Diocese of Ferns

Bishop Denis Brennan speaking on the Feast of the Epiphany at the Church of the Assumption, Bride St,Wexford

On this feast of the Epiphany which celebrates the finding and treasuring of the Child Jesus, and in light of recent allegations of non-compliance by Church authorities regarding the reporting of Child Abuse complaints, I would like to make the following points:

The Diocese of Ferns accepted the findings and recommendations of the Ferns Inquiry when they were issued on 25th October 2005.

The issue of safeguarding children has remained a priority concern for the diocese.

Awareness, training and the improvement of existing structures has continued since October 2005, as has the commissioning of parish representatives and ongoing outreach and engagement with victims and their families, where permitted, requested or appropriate.

All allegations of child sexual abuse involving priests – and former priests – of the diocese of Ferns, have been handled in line with written guidelines as have issued from both state and church.

Parishes are guided in their activities by the diocesan policy and code of conduct as were issued as interim in June 2003 and reissued in progressed format in December 2004. Both policy and code are open to review in light of emerging best practice. Gratitude is expressed to the diocesan child protection committee for its work in this area.

The diocese itself is guided in all of its dealings regarding allegations of child sexual abuse by the following directives and gatherings:

1. The Holy See directive of 2001 – Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela

2. The Diocesan Advisory Panel which is composed of personnel – both qualified and experienced – in the disciplines of psychotherapy, child protection, management and law, both canon and civil.

3. Inter Agency meetings – an initiative (and practice) of the diocese of Ferns since 2002 and a subsequent recommendation of the Ferns Inquiry Report in October 2005 – where the Bishop and diocesan child protection personnel meet with senior representatives of both the Gardai and the HSE to share information and concerns. I would now ask that the government introduce the necessary legislation to facilitate inter agency exchange of information necessary to assess and manage risk in co-operation with organisations which work with children and young people.

4. The National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) whose expertise has been requested – and received – on specific occasions.

All recommendations received from the Holy See, the diocesan advisory panel, the Inter Agency meetings and National Office have been both accepted and implemented by the diocese.

Furthermore the diocese is in receipt of no allegation of child sexual abuse involving any priest – or former priest – which it has not shared with the Gardai and the Health Board.

At the most recent Inter Agency meeting – all three bodies – Diocese / HSE / Gardaí – stated that this position is true for all three agencies with regard to one another, vis a vis priests – or former priests – of the diocese of Ferns.

At present the completion of training for – and commissioning of – parish representatives is continuing and I would like to thank the many people – lay and clerical – who are shaping a future in Ferns, where children are both safeguarded and encouraged to full Christian growth.

Persons who have concerns are asked to make contact with their local parish representative or to make contact with the diocesan delegate Ms. Marian Stack, Office: 053 – 9122177, Mobile: 085 – 1055992.

The Support Person is Sr. Helen O’ Riordan, Office: 053-9174972, Mobile: 086-3528613.