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.