Ireland's Child Care Institutions during the 20th. Century. Fo'T: The most vivid and passionate stories - banished babies, cruel orphanages, old abuses of power - have concerned things that went unnoticed, or at least unarticulated, at the time. News has often had to be redefined, not as the latest sensation but as that which everybody knew all along yet could not say.

Wednesday, January 31, 1996

Report strong on reporting abuse but weak on removing priests

THE long awaited report (January 96) of the bishops' committee on how to deal with clerical child sex abuse contains this paragraph. "in all instances where it is known or suspected that a child has been, or is being, sexually abused by a priest or religious the matter should be reported to the civil authorities". Shouldn't this also be the rule where an adult complains of past abuse in childhood? Just asking!

The Gardai should be notified immediately

The Conference of Religious (CORI), which has been running a child protection office for the past year, announced that it had decided to set up a telephone help line for victims and their families as soon as possible. They say that the church sees the Government's Stay Safe programme against bullying and abuse as a necessary foundation for future school based programmes to enable young people to "become aware of their right to say `no' to certain behaviour on the part of adults".

Mgr Alex Stenson, one of the Irish church's leading canon lawyers said yesterday that a bishop could only impose administrative leave on a priest if at the same time he initiated a "canonical penal process" against him. He pointed to the right of a priest and any Catholic under canon law to a "good reputation" and to privacy.
However, Mgr Stenson said that, even with safeguards to protect an accused priest's rights, the proposed structures would ensure that he could be removed within 48 hours of an allegation being passed to the police from any position where he might abuse children.