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Review of Safeguarding Practice in the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin by NBSCCCI

Statement by Monsignor Brendan Byrne, Diocesan Administrator

 “In welcoming the publication of this review I wish to reaffirm the commitment of our diocese to be fully accountable to the highest safeguarding standards”.

Monsignor Brendan Byrne

The publication today of the review of Safeguarding Practice in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin prompts us to be mindful once again of the stories of people who have suffered great pain over many years. My thoughts today are with the survivors of abuse and with their families and I respectfully apologize to them for the hurt and offence they have carried and are still carrying.

On behalf of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin I want to thank the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) for conducting such a thorough review of the Safeguarding Practice in the diocese. As the report details, 18 allegations of sexual abuse were made against 10 priests of this diocese in the period covered by this review (January 1975 to May 2012). These allegations involve 8 deceased priests and two living priests who remain out of ministry. Both the Gardaí and HSE have been notified of all allegations and I want to thank them both for their work with us on all these matters. This diocese remains committed to working in partnership with statutory authorities to ensure that all aspects of children’s and young people’s welfare is managed promptly, professionally and justly.

While the review comments that the diocese ‘has had relatively few cases to deal with’ (in the last ten years this diocese has had to respond to one allegation against a serving priest of this diocese), it makes a series of recommendations so that this diocese can ‘develop its current structures to make them more robust’. I accept in full the recommendations proposed in this review. Along with this statement, I am today publishing a schedule for how this diocese intends to fulfil the twelve recommendations in this report. This work has already begun. We look forward to welcoming the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) back to the diocese in the coming months to review the completion of this schedule.

While very significant progress has been made in creating and sustaining a culture of safety for children and young people in parish and diocesan activities this review challenges and encourages us to attain the highest standards possible. In welcoming the publication of this review I wish to reaffirm the commitment of our diocese to be fully accountable to the highest safeguarding standards.

I would like to thank all those who are involved in the work of Safeguarding in this diocese. May the Lord continue to inspire us in this vital work. In conclusion we pray again for the gift of healing and peace, particularly for those wounded by the deep wrong of child abuse.

Msgr. Brendan Byrne, Carlow, Sept 5th 2012.

Notes

The figures that there are allegations against two living K&L priests and 8 deceased is already in the public domain. In statement issued after the Cloyne report, Monsignor Byrne explained the figures as they had been submitted as part of the HSE audit. This statement is on the diocesan website – www.kandle.ie

Kildare & Leighlin annually accounts for expenditure in regard to safeguarding costs. As previously announced this diocese has spent €115,617 on Safeguarding covering counselling, training, legal fees and insurance. In 2009 Bishop Moriarty published figures in regard to two settlements – see below. This statement is available on the diocesan website – www.kandle.ie

Settlements

• The diocese has contributed to the settlement of two civil cases involving priests of this diocese

• In 2004 the diocese contributed to a financial settlement in a civil case involving a deceased priest of this diocese. At the time of his death in 2002, this priest was facing very serious criminal charges but died before the scheduled trial took place. The diocese contributed a total of 133,835. As was the practice at the time, the diocese received 90% of this payment from the Stewardship Trust.

• The diocese contributed a total of 175,000 to the settlement of a civil case against the priest of this diocese who was convicted in the courts in 2009. A further 24,300 was also paid in legal fees in 2009 along with 27,359 in 2008. A combined total of 226,659.

Media Contact

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Schedule for responding to the 12 recommendations in the NBSCCCI review of Safeguarding Practice in the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin (May 2012)

1. That when the Kildare and Leighlin Diocesan Child Protection Committee’s current review of the Diocesan Safeguarding Children Policy and Procedures is completed, Monsignor Byrne will ensure that they are consistent with Children First, 2011, and with the HSE guidance document, Child Protection and Welfare Practice Handbook, 2011.

4. That in the context of the publication of the revised edition of the Diocesan Safeguarding Children: Policy and Procedures Monsignor Byrne should convene a Kildare and Leighlin Diocese Child Safeguarding Workshop to be attended by all personnel involved in diocesan child safeguarding activities, at which a five-year diocesan Child Safeguarding Plan would be drawn up. This plan should include the formal appointment of people to key roles with clear remits and systems of accountability.

The work of reviewing of Diocesan Policy and Procedures was already underway. This is expected to complete in the coming term. The recommended workshop will be called immediately upon completion and the five year plan will be published before the end of 2012.

2. That Monsignor Byrne appoint a lay Deputy Designated Person to act as an understudy to the current Designated Person for a period of six months and who he would thereafter appoint as Designated Person.

3. That Monsignor Byrne appoints a suitably qualified person to coordinate all child safeguarding activities in the Kildare and Leighlin Diocese.

10. That Monsignor Byrne appoint two Support Persons for Victims of clerical sexual abuse, one female and one male, and arrange appropriate training for them.

In the meantime, the appointments recommended in the review will be made so that these personnel are in post in time for the Diocesan Safeguarding workshop (2).

 5. That Monsignor Byrne initiates an audit of all diocesan files in all locations to ensure that the central filing system in the Diocesan Offices contains every document that refers in any way to a child safeguarding concern about a priest.

This audit will be completed before the end of 2012 with the assistance of our new appointees (2 and 3).

 6. That Monsignor Byrne directs the Diocesan Advisory Panel to ensure that all comments / recommendations of the July 2006 file review report are identified, reviewed and acted upon, as a matter of urgency.

8. That Monsignor Byrne supports and assists the Advisory Panel to develop clear Terms of Reference, a clear methodology for its work and a 12-month plan for its activities, to include joint training and development activities for its membership. This panel should meet regularly to build up its identity and sense of cohesion, as well as its expertise. The Advisory Panel should methodically and comprehensively review the management of all cases of clerical child sexual abuse that have been handled by the diocese with a view to addressing all outstanding case management issues.

9. That Monsignor Byrne ensures that the Designated Person is responsible for the presentation of cases to the panel and that he becomes an integral part of the panel, so as to enable fuller assessment and management of risk as required of the Advisory Panel.

The work of developing the role of the Advisory Panel will begin immediately.

7. That Monsignor Byrne arrange annual meetings between An Garda Síochána, the HSE, the Diocesan Designated Person, the Diocesan Chancellor and himself at which all child safeguarding file material in the possession of the diocese would be shared with the two statutory agencies; and at which an agreed interagency approach to information sharing and case management would be agreed for future use.

An annual meeting will be arranged.

11. That the Safeguarding Committee keeps Garda Vetting in Kildare and Leighlin Diocese under ongoing review to ensure that a robust system is in place to administer this important child safeguarding process.

12. That Monsignor Byrne develops a comprehensive Child Safeguarding Communications Plan, including the use of all appropriate print and electronic media, which will ensure that regular clear and accurate child safeguarding information is made available to children, young people and adults across the diocese.

Garda vetting and Communications will be reviewed as part of the broad review that will take place in coming months (4) and will feature in the expected 5 year plan.