Abuse watchdog denies key report omissions

National Board breaks silence on controversy


The independent watchdog monitoring the Church’s compliance with child protection guidelines has rejected suggestions that a report into the handling of abuse omitted relevant information.

Earlier this month, Ian Elliott, former head of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) challenged findings of a child protection audit in Down and Connor and said he is considering a legal action against Bishop Noel Treanor. In an exclusive statement to The Irish Catholic this week, the board also insisted that it has “attempted to clarify our position on this matter with Mr Elliott through correspondence”. However, it claimed that as The Irish Catholicwent to press, “Mr Elliott has not yet responded to our correspondence with him”.

Published in December, the audit found that the diocese had produced an “excellent result” in fully meeting 46 of the 48 criteria for protecting children, with the two other standards partially met. The audit was led by Mr Elliott over four days in the diocese last May.

However, as published, Mr Elliott said, the findings “do not reflect the findings from the fieldwork”.

Mr Elliott said earlier this month he was “deeply concerned” at what he described as “attempts by the diocese to attribute that review to me”.

At the time the National Board said it was seeking legal advice and would make no further comment. However, the body, from which Mr Elliott retired in June 2013, has now broken its silence.

The statement says the NBSCCC categorically denies any suggestion that its final report “omitted relevant matters from the audit process as per statements attributed to Mr Ian Elliott and recently reported in various media”.


“Before his retirement on June 30, 2013 Mr Elliott participated in field work as part of the audit process and prepared a first draft report which reflected very positively on the Diocese of Down and Connor. While preserving its tone, there was a need to augment it with work which had to be undertaken after Mr Elliott’s retirement and to stress test the contents in order to complete the review in line with the methodology established by the board”.

The NBSCCC said there were two comments in Mr Elliott’s report which were not detailed in the final report. The first of these related to relationship issues between the diocese and the board – which in the assessment of the review team could not be reflected in the final report as such did not fall within the terms of reference.

The second comment related to the management of a particular case which the reviewers could not include.

According to the statement: “In Mr Elliott’s report he referenced abuse of three men by an unspecified priest, he did not make any reference to child abuse in the context of the particular priest involved.

“Given that adult abuse does not fall within the terms of reference of the work of the board or the review process and there were no supporting data whatsoever provided by Mr Elliott in relation to this comment, the particular reference to the priest was removed,” the board claimed.

The NBSCCC said it “owes it to the thousands of volunteers throughout the dioceses and religious congregations who day in and day out seek assiduously to make the Church a safer place for children, to the lay faithful and wider society and most particularly to those who have suffered abuse – to assure them all that the professionalism and integrity we have always espoused and which Mr Elliott, in his own time, did so much to create, instil and work for, have not been compromised in any way.”

Mr Elliott was unavailable for comment when contacted by The Irish Catholic.