Welcome to the Diocese of Down and Connor Safeguarding website.

The practice of safeguarding within the diocese refers to the wide range of services, plans and activities that are put in place to protect both children and adults who may be vulnerable to abuse and neglect from being exploited or harmed.

Safeguarding within our Church community is about making our Church a safe, welcoming and enriching place for children, young people and adults and those who may be at risk of harm. Although the Safeguarding Office may take a lead role in outlining the key aspects of what needs to be in place to protect children and adults from harm, safeguarding is very much a shared community responsibility in which each and every one of us has a part to play, whether that is reporting a concern about a child or adult or by simply volunteering in your parish in any of our safeguarding activities.

The role of the diocesan safeguarding team is to provide professional advice, guidance, support and training to all our staff, clergy and volunteers who work within the diocese. This is to ensure that they can meet their safeguarding responsibilities both legally and morally as well as providing support to those who may have suffered abuse or exploitation in a church .

Creating and maintaining a safe environment for all in Down and Connor, is largely managed by our Parish Safeguarding Committees (PSCs) of which there are 88 in total, replicating our existing 88 parishes. The role of our PSC’s is to ensure that all volunteers within a parish setting, working with children and adults, are safely recruited, vetted and trained.

Whilst the vast majority of our safe practice takes places within our pastoral communities, the work of safeguarding and our compliance with governance arrangements overseen by the Diocesan Safeguarding Committee, chaired by Fr Michael McGinnity, pp of St Malachy’s parish and the coordinator for family ministry throughout the diocese. The key role played by the committee, along with committee membership can be found by following this link Role of Diocesan Safeguarding Committee.

When it comes to safeguarding, the diocese is largely directed in its practice by statutory and legal requirements. However, it must also demonstrate its safeguarding compliance with Catholic Church guidelines and standards, set by the NBSCCCI (National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland. (These can be viewed on the website www.safeguarding.ie).

In day-to-day practice, the Safeguarding Office liaises closely with colleagues within the statutory and voluntary sector through its membership of a number of fora. The aim of these voluntary and statutory arrangements is to share best safeguarding practices, knowledge and skills.

As the Director of Safeguarding and on behalf of the diocese, I am pleased to be nominated to chair the Interfaith Group for the Safeguarding Board for NI, which brings together in a statutory forum all those from faith backgrounds to reflect upon our shared task in promoting safeguarding practice.

I hope you find our website useful and informative. Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us via email.


Barbara McDermott, Director of Safeguarding