(The policy booklet may be viewed in the Safeguarding link on the homepage)
The updated diocese of Waterford and Lismore Policy on Safeguarding Children 2010 was launched on Tuesday night (September 21st) at a ceremony in St. John‘s Pastoral Centre. Bishop Lee invited Ms. Teresa Devlin, Director of Safeguarding at the National Office for Safeguarding Children in Ireland to conduct the launch. Safeguarding Children Parish Representatives and priests from parishes throughout the diocese were in attendance.
The booklet contains the updated policies, procedures and codes of behaviour for safeguarding children to be followed in the diocese of Waterford and Lismore. It brings policies and procedures in line with the Standards and Guidance document for the Catholic Church in Ireland which was published by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in 2008.
In his address to the Parish Representatives, Bishop Lee stated that the publication of the new policy “is a tangible expression of our commitment to safeguard children.” The policy seeks to promote an ethos and an approach which give paramount consideration to the child and young person. Bishop Lee assured young people and their parents and guardians “that the church in Waterford and Lismore is a safe environment for children. They will find it a welcoming, positive and encouraging place to worship, meet and work with others.” Acknowledging the shameful truth of past failures, the bishop pledged to “ensure, in so far as is humanly possible, that such abuse will never occur in the future.”
Bishop Lee reminded the audience that a lot has been achieved over the last thirteen years in the diocese in regard to the safeguarding of children. He thanked all who are actively engaged in the promotion of a safe and healthy environment for children in our Church.
In concluding, Bishop Lee pointed out that the launch of the new policy is not an end point of a process but one important stage in what is and what will be an on-going feature of Church life – ensuring that our children are safe.
In formally launching the booklet, Teresa Devlin paid great tribute to the design and layout which make it very user-friendly. She was confident that the new policy document will help to ensure that correct procedures will be followed at all times in relation to child protection. She also implored all those who strive to create a safe environment in our Church to ensure that children have a voice in their own care. She said that we will be a richer Church for listening to children.
What has been happening to date in the diocese of Waterford and Lismore?
- A Diocesan Safeguarding Children Committee is in place which has helped to plan, develop and deliver Safeguarding Policies and Procedures in the diocese;
- A safeguarding Coordinator for the diocese was appointed (Ms. Avril Halley) who with two trained volunteers (Ms. Breda Delahaunty and Ms. Maria Ahearne) has delivered many hours of training to priests and Child Safeguarding Representatives in parishes;
- Parish Safeguarding Representatives are now working in every parish in the diocese to ensure that policies and procedures are explained and implemented;
- There are two designated persons, Fr. Paul Murphy and Monsignor Nicholas O’Mahony, who are there to receive complaints;
- An advisory panel is in place to advice the bishop on responding to complaints;
- Support persons are available to help those who make a complaint or are the subject of one.
Avril Halley, Diocesan Coordinator, addresses the gathering at the launch.