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Child-protection watchdog praises archbishop

Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent newsdesk@irishnews.com

CATHOLIC Church watchdog has praised archbishop Diarmuid Martin for helping to turn around a "shocking and grievous" failure to protect children from paedophile priests in Dublin. The National Board for safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBsCCC) yesterday published an audit of child safeguarding measures in several dioceses and religious orders. The 2009 Murphy Report accused Church leaders in Dublin of having an "obsessive concern with secrecy and the avoidance of scandal" that led to the failure of successive bishops to report complaints to the gardai.

However, the NBsCCC said Dr Martin was to be "strongly commended for the leadership and commitment that he has given to the whole child safeguarding project".

Its report said he had appointed "people of skill and integrity in all the key roles" and described the turnaround as "remarkable". The archdiocese revealed that it had so far paid out E 14 million to victims of clerical sex abuse and E 6.4m in legal fees.

since last year, three more priests have been the subject of allegations, bringing to 101 the number accused since 1940. The NBsCCC meanwhile recommended that Catholic leaders in the Diocese of Cloyne, which was the subject of a damning 2010 report by Judge Yvonne Murphy, ensure an appropriate response to victims is established, including recruiting and training at least two lay people, a woman and a man, to act in a victim support role. A total of 30 priests in the Cork diocese have been the subject of 46 allegations since 1975, with Newry-born bishop John Magee resigning in 2010 following criticism of child protection practices.

NBsCCC chief executive teresa Devlin commended dioceses for improving protection but warned about slower progress in religious orders.

"There has been a sea change in that all are now conscious of their obligations around reporting, [but] unfortunately in two cases we saw that priests continued in ministry even though admissions were made and in another order cases against deceased brothers, former brothers and lay teachers were not always notified to the gardai," she said.

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