The Catholic Diocese of Clogher has launched a comprehensive policy on adult safeguarding, building on its significant work in the area of safeguarding children over the past decade and a half. The new policy was launched at the pre-Easter deanery conferences held recently in both Monaghan and Enniskillen. The policy states the unequivocal commitment of the diocese to ‘safeguarding as an integral component of the life and ministry of the church and recognises that we have a special responsibility towards adults at risk of harm or in need of protection who are members of our faith community.’ It goes on to reassure carers and advocates that it operates a policy of ‘zero-tolerance of harm to adults at risk of harm or in need of protection’ and that the commitment to the creation of a safe, caring and compassionate environment is based on gospel values and compliance with best practice.
Fundamentally, the new policy states that: ‘The Diocese of Clogher recognises that everyone has a fundamental right to be safe, and that there are many people with whom church personnel have contact who require special care and attention. We believe that all church personnel, including priests, religious, staff and volunteers must carry out their ministry respecting the rights of the individual in line with gospel values and civil or criminal law, including Human Rights legislation. The diocese values and encourages participation of adults in all parish liturgies and activities that enhance their spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual and social development.’
The guidelines replace those issued in 2014 and reflect the policy changes in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. They aim to put in place safeguarding arrangements for adults who are at risk from harm and to ensure that all church personnel in the diocese understand and commit to the policy. The scope of the policy also reflects shifts in understanding of the term ‘vulnerable’ to one of ‘adult in need of protection’. The policy sets out the legal framework in this area, north and south. It contains definitions of abuse as well as procedures for handling disclosure and reporting.
As required in Northern Ireland, the diocese has appointed an Adult Safeguarding Champion. This is a person in the diocese who provides ‘strategic and operational leadership and oversight in the relation to adult safeguarding’ and who is responsible for implementing the adult safeguarding statement. The Adult Safeguarding Champion for the Diocese of Clogher is Seamus Gunn, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. His role is to provide information and support for diocesan personnel on adult safeguarding, to ensure that the safeguarding policy is disseminated and implemented throughout the diocese, to advise and support staff regarding adult safeguarding training needs and to liaise with various agencies as appropriate. The Adult Safeguarding Champion will work closely with the two existing Designated Liaison Persons (DLPs) who are responsible for managing all concerns, allegations and complaints regarding actual or potential harm or abuse which come to the attention of the diocese. These are Brendan Kelly, Latton and Anne Molloy, Irvinestown.
The policy and procedures also emphasise the importance of values and principles in this area. These include access to information and knowledge, choice, confidentiality, consent, dignity and respect, equality and cultural diversity, independence, privacy and safety.
Launching the new policy, the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Clogher and Safeguarding Director, Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, noted that the fundamental responsibility to safeguard children also applies equally to the safeguarding of adults. ‘A significant part of our ministry involves the pastoral care and support of adults who, on account of reasons such as illness, disability, infirmity or other personal circumstances, need special consideration, understanding and protection.’ He went on to highlight that the diocese will continue to build on the training already provided so as to enhance awareness in this vital area and emphasised that the diocese was committed to working in a collaborative and supportive way with statutory bodies, health and social care agencies and community and voluntary organisations. He thanked all who had worked to produced the new policy as well as all those priests, staff and volunteers who work at all levels in the diocese to serve people and be vigilant in the area of safeguarding.
The new policy and procedures take immediate effect and are available in all parishes and via the diocesan website and other social media outlets.
The contact for the relevant personnel is as follows:
Adult Safeguarding Champion: Seamus Gunn, 43 Old Rossorry Road, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh BT74, 7LF; Tel. 00447756812849.
Designated Liaison Persons:
Brendan Kelly, Tamlet, Latton, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan; Tel. 00353 42 9741383.
Anne Molloy, Dunene Ave., Kesh Road, Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh. Tel. (work) 028 68621133
Further Information: www.safeguarding.ie or www.clogherdiocese.ie