News

Day of Prayer for Victims & Survivors

The day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse, as agreed by the Bishop of Ireland, will take place on Friday 15th February 2019 in St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast at the 10:00am mass.

At this mass, Bishop Treanor will light the Diocesan Candle of Atonement, which has been blessed at Knock, and he will also dedicate the Atonement Prayer for use in all parishes. After mass there will be a Day of Prayer finishing with Vespers and Benediction at 7pm.

Safeguarding App from SBNI (Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland)

The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland App provides information on safeguarding children, for use by parents/carers and professionals.

It provides information on subjects such as child sexual exploitation, legal highs, bullying, gaming, other forms of abuse and the importance of healthy relationships.

Newsfeed and updates, signposting to key safeguarding gateways, supported by geo location features, reporting information, advice and help including video and audio content, with immediate access to ‘topic-specific’ advice where and when needed.

Download App on GooglePlay

Download from the Apple Store

Licence for the Use of Parish Premises by External Groups (Revised March 2018)

The Diocese of Down and Connor has recently issued a revised Licence for the Use of Parish Premises by External Groups. The revised Licence and an accompanying letter of explanation has been forwarded to each parish priest; copies should also have been forwarded to Parish Safeguarding Committee Chairs (this is available to view and download here).

It is not the role or the responsibility of the Parish Safeguarding Committee to oversee the completion of this Licence. The PSC will, however, continue to have a role in the parish governance process of external groups using parish property. This will focus solely on safeguarding and, in this regard, only Section B of the revised Licence.

Advisory Panel – Terms of Reference (Revised May 2017)

Down and Connor Safeguarding Office

Advisory Panel

Terms of reference

 

History and background

The Catholic Church in Ireland realised that there was a need to improve the handling of concerns and complaints of the abuse of children by clergy. Procedures and protocols were introduced and they have continued to develop through the guidance of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI).  These policies and procedures are a central structure in providing the best practice in the care and protection of children and young people involved in activities in the Church.

One of the developments included the creation of a panel of professional advisers, to the Bishop which gave him access to a wider understanding of allegations and concerns, thereby improving the way in which allegations and concerns were handled.

The Diocese of Down and Connor  has a long-established and well-staffed Advisory Panel comprising representatives from various professional disciplines and life experiences. The Advisory Panel is tasked with considering allegations and concerns and giving advice to the Bishop about them.

Aim of the Advisory Panel

The aim of the Advisory Panel is:

  • to enhance the safety and welfare of children and young people in church-related activities in the Diocese of Down and Connor;
  • to work with the Safeguarding Office and the Bishop and provide a linking mechanism between that Office and the Bishop.

The Advisory Panel is independent from the Safeguarding Office and the Bishop. The members of the Panel consider any allegations or concerns received by the diocese and, if necessary, seeks any necessary clarification about the concerns and complaints.

The Advisory Panel will take account of the facts presented and will apply their own professional training and life experiences, as well as any knowledge of the matters reported, in reaching a view of the immediate risks. The will give priority to any initial steps and recommendations to the Bishop that will ensure the protection of children and young people.

The Panel is also tasked with providing advice on the management of the accused during and post any investigation.

All reports presented to the Advisory Panel will be discussed and debated openly and with each member of the Advisory Panel able to speak freely.  All opinions and views should have equal status and will be debated within the Advisory Panel.

The key function of the Panel is to make recommendations to the Bishop.  These are recommendations and are not requirements.  The Advisory Panel does not have any power to impose restrictions or conditions on any person.

The Advisory Panel works within the framework of the NBSCCCI’s new Standards and Policy issued in March 2016. NBSCCCI’s Standards and Policy – March 2016

The proper civil authorities are advised of all relevant allegations, concerns, complaints and risks, and it is those authorities alone who determine the conduct of any statutory investigation.

Membership of the Advisory Panel

Panel members are all volunteers. They can be asked to be members at the direction of the Bishop.

Existing members or other parties may recommend potential members but the decision to appoint will remain with the Bishop.

Membership shall reflect as wide a range of professional views and experiences as possible. The Advisory Panel should seek to include representatives from a background in medicine, social services and/or law enforcement as well as legal experiences, including canon law, and a clergy representative.  This will ensure that all issues are debated openly while taking account of as many relevant factors as possible.

The Advisory Panel should appoint a Chair to manage all meetings. The Secretary to the Panel is the Director for Safeguarding.  In the absence of the Chair, the Secretary should seek to appoint a temporary replacement to manage a meeting but there is no requirement to have a formal Vice Chair.

Representatives from the Safeguarding Office and a legal adviser may attend the Advisory Panel meetings but they are not members of the Advisory Panel. They are not involved in any decision regarding recommendations to be made to the Bishop but they may be consulted.

Frequency of meetings

The Advisory Panel should meet at least every 3–4 months to review on going issues.

Meetings can occur more frequently and may be called at short notice should events so require.

Training is provided to the Advisory Panel members as and when required. Members can avail of all training provided by the NBSCCCI and via the training programme provided by the Diocesan Safeguarding Office.

Reporting arrangements

It will be the role of the Chair, with the Safeguarding Office representative, to meet with the Bishop and to report any recommendation(s) to him. This meeting should take place as soon as practicable after any meeting of the Advisory Panel to ensure the best protection for children and young people.

Safeguarding Office Newsletter – (May 2017)

This special edition covers the following features:

  • Update on the implementation of the NBSCCCI  7 standards (Policy and Standards for the Catholic Church in Ireland 2016).
  • Developments in Training
  • Training Strategy
  • 3-Year Strategic Safeguarding Plan
  • Rebranding of Safeguarding Materials
  • New Parish Self-Audit Tool
  • Update on the work of the Interfaith Group of SBNI
  • Awareness Raising on the Topic of Domestic and Sexual Violence