Audit gives more than half of church bodies 'satisfactory' child protection rating
February 20, 2018

[See also: Publication of Audit of Religious Orders, Congregations and Missionary Societies Volume II, produced by Tusla, the Republic of Ireland's agency charged with improving the lives of children.]

Almost 1,900 allegations of child sex abuse were made against religious orders between 1996 and 2015.

Tusla has published a new report which shows that 10% of individuals involved were convicted for child sexual abuse offences.

This audit was undertaken as a recommendation of the Ferns report in 2005 and is the second report which covers the period from 1996 up to 2015 and involved all 135 religious orders.

It found that 1,882 allegations were made against 549 current, former and deceased members.

Half of these allegations were made against eight of the nine Congregations of Religious Brothers - while the smallest number - just 1% relate to Congregations of Religious Sisters.

However, the report does not cover the outcome of any of these allegations.

The audit of how Religious Orders responded to allegations of child sexual abuse between 1996 and 2015 has given an unsatisfactory rating to 16 churches.

Tusla have published the ‘Audit of Religious Orders, Congregations and Missionary Societies Safeguarding Arrangements and Management of Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse - Volume II’, which also assesses each Religious Order’s child safeguarding documents to ensure they are being implemented appropriately.

The majority of audited church bodies were given an overall child protection rating (unsatisfactory, satisfactory, or excellent).

  • Of the 135 church bodies covered by this audit:
  • 29 were rated as excellent;
  • 43 were rated as satisfactory;
  • 16 were rated as unsatisfactory.

Brian Lee, Director of Quality Assurance at Tusla, said: “This audit was undertaken as a recommendation of the Ferns report in 2005. It is the second volume of work which covers the period from 1996 up to 2015.

"From this audit it is clear that these church bodies have made substantial improvements over time to adhere to child protection and safeguarding guidelines.

"2017 brought new Children First legislation and the introduction of mandatory reporting. This change will mean that the church bodies included in this audit, and all people and organisations working with children need to be familiar with the changes to ensure that children are as safe as possible."

  • A number of key learnings were identified following the audit process:
  • Attitude and culture – overall the audit shows a clear shift in attitudes and culture towards child safeguarding in recent times;
  • Engagement – all 135 church bodies demonstrated their commitment to the audit process;
  • Ongoing management of allegations and risk – it can be concluded that safeguarding mechanisms varied from being excellent, satisfactory and extremely poor;
  • Training and education – the audit showed varying levels of of child protection training procedures;
  • Safeguarding practice – not all safeguarding activity was reflected in policy documents. In some cases a number of essential procedures were not included in safeguarding documents;
  • Governance oversight – the audit shows that church bodies (in the audit) clearly understand the need for implementing governance processes and for oversight of these processes.


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