Initiatives/Publications/Press Releases

Chronological order of publications and initiatives taken by the Irish Bishops’ Conference in relation to child protection:

1994 - Irish Catholic Bishops’ Advisory Committee on Child Sexual Abuse by Priests and Religious convened under the Chairmanship of Most Rev. Laurence Forristal, Bishop of Ossory. Its purpose was to identify guidelines for Church policy in instances or suspicions of child sexual abuse by a priest or religious. The membership of the Committee included representatives from the professions of Psychiatry, Paediatrics, Law, Canon Law, Clergy, Religious and Communications.

1996 - Publication of Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response (commonly referred to as: ‘The Green Book’) ( ).

This report recognises the paramount need to safeguard the welfare of children. It emphasizes the need for a strong commitment to prevention through a range of measures to reduce the risk of such abuse in the future.

1997 - National Resource Group established, under Chairmanship of Bishop Forristal. Its key terms of reference were: * To serve as a resource for the Catholic Church in Ireland in responding to the issue of Child Sexual Abuse by priests and religious;

* To facilitate the implementation of the recommendations of ‘The Green Book’.   Throughout 1997 the National Resource Group provided training programmes for all personnel appointed by dioceses - delegates, deputy delegates, support persons and priest advisors.

1998 - The National Resource Group organised a Consultation Seminar for English-speaking Episcopal Committees dealing with Child Sexual Abuse - representatives of the Episcopal Conferences of eleven countries participated (Dundrum, Co Tipperary 18-21 May).

1999 – Bishops’ Committee on Child Abuse established under the chairmanship of Bishop Eamonn Walsh to liaise with the Government proposed Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Laffoy Commission). Membership of the Committee included representatives from the professions of Psychology, Canon Law, Counselling, Teaching, Clergy and Religious.

2001 - January - The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland were commissioned by the Bishops' Committee on Child Abuse to conduct a research project to examine the impact of clerical child sexual abuse on: (i) victims and their extended families; (ii) perpetrators and their extended families; (iv) colleagues; (v) parishes and the wider community. The results of this extensive study: Time to Listen, were published in December 2003.

2001 - July - The Child Protection Office of the Irish Bishops’ Conference was established and Mr Paul Bailey was appointed as Executive Director. See

2001 - September - The Bishops’ Committee on Child Protection was established under the chairmanship of Bishop Eamonn Walsh and it replaced the Bishops ’ Committee on Child Abuse.

2002 - April - The Bishops’ Conference announce a Nationwide Independent Audit into handling of all complaints of child sexual abuse by diocesan priests or religious in diocesan appointments as far back as 1940.

2002 - July - Judge Gillian Hussey was appointed as chairperson of the Catholic Church Commission on Child Sexual Abuse (Hussey Commission)

2002 - September - Judge Hussey announces the members of her Commission which drawn from the professions of Social Work, Psychology, Law, Law Enforcement, Criminology, and a Social Historian.

2002 - December - Judge Hussey decides to cease the work of her Commission following the announcement by the Minister for Justice for the: “preparation of a scheme for a statutory basis for a new mechanism for investigating into matters of significant and urgent public importance”. It was the Minister’s intention that such a scheme would include the handling of clerical sexual abuse. Thus, Judge Hussey believed her Commission would be duplicating the work of the State.

2003 - June - The Working Group on Child Protection, chaired by management consultant Ms Maureen Lynott, was established by the Bishops’ Conference, Conference of Religious in Ireland (CORI) and the Irish Missionary Union (IMU) to develop a comprehensive and integrated child protection policy for the Irish Catholic Church.   The Working Group had representatives from Social Work, Psychology, Law Enforcement, CORI, the Bishops Committee on Child Protection, Teaching as well as two survivors of clerical and religious sexual abuse.

2003 - August - A set of good practice guidelines entitled Working with Children and Young People in the Catholic Church Community in Ireland were developed by the Bishops’ Child Protection Office in collaboration with its Committee on Child Protection. These guidelines were distributed to all dioceses and religious congregations.

2003 - December - Publication of Time to Listen - Confronting Child Sexual Abuse by Catholic Clergy in Ireland. This report was a milestone in that it was the first occasion internationally in which the Catholic Church had commissioned independent research into clerical child sexual abuse. The study not only assessed the impact of abuse on victims and abusers, but it also examined these effects on their families, colleagues and on wider society. See: (

2004 - The Bishops’ Child Protection Office commences its National Training Initiative in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth. Twenty participants from nine dioceses are being trained as Child Protection Trainers. Following their accreditation in June 2005, they will train Facilitators in their own dioceses to provide information and support in developing safe practice procedures for dealing with young people within parishes.

2005 - January - The Working Group on Child Protection (the Lynott Group) unanimously endorses its final report ‘Our Children, Our Church’. This is a comprehensive and integrated child protection policy for the Irish Catholic Church.

2005 – June - ‘Our Children, Our Church’ was approved and adopted by the Irish Bishops Conference.

2005 – October – The Bishops of Ireland received informal approval from Rome to implement the document ‘Our Children, Our Church’ on an interim basis.

2006 – Following the Publication of Our Children Our Church, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church is established. The role of the National Board is to develop a unified approach to child protection across Ireland. It also serves to advise it’s three sponsoring bodies the Irish Bishop’s Conference, the Conference of Religious of Ireland and the Irish Missionary Union on best practice relating to Child Protection Policies and procedures.

2007 – The National Board establish a Safeguarding Office and appoint their first Chief Executive Officer Ian Elliott. Apart from its advisory function, the Board aims through the development of policies and procedures, to guide all constituent members of the Church, in the direction of best practice in safeguarding children. The Board also monitors best practice in the various parts of the Church, through processes of audit and review.

2009 – The National Safeguarding Office introduces new guidelines “Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland” This document can be downloaded at

[1] This information note has been prepared by the Limerick Diocesan Safeguarding Office. The note refers to the general procedures and is not intended to be referring specifically to the details of any one priest.


What happens a priest when a child protection complaint is made against him?[1]



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