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Diocese of Clonfert Child Safeguarding Statement

This statement has been prepared to comply with the requirements of the Children First Act

2015 and is derived from Safeguarding Children Policy and Standards for the Catholic Church in Ireland 2016. The policy of the Catholic Church in Ireland is based on standards and practice which contain indicators that assist in reaching these standards. These indicators can be used in assessing and managing risk.

Statement

‘The Diocese of Clonfert recognises and upholds the dignity and rights of all children. We are committed to ensuring their safety and well-being, and will work in partnership with parents/guardians to do this. We recognise each child as a gift from God, and we value and encourage the participation of children in all activities that enhance their spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual and social development.’

All Church personnel (including clergy, religious, staff and volunteers) have a responsibility to safeguard children through promoting their welfare, health and development in a safe and caring environment that supports their best interests and prevents abuse.

Nature of Service and Principles to Safeguard Children From Harm

The Diocese of Clonfert engages in the following ministry with children, as defined in Safeguarding Children Policy and standards for the Catholic Church in Ireland 2016:

  • Altar Servers
  • Children’s Choirs/Mixed Choirs
  • Children’s Liturgy Groups
  • Children’s Prayer Groups
  • Sacramental Preparation Programmes
  • Participation in youth groups and programmes;
  • Participation in retreats and pilgrimages.

 

As outlined in the Safeguarding Children 2016 Policy and Standards for the Catholic Church in Ireland we are committed to the following principles:

Mandatory Reporting

Each of us have a duty to notify the statutory authorities of suspicions, concerns, knowledge or allegations that a child is being or has been abused:

  • Physically
  • Emotionally
  • Sexually
  • Through neglect

Suspicions, concerns, knowledge or allegations may relate to possible abuse by a member of Church personnel, but they can also relate to incidents in the child’s family, or elsewhere in the community.

Caring for the welfare of all children and the adults who work with them.

Measures to create and maintain environments that are safe for children, that prevent abuse and that create nurturing, caring conditions within the Church for children and the adults who work with them, will continue to be strengthened and reviewed. This will be done through training, support, communications and quality assurance.

Responding appropriately to child protection suspicions, concerns, knowledge or allegations.

Anyone who brings any suspicion, concern, knowledge or allegation of current or past abuse of a child to the notice of the Church will be responded to sensitively, respectfully, actively and in a timely manner, in line with statutory child protection procedures and church requirements.

All suspicions, concerns, knowledge or allegations that reach the threshold for reporting to the statutory authorities (apart from those received in the Sacrament of Reconciliation) will be reported to the appropriate statutory authorities. This will be done irrespective of the status of the person (lay, cleric or religious) who is suspected of having been abusive to a child. If the allegation relates to a lay member of Church personnel, in addition to notifying the statutory authorities, the allegation must be reported to the Church authority. If the allegation relates to a cleric or religious, in addition to notifying the statutory authorities, the allegation must also be reported to the Church authority and the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland.

All Church personnel will cooperate with the statutory authorities in all cases.

In responding to complaints of child sexual abuse relating to clergy and all those in forms of consecrated life, Church authorities will act in accordance with the requirements of civil law and canon law, and so will respect the rights and uphold the safeguards afforded in these, both to the complainant and respondent.

Caring pastorally for complainants and other affected persons.

Those who have suffered child abuse by Church personnel will receive a compassionate and just response, and will be offered appropriate pastoral care, counselling and support as they seek to rebuild their lives. An appropriate pastoral response to the family, parish, congregation or order and to the wider community will be provided, with due regard to the right of privacy of those directly involved, and to the administration of justice.

Caring pastorally for respondents and other affected persons.

This Church body in its response to suspicions, concerns, knowledge or allegations of child sexual abuse will respect the rights under civil law and canon law of an accused cleric or religious or other Church personnel. A legal presumption of innocence will be maintained during the statutory and Church inquiry processes. As the processes develop, additional assessment, therapy and support services may be offered to the respondent.

The Church authority will take responsibility for ensuring that any cleric or religious who is considered to constitute a danger to children is managed according to a risk management plan.

All requisite steps will be taken to restore the good name and reputation of anyone who has been wrongly accused of abusing a child.

Respondents belong to families and diocesan or religious communities. The Church authority will be mindful of the need to provide support to members of families and communities affected by the respondent’s changed situation.

Risk Assessment

The table below sets out the identified risks to the safety of children and young people involved in Church activities in the Diocese of Clonfert and the steps taken to minimise the risks of abuse.

