THE former head of the Roman Catholic Church's
child-safeguarding body in Ireland, Ian Elliott, has accused some
elements in the Church of cutting funding to the National Board for
the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland
(NBSCCCI), to hinder further investigations.
He said that some religious bodies used covert means to
undermine the board's work by reducing funding from €678,000 in
2010 to €596,000 in 2012. In his six-year tenure, he issued several
scathing reports of diocesan neglect of sex-abuse allegations.
His work had led to the resignation of one Bishop, Dr John
Magee, of Cloyne, and a clash with another, the Bishop of Down
& Connor, Dr Noel Traynor, who had accused him of using spin
against the RC Church to the media. When this claim was
investigated and found to have no basis by a former Supreme Court
judge, Catherine McGuinness, who is a prominent Anglican, Dr
Traynor withdrew the allegation.
A Presbyterian and native of Northern Ireland, Mr Elliott
resigned his post as Chief Executive last year.
The chairman of the Irish government's Health and Children
Committee, Jerry Buttimer, said at the weekend: "It is a very
serious issue. I would be disappointed if the national board was
downsized or in any way undermined."
On Tuesday, senior sources within the Catholic Church in Ireland
said that investment in child-protection resources had been
increased: "The Church has always stated, quite publicly, that it
supports the work of the NBSCCCI.
"Child safeguarding involves the individual dioceses,
congregations, and missionary societies' putting in place teams and
resources to ensure best practice is established and maintained.
Part of our role is to monitor that this is so.
"If the Board became concerned that it did not have sufficient
resources to carry out that work, we would take it up with the
Church directly, and ensure that we were correctly funded. With the
coming into post . . . of Teresa Devlin as CEO, an early meeting
between the board and the sponsoring bodies has already been
scheduled, at which development of board resources and its
medium-term objectives will be discussed."
"The evidence of our audits is that the various arms of the
Church are making huge progress in putting in place reliable
child-protection provisions. Where we have identified poor
practice, it has been addressed.
"What's more, because the audits are published, everyone is in a
position to see what good practice should be, where this has been
reached, where it has not, and what is required to rectify or