Ian Elliott warns of dangers to the NBSCCC
This year kicked off with an article in the Maynooth journal, The Furrow, by Ian Elliott, CEO emeritus of the NBSCCC (he had relinquished that role in July 2013). In A Single Safeguarding Strategy Elliott warned of his fear that Irish bishops might be seeking to reduce the powers of the NBSCCC – on the grounds of an alleged reduction in its funding progressively over the previous four years. He also said that, as things stood, the board did not have the power to review child safeguarding provision without invitation from the diocese or religious order concerned. All of this rang alarm bells with members of VOTFI.
Already Elliott’s departure from the NBSCCC had raised questions for us – to do with the continuing strength of clericalism in the Irish church, buttressed by the absence of any structures of accountability that would allow alert and independent lay people to ask searching questions.
These concerns deepened in March with the news that Elliott was in legal dispute with the diocese of Down and Connor over its claim of his support for a favourable report on child safeguarding provision there, released by the NBSCCC in December 2013. These news reports in March revealed that Elliott had conducted the early field work for this NBSCCC review in May 2013, and that he disagreed with the blanket approval given by that December NBSCCC report. This too points up the misgivings that are bound to arise in the absence of any interfacing structure in the Irish Church where questions could be asked of the NBSCCC executive and the Irish bishops, and answers provided.
‘Towards Peace’ – A spiritual support service for survivors?
We caught wind of this also earlier in the year, on foot of an announcement by the Irish Bishops following their December 2013 meeting at Maynooth. As it seemed to relate to earlier apparently fruitless VOTFI discussions with church leaders on this theme in 2008 and 2010, we immediately made contact with all of the survivors we know – to see if any had participated in the development of this service. None had, and all were surprised by news of it – and sceptical. So we put up a post (‘Survivor Support Without Survivors?‘) outlining our experience of the interest shown by Irish bishops in the spiritual support of survivors. We remain sceptical, even after hearing of the arrival of ‘Towards Peace‘ in May 2014. It will take feedback from known survivors to establish the usefulness of this service.
See ‘Ongoing’ on the main menu for an analysis of all the issues that continue to catch our attention.