- “Impressive as this production is; it is at its most impressive when it is implemented, day-in and day-out, in our parishes. It is impressive when it provides the framework that helps to create a safer environment for our young people in all Church related activities. It is impressive when it means that each young person feels safe and welcome and has a sense of belonging in our Church communities.”
- “The present level of awareness and action in ensuring that our Church is a safe place for children is the result of the bravery of those who called attention to our failures in the past” – Bishop Duffy
Bishop Francis Duffy launched the updated ‘Safeguarding Children: Policies and Procedures for the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois’ in Saint Mel’s College, Longford, today, Tuesday 8 April. This publication is a revised edition of the 2010 Safeguarding Children Policy. The updated document is part of the ongoing work in the diocese to maintain good practice in all activities with children. It is a comprehensive manual that includes new policies on Record Keeping, Anti-Bullying, Whistle-blowing, Complaints, Training and Education for Safeguarding, Confidentiality, Communicating the Church’s Safeguarding Message and Implementing and Monitoring Standards. It also documents revised policies for Recruitment and for Responding and Reporting to Child Protection Allegations and Suspicions of Abuse. Resources for use by those working with young people are provided, including the Safeguarding Policy Agreement that must be signed by all staff and volunteers involved with children. Codes of Behaviour for Adults and Children are outlined and practical guidance on the use of computers, mobile phones, photography and video is incorporated into the Appendix. The document ends with a useful Safeguarding Checklist for Parishes.
The central message of the document reflected in the policy statement is that “the welfare of children is paramount” and that “the diocese will endeavour to ensure that children are respected and safe in the course of their participation in all church activities”. The Policy Statement clearly indicates that the diocese values and actively encourages young people to be involved in their local Church.
‘Safeguarding Children: Policies and Procedures for the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois’ is a working document and will be continually revised to ensure practice is in line with guidelines from the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church and from The Child and Family Agency (Tusla). Local Safeguarding Representatives in the various parishes carry out the important task of promoting the implementation of the policies throughout the diocese.
The Diocesan Designated Liaison Persons for Safeguarding, Diocesan Safeguarding Committee, Safeguarding Trainers, Local Safeguarding Representatives, Clergy, members of Parish Pastoral Councils and Youth Workers attended the launch.
Updates on recent developments in safeguarding children in the Catholic Church and in State Agencies were provided by Sister Colette Stevenson from the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, Ms Maria Larkin the Midlands Area Manager for the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) and Sergeant Jim Gould from the Garda Vetting Office in Templemore.
Bishop Francis Duffy also addressed the gathering saying: “The present level of awareness and action in ensuring that our Church is a safe place for children is the result of the bravery of those who called attention to our failures in the past”. He emphasised the challenge that is involved in translating the revised policy into action. He also acknowledged the great work that continues to be carried out in this area and thanked all those involved, including Bishop Colm Reilly, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, who initiated the revision of the policy document.
Notes to Editors:
- Please find below the full text of the address of Bishop Duffy at today’s launch
- ‘Safeguarding Children: Policies and Procedures for the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois’ is available to download on the diocesan website: www.ardaghdiocese.com
- The Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois includes nearly all of County Longford, the greater part of County Leitrim and parts of Counties Cavan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath.
Address of Bishop Francis Duffy at the Safeguarding Policy Launch
This revised edition of ‘Safeguarding Children: Policies and Procedures for the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois’ is an impressive production. Its purpose is to set out our policy on safeguarding children and to provide clear guidelines on its implementation. At the outset I wish to acknowledge the work and initiative of my predecessor, Bishop Colm O’Reilly, in commissioning this review. He is a strong and consistent advocate of safeguarding children.
I would like to quote from the Foreword “The present level of awareness and action in ensuring that our Church is a safe place for children is the result of the bravery of those who called attention to our failures of the past. Their suffering and their stories have borne fruit in a robust system of safeguarding”. Children suffered because of abuse and because of inaction; our response must always be one of vigilance and care.
Impressive as this production is; it is at its most impressive when it is implemented, day-in and day-out, in our parishes. It is impressive when it provides the framework that helps to create a safer environment for our young people in all Church related activities. It is impressive when it means that each young person feels safe and welcome and has a sense of belonging in our Church communities.
I wish to thank Mr Paddy Gannon and Ms Edel Burke for writing our revised policies and guidelines. Both brought with them to their undertaking expertise they gained over many years in child safeguarding management with the HSE.
Deep gratitude goes to the present and past members of the Diocesan Safeguarding Committee and also to those who provide training in safeguarding in our diocese: Sr Una and Mrs Evelyn Breen. I thank our Safeguarding Representatives in all our parishes. I thank you for your concern, your generosity of time and your determination that children are safe in our communities. I thank our two Designated Liaison Persons in safeguarding: Ms Roisin O’Doherty and Mr Sean Leydon.
I thank our priests who help to implement these procedures. I think I should mention that our priests have witnessed many changes because of concerns about child safety, they have been to the fore in contributing to and implementing all these procedures that call for changes in how many practices in parishes operate, from the recruitment of volunteers to Garda vetting.
Moving from the all-important local scene to the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church. I am very happy to welcome Sister Colette Stephenson from the National Board. I congratulate Ms Teresa Devlin on her appointment as the new Chief Executive Officer. I thank the Board for its very professional and swift advice on safeguarding issues. Its expertise and independence give a great measure of reassurance to parents and the community that standards are met and implemented. I also welcome the representatives of the two statutory authorities: Sergeant Jim Gould of the Garda Siochana and Ms Maria Larkin of the Child and Family Agency, Tusla. Their role in safeguarding children in the State is central to all initiatives and processes. They hold us to account and are uncompromising in the standards of care and safeguarding that we have a duty to meet.
You notice that the revised production is not in book form but is a well organised folder. There cannot be a full stop at the end of any collection of policies and procedures because there is no final word on safeguarding children. It is an ongoing process that is part and parcel of Church life. I’m sure that twenty-five years ago such policies and procedures were in operation in few, if any places, in the Catholic Church; now it is unthinkable to be without them. Safeguarding our young people is a daily reality, providing a safe environment for them. Safeguarding means that we have to be ready to learn from the present and to make any necessary changes in the future. Child safeguarding is not yesterday’s news, it is today’s news and tomorrow’s news.
I am very happy to launch this ‘Safeguarding Children: Policies and Procedures’ to guide us, to challenge us and to direct us in our care for the youngest members of our Catholic communities.
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