Report hopes to be the final chapter on a very dark period for the Church in Ireland
A review conducted by Ireland’s National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCCI) has found evidence of “substantial wrongdoing” at various religious institutions when it came to protecting children.
It examined Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, the De la Salle Brothers, Norbertines, and the Sisters of Nazareth.
When it to the final three of these orders, the report expressed concerns relating to weak or, on occasion, poor practice. Teresa Devlin, CEO of NBSCCCI, cited several “common themes” of failure present across the three institutions.
These included poor or non-existent management records, a lack of a pastoral approach when it came to dealing with abuse and delays, or failures, when it came to reporting allegations. It also found that there were “missed opportunities” in safeguarding children, particularly in the case of Brendan Smyth. And with regards to the Norbertines, there was an absence of any commitment to understanding or adopting good child safeguarding practice.
Furthermore, there was little improvement found within these three orders. The report follows on from the Historical Abuse Inquiry (HIA), which spoke of “unspeakable cruelty and vicious abuse”.
The NBSCCCI said that its findings were in line with those of the HIA. “Our goal here was not to replicate the work of the HIA, though of course there is some overlap,” Ms Devlin said. Detailing the number of allegations, suspicions and concerns raised, the report showed that of the 512 cases, there were only five convictions.
In a statement, the Norbertines said: “[We] wish to again recognise the hurt caused to innocent children by members of our Canonry.
“We again unreservedly apologise most sincerely for the hurt and harm caused to these young people, while again also accepting that our management of the men concerned and the accusations presented to us were quite inadequate.”
The NBSCCCI added that it would work with all congregations to improve practice and supporting them in implementing recommendations made to them.