Opening address by Archbishop Eamon Martin at First National Safeguarding Conference Athlone

Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference

Our discussions this weekend should be rooted in a promise that we are now doing everything possible to ensure that the terrible things which happened them in the past shall not happen again – Archbishop Eamon

The first National Safeguarding Conference hosted by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland marks a significant milestone on our journey. I use the words ‘milestone’ and ‘journey’ very deliberately.

I remember as a little boy noticing ‘milestones’ along the road and being told they were markers to reassure travellers that they were on the correct path, or, useful reference points for road services and planners when they were examining the state of the highway and making decisions about future needs.

Similarly, our Conference this weekend provides an opportunity for us to look back on where we have come from and assess our progress, to survey the ups and downs along the way, and to look out for potholes that might be emerging. Our National Conference is a vantage point from which to show gratitude to those who have worked tirelessly since the mid-1990’s to bring us to where we are today, and to invite new people to bring their gifts and ideas to help us on the journey ahead.

Over this weekend we will hear from national and international experts working in Safeguarding and related fields. It will also be an opportunity to listen and learn from each other, because everyone here has insights which are worth sharing, experiences to process and evaluate. An essential ingredient of this Conference is to harness the ‘knowledge capital’ that is in this room so that we can all return home having added value to each other’s wisdom and understanding of safeguarding issues.

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