21st February 2018
On behalf of the Spiritan Congregation, I welcome the publication this week of the Tusla Audit of Child Protection Policy, Procedures and Practices of Religious Orders/Congregations/Missionary Societies in Ireland. ( See www.tusla.ie/publications/audit-of-religious-orders-congregations-and-missionary-societies-safeguardi ) The statistical part of the Report covers the period 1996 – 2013.
Our congregation values the independent appraisal of its work in this important and sensitive area.
The Tusla Report acknowledges that “current and past (Spiritan) safeguarding personnel have, from the outset, demonstrated their commitment to the audit process” (p.12).
Like my predecessor, I acknowledge and deeply regret that in the past, allegations of abuse were not dealt with as promptly or as effectively as they should have been.
The Report confirms that all allegations of sexual abuse received by the Congregation against Spiritans were reported to the statutory authorities. Some of the delays in reporting in recent years are due to the Congregation working sensitively and compassionately with complainants to gain their confidence and trust so that they feel comfortable in providing sufficient information in order to make the reporting of the case meaningful for Tusla.
As well as pointing out the inadequacies of our safeguarding practices in the past, the Tusla Report commends the Congregation for the positive changes that have been implemented and acknowledges the “Excellent” rating for its “Overall Child Protection Policy”, having found it to have 48 out of 48 elements of safeguarding “Fully in Place” (p.7).
The Tusla Report concludes: “Existing safeguarding structures (in the Congregation) continue to be actively implemented and monitored which is in line with best safeguarding practice” (p.13). The Congregation is seeking clarification from Tusla regarding its comment on Page 53 of the Report which is at variance with the thrust of the Report on the Congregation on pages 198 – 211.
While it is gratifying that the Congregation’s current commitment to the safeguarding of children is recognised, we are determined not to become complacent but to continue to strive to maintain best practice in this important area.
Anybody who has been affected by the publication of this report is encouraged to contact the Spiritan Safeguarding Office; contact details are on the Spiritan website www.spiritan.ie
Marc Whelan C.S.Sp.