Diocesan Safeguarding Day

Diocesan Safeguarding Day – Sunday, 24th September is Diocesan Safeguarding
Day. I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for all of the work you have been
doing to make the Church in Dublin a safer place for children. As we prepare for the
World Meeting of Families in Dublin next August, we should recall the words of
Pope Francis: “Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to
protect their children. They should also know that they have every right to turn to
the Church with full confidence, for it is a safe and secure home”. Considerable
efforts have been made in the Archdiocese of Dublin to ensure the Church is a safe
and secure home for children. Last year alone, nearly 1,200 people attended one day
safeguarding training sessions and a further 1,500 attended information sessions. We
now have almost 400 parish safeguarding representatives who are working alongside
clerical and lay colleagues to ensure that best safeguarding practice is followed in
each of our 199 parishes. I commend this work and I am grateful to those of you
who have accepted this responsibility. There have been significant developments
over the past 12 months or so. In 2016, the state vetting legislation came into
operation. Up to that point, vetting was a matter of good practice. Now it has
become a legal requirement for those working with children and vulnerable persons.
The system for applying for vetting changed and placed an extra burden on parishes
and, most particularly, on those parish workers and volunteers who are not familiar
or comfortable with computers and with communicating by email. I want to thank
you for bearing with the anxiety and trouble this has caused you. The second major
development is linked to the first. It concerns vulnerable adults. As we know people
who are vulnerable are open to abuse and exploitation just as children are. Irish
society has come to recognise the need for laws, such as the vetting legislation, and
services to protect vulnerable persons. The Health Service Executive now has
dedicated teams of social workers working with vulnerable adults. I have asked the
diocesan Advisory Panel on Child Protection, the diocesan Safeguarding Committee
and the Child Safeguarding and Protection Service to extend their remit to include
vulnerable adults. An interim policy on safeguarding vulnerable adults has been
developed and issues related to the safeguarding of vulnerable adults are being
integrated into the safeguarding training delivered by the Child Safeguarding and
Protection Service. There will be further developments in this area over the coming
years. We have seen a welcome decline in the number of child abuse allegations
coming to the attention of the diocesan Child Safeguarding and Protection Service.
However, a decline does not mean that such allegations have ceased, only that there
are fewer of them. There are no grounds for complacency. It is important that we
remain committed to this vital work. I ask you also to pray for and remember those
who were abused as children and who continue to suffer as a consequence.

With prayerful good wishes, Diarmuid Martin – Archbishop of Dublin