Sunday 20 October 2019

'Progress made' in getting detail

Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

PROGRESS is being made in efforts by Children's Minister Barry Andrews to secure details on child abuse allegations from Catholic bishops, the junior minister's spokesman claimed yesterday.

Last week Mr Andrews said he was giving the bishops three weeks to disclose details they refused to give to the Health Service Executive (HSE) during an audit of child protection practices in each diocese.

He was speaking at the publication of the audit, which has been criticised for failing to provide proper evidence that child protection guidelines are being implemented on the ground.

The bishops had refused to complete Section 5 of the questionnaire they were sent by the HSE, which required information on the number of priests convicted or under investigation for abuse. It required no names.

A spokesman for the minister said yesterday "progress" was being made in the pursuit of the information and a number of meetings were to take place between health officials and representatives of the various dioceses.

However, it is still unclear how much information will be given by the bishops or if they will continue to cite the legal advice which they said prevented them from giving details to the audit.

The bishops said they could not give those details because even though names were not involved, it could help identify priests against whom unfounded allegations were made.

Children's Ombudsman Emily Logan is conducting a separate investigation of the department and the HSE to determine if they made full efforts to secure the information from the bishops during the course of the audit.

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