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Safeguarding body’s funds cut

21 February 2014

SHUTTERSTOCK

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 maintain it."

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