Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, William Lee, has welcomed the findings of the Review of Safeguarding Practice in his diocese, which covers Waterford and parts of Tipperary.
He also apologises to any children who may have suffered abuse by Church personnel and adds that if there are any people who wish to make a complaint he again invites them to contact the diocese, or the civil authorities, so that everything possible can be done to help them.
In the wake of the review conducted by Ian Elliott and the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, Bishop Lee offers sincere apologies to all who have suffered as a result of abuse by Church personnel.
“To the survivors of child abuse, I wish to say that our thoughts and prayers are with you today. No words of apology or any gesture of repentance or sorrow can ever make up for the enormous damage you have suffered. I am truly sorry for what happened to you and I pray that the Lord Jesus will heal you and bring hope, love and peace back into your lives”.
The review team commends “the safeguarding personnel for their energy, maturity and diligence in putting in place good systems and practice in child safeguarding” and strongly commends Bishop Lee for his personal commitment, leadership and absolute desire to keep children safe”.
The Report follows a full review in late October last year of case files in the diocese as well as interviews with key personnel involved in the diocesan safeguarding service and also with senior personnel in the Gardaí and the H.S.E.
Bishop Lee commented - “I welcome the positive outcome of this Review. The Report will be a source of reassurance to the people of the diocese and will confirm that the diocese is taking its obligations in relation to child safeguarding very seriously. “The culture and practice of the diocese … demonstrates that total commitment to ensuring that child safeguarding is a major priority.
“The aims of the Review were to determine if current safeguarding practice complies with the standards set out by the National Board and if all known allegations and concerns have been dealt with appropriately.
“Both the Gardaí and the H.S.E. have been made aware of all allegations and I want to thank both bodies for their work with us on our cases. The diocese remains committed, through our inter-agency meetings, to working with the statutory authorities to ensure that all aspects of children and young people’s welfare are managed promptly and professionally.
“The Review Team endorses our Diocesan Policy and Procedures - “The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland is satisfied that the Waterford and Lismore Policy and Procedures meet the expected standards and that diocesan personnel are actively engaged in ensuring full implementation of those important safeguards as well as identifying how the policies can be improved”. The National Boards Standards contain 48 criteria – indicators as to whether standards have been met. The Review found that 43 out of the 48 criteria have been fully met. The other 5 have been partially met. These 5 are being addressed currently.
“In addition, the Report includes six recommendations towards improving our safeguarding practice. A number of these recommendations are already in place and all will form part of our revised Policy and Procedures to be published later this year.
“For all this, I am very grateful to our Designated Person, our Co-ordinator for Safeguarding Children, our Safeguarding Children Committee, our Safeguarding Trainers, our Advisory Committee, Support Person, Priest Advisors, our priests and the many committed lay parish representatives who are doing tremendous work in promoting a safe and nurturing environment at parish level. The Reports comments that “one of the most striking aspects of all these personnel was their maturity and commitment to working alongside Bishop Lee in order to safeguard children”.
“I wish to reaffirm the commitment of our diocese to the highest safeguarding standards. The work of safeguarding is an on-going task and we need to be vigilant and attentive. The people of the diocese - and particularly those who have suffered abuse deserve no less.
“Finally if there are any people who wish to make a complaint I again invite them to contact the diocese, or the civil authorities, so that everything possible can be done to help them. I invite them also to contact Towards Healing, a counselling service which assists those who are survivors of child abuse. The telephone number is Freephone 1800 30 34 16. The contacts for other support services are on our diocesan website: www.waterfordlismore.com