Investigation to open into Armagh diocese handling of child sexual abuse complaints

An audit is to be launched into Armagh diocese's handling of child protection
An audit is to be launched into Armagh diocese's handling of child protection

A CHURCH watchdog is due to launch an investigation into the full extent of all complaints and allegations of child sexual abuse made to the Armagh diocese since 1975, according to a spokesperson for Cardinal Sean Brady.

The audit of the diocese will be led by Ian Elliott chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church. The board was founded in 2006 and has already compiled audits on six of Ireland’s 26 dioceses.

The board will be tasked with uncovering the full extent of all complaints or allegations, knowledge, suspicions or concerns of child sexual abuse, made to the Armagh diocese by individuals or by the civil authorities in the period 1 January 1975 to the present day, against Catholic clergy.

Its objective will be ‘to confirm how known allegations have been responded to and what the current arrangements for safeguarding children are’ in the Armagh diocese.

The board has just completed its audit into the diocese of Raphoe, Co Donegal. It is expected to be a shocking report revealing how up to 20 peadophile priests abused hundreds of children over a forty-year period.

Clergy in the Raphoe diocese are severely criticised for the way victims and their families were treated.

The report is due out later this month.

It will come in the wake of a series of damning reports which have rocked the church with revelations about the scale of sex abuse in the diocese of Cloyne, in the archdiocese of Dublin and by religious orders.

The report, for the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, is expected to be published by the Bishop of Raphoe, Dr Philip Boyce, in the next two weeks.

Following the setting up of child protection committees throughout the Armagh diocese, each parish now has two or more child protection representatives who train all church personnel who have contact with children.

The spokesperson for Cardinal Brady would not be drawn on when the investigation is due to start, but according to Ian Elliott, all of the investigations are due to be completed by mid-2012.