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Archbishop praised for ‘quiet resolve to do what was right’

Archbishop praised for ‘quiet resolve to do what was right’

Áine Ryan

MAYO Rape Crisis Centre (MRCC) has praised the Archdiocese of Tuam for always being ‘efficient, careful and considerate‘ of victims of sexual abuse. This echoes the view of the National Board for Safeguarding Children, whose CEO, Ian Elliott, has praised Archbishop Michael Neary for his ‘quiet resolve to do what was right’.
Welcoming last week’s report on a diocesan audit by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, Ms Ruth McNeely of MRCC said the response of the diocese had been proactive and supportive when cases of clerical abuse were reported to the centre’s staff. 
“It does not ever take away from the fact that it can take most people years to speak about what has happened to them and indeed the vast majority of victims keep their experience to themselves. The reporting procedure itself can be daunting whether to religious or civil authorities.
“We will continue to offer support, information and counselling to those who seek our service but note with some sadness that for the many people the effects of such a betrayal can be profound and lifelong,” Ms McNeely said.
Responding to the report, Archbishop Michael Neary said he was very happy that Ian Elliott, the CEO of the National Board, had ‘adjudicated so positively’ on how such issues were being addressed in the diocese.  However, he reiterated his past apology to victims and urged anyone who had been abused to come forward and report the matter to the archdiocese and the statutory authorities.
Archbishop Neary stated; “I appointed an Advisory Panel, men and women, professional and highly qualified lay people, religious and priests from whom I have taken advice in dealing with cases of abuse. Conscious of the urgency and centrality of safeguarding children the Safeguarding Committee has worked diligently and voluntarily to ensure that the safest possible environment is created for children in the Catholic Church in our Archdiocese.”

He said that foremost in his thoughts were ‘the survivors of child sexual abuse and their families, the harm and the hurt which they have experienced and the courage which they displayed in telling their story’. He noted there was now a Child Safeguarding Representative in each parish.

Tuam audit
THE Audit into the response to clerical sexual abuse allegation in the Archdiocese of Tuam praised Archbishop Neary’s ‘quiet resolve to do what was right’. The report says that ‘serious harm was done to children by a few priests’ in the archdiocese but that since Dr Neary’s installation in 1995 he had taken such allegations seriously, even though he met resistance when he requested that one priest stand aside from his public ministry.
The audit recorded 26 allegations made against 18 priests, dating back to 1975. In the interim, ten of these priests have died, eight have left the priesthood or are out of ministry and there have been two convictions.
It reported that five priests, who are not attached to the archdiocese, but who reside in it, are the subjects of allegations arising from past ministries. Moreover, it revealed that a disproportionate number of allegations were made against priests who worked in a junior seminary (also a secondary school).
The audit  states that before 1995, that there was a ‘defensive and internally focused‘ ethos, exercised by Dr Neary’s predecessors, regarding such allegations. It also notes there is now a very positive relationship between the archdiocese and the HSE (Health Service Executive).  
It makes eight procedural recommendations including written restrictions and monitoring guidelines to be imposed on a priest removed from public ministry.
The Archdiocese of Tuam stretches from Achill Island to areas in Counties Galway and Roscommon and is geographically the largest on the island. 
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