Abuse watchdog director quit before investigation into order

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The Irish Examiner

By Claire O’Sullivan

Monday, September 19, 2011

CORI’S representative on the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) resigned as a director of the board just days before the watchdog began investigating his own order’s implementation of child protection guidelines.

Professor David Smith is also the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart’s child protection delegate and is the priest charged with overseeing best practice in the area.

Last month, the NBSCCC began an investigation into that order’s handling of clerical sex abuse complaints. Several weeks later, the gardaí and HSE announced that they were to investigate allegations of past sexual and physical abuse at the former boarding school, Carrignavar College, which was run by the Sacred Heart Missionaries.

Prof Smith sat on the NBSCCC for two years before resigning on July 21. Last night, an NBSCCC spokesman said no reason was given for his resignation and they could “not confirm or deny” that the resignation was linked to the current investigation and a possible conflict of interest.

Allegations of widespread sexual and physical abuse at Carrignavar first came to light at the end of July when Fianna Fáil senator Mark Daly attacked the order for its failure to properly monitor a former school principal who was on restricted ministry, having been accused of seven counts of child sex abuse.

The priest was regularly flying abroad without supervision or permission.

Yesterday, Mr Daly said: “I would have been in communication with Professor Smith about my concerns for up to a year before I raised the issue in the Seanad.

“I had raised my concerns that the necessary restrictions were not being adhered to. I was pointing out serious current breaches of Church protection guidelines in his own order and, at the same time, he was sitting on the board charged with ensuring best practice across the wider Church.”

In late July, the Seanad was told that former Carrignavar principal Fr Donnacha Mac Cárthaigh, also a former selector with the Cork minor football team, was regularly travelling out of the country despite being on restricted ministry.

The order had settled two civil cases after former pupils alleged sexual abuse. Prof Smith was unavailable for comment yesterday.

 

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