Archbishop demands additional protection for children
ARCHBISHOP of Dublin Diarmuid Martin yesterday reignited a row over the treatment of child sex predators by saying that the monitoring of abusers is "inadequate", even though many pose a risk to children.
In a clear attack on the Government, he claimed that resources were not being made available to state agencies charged with ensuring child safety and that legislation was needed to protect children.
The archbishop's comments come after Pope Benedict criticised previous leaders of the Catholic Church yesterday for being "insufficiently vigilant" during decades of systematic abuse of minors by some members of the clergy.
Dr Martin said that despite the full extent of clerical sex abuse being revealed in a succession of reports, legislation to protect children in Ireland remained "inadequate".
The HSE did not have enough resources and its mandate in relation to tackling abuse by people outside the home was "unclear", he said.
While not suggesting that abusers should be tagged, he called on the Government to conduct a review of child-protection services to see if the State's response was "focused and sufficient".
Speaking at a conference on mental health in Dublin yesterday, Dr Martin said he was "concerned" about delays in putting in place child-protection measures.
"The question of perpetrators needs examination," he said. "There is no adequate monitoring of perpetrators living in society. Many may pose a serious risk to children."
Last night, Children's Minister Barry Andrews agreed that improvements were needed, but said Dr Martin might not be fully aware of the work that had already been done.
"Children come first and that's the main point," he said. "We need to look at treatment of offenders while they are in jail, for example. This is an area that could be improved.
"We already have the sex offenders' list and the Department of Justice has introduced a pilot scheme on tagging offenders.
"There has also been ongoing discussion about exchanging shorter sentences for those who agree to engage in treatment, although I'm not sure how the public would react."
Mr Andrews invited the archbishop to a meeting to discuss the issue.