Belfast Telegraph

Child protection law to be boosted

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has said stricter laws are needed to protect children, following the final chapter of a report into the Catholic Church's mishandling of allegations of clerical child sex abuse.

He hopes to publish a reformed Criminal Justice Bill in the New Year that deals with withholding information on crimes against children and the vulnerable.

"The publication this afternoon of the redacted portions of the Cloyne Report yet again details the failure of the Church to comply with its own child abuse guidelines and its failure to ensure that allegations of abuse when first received were brought to the notice of An Garda Siochana," said Mr Shatter.

"The litany of allegations made and the failure to appropriately report cases of abuse reinforces the need to enact a statutory measure for the protection of children in the future."

He added: "I welcome the fact that we are able today to complete publication of the Cloyne Report and reiterate the Government's commitment to take all necessary action to ensure children are properly protected."

Chapter nine of the Cloyne Report, which was previously redacted for fear it might prejudice ongoing criminal court proceedings, has been published.

It outlined how former Bishop John Magee did not adequately deal with complaints in his Co Cork diocese against a cleric identified as Fr Ronat.

The bulk of the Cloyne Report, published in July, found that one-time Vatican aide Bishop Magee had deliberately misled authorities and failed to report clerical abuse allegations as recently as three years ago.

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said she was deeply disturbed by the findings of chapter nine, which were withheld from the report's initial publication in July.

She said the the handling of child abuse allegations must not be discretionary. "There is no choice, no exception," said Ms Fitzgerald. "All allegations must be reported so that the allegation itself is investigated and any potential risk to other children is assessed."

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