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Catholic Church in north won't ape Dublin's ban on photographs

By Christopher Woodhouse

Published 05/05/2015

The Dublin Archdiocese has enacted a total ban on photographs during church services, including confirmations, baptisms and weddings, to stop pictures falling into the hands of potential abusers
The Dublin Archdiocese has enacted a total ban on photographs during church services, including confirmations, baptisms and weddings, to stop pictures falling into the hands of potential abusers

A ban on photography at Catholic confirmation services in Dublin aimed at stopping images of children ending up in the hands of abusers is unlikely to be extended to Northern Ireland.

The Dublin Archdiocese has enacted a total ban on photographs during church services, including confirmations, baptisms and weddings, to stop pictures falling into the hands of potential abusers.

However, three dioceses in Northern Ireland have told the Belfast Telegraph they are not likely to follow the Dublin example.

"The priority is for the safeguarding of children with the determination and consent of parents," said Fr Eddie McGee, of the Diocese of Down and Connor, which covers Belfast and counties Antrim and Down.

"The blanket ban on photography is not the case within our diocese, there have been some photographs taken within churches, with the consent of parents, but with larger ceremonies that becomes more difficult."

He added: "The primacy is for the protection of children, that must guide our practice."

Each Catholic diocese independently determines how it can best meet the Safeguarding Standards issued in 2008 by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCC)

Under the NBSCCC guidelines each diocese must have robust child protection policies which are implemented consistently.

The Clogher Diocese, which covers parts of Fermanagh and Tyrone, said that although its safeguarding practices are always under review it was unlikely to introduce a blanket ban on photography.

"Our safeguards are always under review and at this moment a blanket ban is perhaps at one extreme," said Patricia Carville, of the Diocese of Clogher office for safeguarding children.

"We discourage photography during the service. However, we work with parents and schools and we come to some arrangement which safeguards the children, which is fundamental."

She added: "Photographs and video should not be taken during the confirmation service. It should be afterwards when parents and children are outside the church.

"Personally I don't think it's the right place to take a video but I certainly wouldn't go to the extreme of a blanket ban."

The Derry Diocese also said it would not adopt similar rules to Dublin.

"We are not following the example of Dublin, as of yet," said Fr Michael Canny.

"The diocese is happy with the current situation which involves parental consent, with the church working with the schools."

Annette O'Donnell, spokeswoman for the Dublin Archdiocese, said its ban had a two-fold objective.

"One is for child protection reasons, the other is that it would be a huge distraction for the religious ceremony taking place," she said.

"We can't have a situation whereby somebody is standing up taking photographs during Mass, people might be taking pictures of children without parental consent."

Background

Each Catholic diocese has been directed to have specific guidelines governing the filming and photography of children while they are on Church grounds. The rules derive from the 'safeguarding standards' guidelines introduced by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCC) in 2008. These stipulate that each diocese must have robust child protection policies in place, which are "implemented consistently". It was established in response to the clerical abuse scandals as a way of ensuring that a set of standards were put in place.

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