Risk Identified  Procedure in place to manage risk identified 
Risk of harm (as defined in the Children First  Act 2015) of a child by Church Personnel   Procedures to meet Indicator 1 .1 of the Child    

 Safeguarding Policy available from    

 www.safeguarding.ie 

Risk of harm through bullying (as defined in the Children First Act 2015) of a child by Church personnel or peers.  Procedures to meet Indicator 1.2 of the Child Safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie  

Procedures to meet Indicator 1 .3 of the Child 

Safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie 

The environment in which work with children is facilitated fails to protect them from harm (as defined in the Children First Act 2015)  Procedures to meet Indicator 1 .4 of the Child 

Safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie 

The environment in which work with children is facilitated fails to meet effective safeguarding practice  Procedures to meet Indicators 1 .4 and 1.8 of the Child Safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie 
External groups who use Church property are unsafe to do so  Procedures to meet Indicator 1 .5 of the Child safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie 
Risk of harm (as defined in the Children First Act 2015) to a child during activities or trips away from home, from Church personnel or other adults.  Procedures to meet Indicators 1 .6 an 1 .7 of the Child Safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie 
Risk of harm (as defined in the Children First Act 2015) through the use of digital media (photography, video and social media)  Procedures to meet Indicator 1 .9 of the Child Safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie 
Church personnel fail to report an allegation, suspicion, concern or knowledge appropriately  Procedures to meet Indicator 2.1 of the Child Safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie 
Church Personnel fail to take action during and following any investigation into allegations of abuse against clerics and religious to ensure children are protected from harm (as defined in the Children First Act 2015)  Procedures to meet indicators 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4 of the Child Safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie 
Church personnel fail to support those who are victims of abuse  Procedures to meet Indicators 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3 of the Child Safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie 
Church personnel fail to understand their responsibilities to safeguard children  Procedures to meet Indicators 5.1, 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 of the Child Safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie 
Children and their parents do not understand the Church’s policy, procedures and structure to safeguard children and protect them from harm (as defined in the Children First Act 2015)  Procedures to meet Indicators 5.5, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4 of the Child Safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie 
The procedures for safeguarding children from harm (as defined in the Children First Act 2015) fail to be implemented  Procedures to meet Indicators 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 of the Child Safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie 
The Church authority fails to ensure the appointment of a relevant person and maintain a list of mandated persons  Procedures to meeting Indicators 1 .1, 6.1 and 2.1 of the Child Safeguarding Policy available from www.safeguarding.ie 
Risk of harm of a child (as defined in the Children First Act 2015) being disclosed during the Sacrament of Reconciliation  Procedures to meet Indicator 2.1 of the Child Safeguarding Policy in relation to the Sacrament of Reconciliation available from www.safeguarding.ie 

 

Localised Risk Assessment 

Alongside the risks listed in the table above, all parishes/religious communities of the Diocese of Clonfert individually risk assess their activities with children and put in place procedures to manage these risks. 

Risk Identified  Procedures in place to manage risk identified 
Local activity with children is risk assessed in each location in which the activity takes place as part of Indicator 1.8 of Safeguarding Children Policy and Standards for the Catholic Church in Ireland 2016  For full details of localised risks and the procedures in place to manage these, please refer to 1.8A guidance on hazard assessment of activities with children at www.safeguarding.ie 

 

Procedures

All procedures outlined in the risk assessment above are available at www.safeguarding.ie. The procedures listed above include the following: 

  • Procedure for the management of allegations of abuse or misconduct against workers/ volunteers of a child availing of our service. This is part of Indicator 2.1 which is available from www.safeguarding.ie
  • Procedure for the safe recruitment and selection of workers and volunteers to work with children. This is part of Indicator 1 .1 available from www.safeguarding.ie
  • Procedure for provision of and access to child safeguarding training and information, including the identification of the occurrence of harm. This is part of Indicators 5.1, 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 available from www.safeguarding.ie
  • Procedure for the reporting of child protection or welfare concerns to Tusla. This is part of Indicator 2.1 which is available from www.safeguarding.ie
  • Procedure for maintaining a list of the persons (if any) in the relevant service who are mandated persons. This is part of Indicator 2.1 which is available from www.safeguarding.ie 
  • Procedure for appointing a relevant person. This is part of Indicators 1 .1 and 6.1 which is available from www.safeguarding.ie 
  • A copy of this Child Safeguarding Statement is available on request and online at www.clonfertdiocese.ie 

Implementation 

The Diocese of Clonfert is committed to safeguarding children through the implementation of Safeguarding Children Policy and Standards for the Catholic Church in Ireland 2016. This Child Safeguarding Statement and our practice supports our desire to keep children safe from harm while in our ministries. As part of our annual audit against the relevant indicators of the child safeguarding standards, we will review the effectiveness of our practice as outlined in this statement and will revise, as appropriate. 

Signed:  + Michael Duignan    

      Bishop of Clonfert 1st December 2020 

 

For any queries relating to this statement please contact  Ms Isabelle Mulkern, Co-ordinator of Safeguarding, Diocese of Clonfert at 083-8791745