Today, Thursday 23rd October 2014, we publish a Review of Safeguarding Practice in the Redemptorist Congregation in Ireland (it is available at www.redemptorists.ie). It was undertaken in the past few months, at our invitation, by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI). We wish to acknowledge the Board’s important work and thank its members for conducting this review of our practice. We were happy to co-operate fully with the review; we welcome processes of outside review because they assist us in ensuring that safeguarding standards of a high level are in place now and will be into the future.
The Review established that since 1975, we have received allegations (dating from between 1957 and 1995) in regard to thirteen of our members (6 of whom are now deceased and 3 of whom have left the Congregation)*. As Redemptorists we acknowledge that in the past some of our members did abuse young people who trusted them; for us this is a shameful reality, but we accept it and will deal with it as compassionately, fairly, professionally and transparently as possible. We apologise unreservedly to anybody who has been hurt in any way by a Redemptorist. We wish to acknowledge the lasting impact caused by any abuse and the courage shown by those who have come forward to report what happened to them. We hope that those who have been hurt may, at some stage, be in a position to forgive any hurt caused. We can only try to understand how difficult it is for people to report sexual abuse and we promise to support anybody who decides to do so. In the past, when people have reported abuse it has helped us and other agencies to create safer environments for children and young people.
The National Board’s review of Redemptorist practice makes three recommendations, which will enhance our procedures; these recommendations are already in the process of being implemented (the recommendations are available below in Appendix 1). The review acknowledges the work we have done in putting procedures and systems in place and concludes:
“The Redemptorist Congregation has impressed the reviewers in its commitment to developing best practice in child safeguarding. It has structures and processes in place that are appropriate and effective, and all areas of safeguarding responsibility are allocated to named and accountable members and staff. Risk management is well conducted within the Congregation; and the policy and procedures that have been developed are of a high standard. It has cooperated fully with the Review and has demonstrated an attitude of openness in its dealings with the NBSCCCI.”
Youth Ministry is a very important part of our work in Ireland and beyond and we are absolutely determined to ensure that young people who participate in our various programmes and activities will not only be in a safe environment, but will benefit from their contacts with Redemptorists and Redemptorist ministry. We are and will continue to be fully compliant with all procedures in regard to child safeguarding. We firmly commit to doing all in our power to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children who interact with us in various ways into the future.
We wish to take this further opportunity to invite any person who was abused by, or has a concern in regard to, any of our members, past or present, to bring this matter to our attention and to the attention of the PSNI/Gardai/Gateway Team/HSE/TUSLA. Our Safeguarding Designated Person, Mr Phil Mortell, can be contacted on 087-2252415.
We also invite persons who were abused to consider contacting Towards Healing, the confidential and independent support service established by the Catholic Church. Towards Healing (www.towardshealing.ie) can be contacted on:
Freephone 1800 303416 (Rep. of Ireland) Freephone 0800 0963315 (Northern Ireland and UK)
For contact: Media queries to Fr Michael Kelleher, Redemptorist Provincial at: firstname.lastname@example.org and to Young Communications on 087-2471520
NOTE: *For review purposes, ‘the term allegation includes complaints and expressions of concern’ (no member of the Redemptorist Congregation in Ireland has ever been charged or convicted of child abuse).
The three recommendations:
That the Redemptorist Congregation, through its Safeguarding Committee develop comprehensive safeguarding guidance on the use of all types of information technology and electronic media.
That the Redemptorist Congregation, through its Safeguarding Committee develop a congregation-wide Training Strategy based on a thorough review of all of its training activities.
That the Redemptorist Congregation through its Safeguarding Committee develop a standardised monitoring system that will allow it to generate an annual Child Safeguarding Monitoring Report for the Provincial and Council.