Safeguarding Children Representatives and the members of Recruitment Committees. I thank you all for your ongoing commitment, energy and giving of your time to ensure that our safeguarding policy and procedures are implemented at diocesan and parish level.

It has been the practice of the diocese to publish statistics concerning allegations of abuse on an annual basis. It is my intention to do so again later this year.

Sadly, safeguarding structures and procedures came too late to protect the many people who suffered abuse at the hands of priests and religious in the past. I once more express my profound sorrow and regret to those who have suffered abuse in the Church and thereby experienced a terrible betrayal of sacred trust. I am committed to the objective that our work in safeguarding children will do everything possible to ensure that abuse within the Church can never happen again.

(2)    Presentation by Mr Ian Elliott – Chief Executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland.  See also www.safeguarding.ie

May I begin by thanking you for the invitation to speak to you this evening and to congratulate you on the conference.  It is an interesting and commendable initiative and I would wish to congratulate you on it.

It is good to have the opportunity to talk directly to so many people who are involved in providing safeguarding services for the Church.  The safeguarding framework that exists within the Church is, to a very great degree, volunteer lead and I always welcome the opportunity of being able to thank those people who are part of that framework and who give of their time so generously to take forward this very important work of the Church.

Last year I had the opportunity of being involved in a review of safeguarding practice within the diocese and of having the opportunity to meet a number of you at that time.  It was very interesting and rewarding for me to be able to see first-hand the very good work which is taking place within this diocese.  There is great commitment and enthusiasm for the task of effectively safeguarding children.  I commented on this in the Review report which was published by the diocese in November last.

Good safeguarding practice within any Church authority requires sound policies and procedures.  I would wish to congratulate you on those which are in place now within this diocese.  I believe they represent best practice and, if followed and applied, they will ensure that children are well protected within the diocese.

Along with sound safeguarding policies and procedures it is also vitally important to have good leadership.  Within the Diocese of Kilmore you are particularly fortunate to have Bishop Leo O’Reilly in post to support your work and also to ensure that from the very top sound safeguarding practice is prioritised.  Inevitably within the area of safeguarding children there are challenging and difficult decisions that have to be made.  It is gratifying to report to you, as I did last year, that Bishop O’Reilly provides excellent leadership for the diocese in this regard.

Good leadership and a sound set of policies and procedures are essential ingredients to effective safeguarding.  It is also vitally important to have in place good working relationships with the key statutory child protection agencies of the Gardaí and of the HSE.  It is gratifying to see both those agencies represented here tonight which is evidence of the respect and commitment that those agencies have for the safeguarding work which takes place within the diocese.

I believe the future for vulnerable children within the Diocese of Kilmore is as secure as it can be through the combination of good safeguarding practice within the diocese and the support of the statutory agencies.  This formula is one that is tried and tested and represents the best chance that the Church has for addressing and eliminating the difficulties that they have had and experienced in previous years.

Once again I thank you for the opportunity to share this evening with you and I wish you continued success in terms of your work.