Thursday 27 November 2014

Abuse watchdog heads to Australia

Published 24/04/2013 | 17:41

The Catholic Church in Australia is one of several institutions being investigated by a royal commission
The Catholic Church in Australia is one of several institutions being investigated by a royal commission

The head of the Catholic church watchdog into clerical abuse in Ireland is to head up a similar review panel in Australia, he has revealed.

Ian Elliott said he will leave his post in the summer after examining the records of 16 diocese and four religious orders.

The remaining 10 dioceses will be complete by the end of this year, he said, with the 100 plus orders and religious authorities examined by 2015.

"I have been invited to go work in Australia with the Catholic church," he said. "They are interested in a review process and are learning from the Irish experience."

The Catholic Church in Australia is one of several institutions being investigated by a royal commission into decades of allegations of child sex abuse, similar to statutory inquiries which uncovered decades of sickening abuse and cover-up in the Republic of Ireland.

After six years at the helm of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, Mr Elliott revealed his greatest fear is complacency and warned that reviewers will go back to each diocese and order in the country about every four years.

"It's been an incredibly challenging and interesting experience," said Mr Elliott. "It's been a real roller-coaster."

He described his latest set of seven reviews as the most positive to date, which ensured procedures and protocols are in place to protect children from predators now and in the future.

However, the former director of National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in Northern Ireland has ruled out the need for a statutory inquiry into clerical abuse there.

"I'm not a fan because they tend to be very costly, take a long period of time and often tell you what you already know," he added. "I think what came out of Clogher today was voluntarily offered by the diocese and put in the public domain. Why do you need a statutory inquiry for if it you can get it another way?."

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