Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue has called for a nationwide audit of how allegations of abuse have been handled by Church and State in each Diocese in the country.
The Donegal North East TD has expressed grave concern following the findings of six reviews of child protection practices at six Dioceses around the country, revealing 164 allegations of abuse against 85 priests over a 35 year period. Deputy McConalogue has said the reviews were conducted by the Catholic Church’s own child protection watchdog, and we now need a full and independent investigation into how Church and State authorities dealt with these allegations of abuse.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “The report by the Catholic Church’s own child protection watchdog has revealed a shocking number of child abuse allegations in these six dioceses and a complete failure by the Church to adequately deal with several of these allegations. In the case of the Raphoe Dioceses, Bishop Boyce has himself acknowledged today that the protection of the reputation of the Church took precedence over the protection of children.
“These reports are a result of an internal Church audit and do not examine the role of the State authorities in handling allegations of abuse. Victims have not yet had the chance to have their voices heard. It is quite clear given the upsetting and disturbing revelations today that further investigations are needed.
“A HSE inquiry is still taking place in the handling of abuse allegations. This process has already taken six years and it must be expedited. In conjunction with this, I am calling on the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald to establish a full independent Commission of Investigation with a remit to assess the handling of child abuse allegations in all Diocese by both the Church and the State. Strict terms of reference must be set to ensure the extensive work carried out by the HSE is not duplicated and that the HSE findings facilitate the work of the new commission while allowing the voices of victims to be heard. Strict time-frames must also be set.
“The Minister for Children must take immediate action on this. Internal audits by the Church and the HSE are important but more needs to be done. Many of the survivors of abuse in these six reviews today have waited 35 years for their voices to be heard. They cannot wait any longer for the appropriate questions to be answered.”