Posted on 11. Sep, 2012
Clarification Statement from Bishop Noel Treanor
11 September 2012
I wish to clarify a number of misrepresentations in recent coverage regarding myself and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Safeguarding Board for Children in the Catholic Church:
Most importantly at no time did I act to hinder or interfere with the work of the National Board or indeed to be obstructive in any way of its work. I remain focussed on having an open and transparent Church to ensure the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults.
My concern which led to this confidential inquiry was about a very specific procedural issue and how an issue was known to the media.
The Diocese of Down and Connor, in accordance with National Board’s Standards and Guidance, has conducted an independent review of all Diocesan living and dead cases by external reviewers, as it awaits the review by the National Board – it is not replacing the Board’s review.
For your information I have reproduced below the statement that was issued following a number of questions from a journalist.
My overriding concern as Bishop of Down and Connor is and will continue to be the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults in both the diocese and throughout Ireland.
However we all have a duty as professionals in this field of work to continually scrutinise and challenge our current processes in the pursuit of better and safer practice. This will ensure not only the protection of children but the rights of those victims who come forward to tell their stories.
The challenge which arose between the diocese and the national office was an internal procedural matter, which required attention due to jurisdictional differences. It did not in any way affect or interfere with safeguarding practice. Matters which were brought to my attention by third parties and were then informally raised with the National Board. The National Board decided to instigate a formal complaints procedure.
The issues I raised are rooted in my genuine concern for the well-being of victims affected by abuse and their right to privacy. Openness and transparency of approach is vital in dealing with abuse, but not at the cost of the desired privacy of victims. The Safeguarding process can only be harmed if those victims cannot be confident that they can approach those appointed to protect and facilitate them in confidence.
I have accepted the findings of the Report and continue to work effectively with the NBSCCI towards our common objective of safeguarding children.
I support the work that Ian Elliott, his staff and the Board and I look forward to continuing our collaborative working relationship. I wrote to Ian Elliott withdrawing, and apologising for, an earlier assertion regarding the leaking of information to the media. We have moved on from this and we met at the beginning of the summer to discuss how we continue to work towards our common goal of the safeguarding of children.
I have asked the National Board to come and review the work of this diocese, and indeed I have proposed that funding be increased to expedite the Review process. When I first came to the Diocese I decided to commission an independent internal review of all cases, living and deceased, in order to benchmark all the work undertaken. Marian Reynolds MBE and Dr John Devaney were appointed to conduct this review. I have shared their findings with the Board, the relevant statutory bodies and an executive summary is on the diocesan website.
At all times I, together with the staff of the Diocesan Safeguarding Office, have remained focused on the task of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. The Diocesan Safeguarding Office has just published its first Annual Report which details the intensive work that is being undertaken in this regard throughout the diocese and its parishes and it sets out the priorities for the next year.
I repeat my commitment to working with all those involved in the safe guarding of children and vulnerable adults.