National Child Safeguarding Policy

Police Vetting System

Disclosure of Information

Data Protection (GDPR)

Children First Act, 2015

What are the legal requirements?

A provider of a relevant service shall ensure, as far as practicable, that each child availing of the service from the provider is safe from harm while availing of that service. (Section 10)

The main implications of the Act for those providing services to minors (such as the Prelature) are:

A. Every legal or natural person in the Republic of Ireland who is 

B. There is a legal obligation on specified Mandated Persons to report safeguarding concerns received by them in the course of their work. This is known as mandatory reporting.

What is a relevant service?

A relevant service means any work or activity specified in Schedule 1 of the Act. The relevant provision for the purposes of the apostolates of the Prelature is specified in No. 7 of that Schedule:

"Any work or activity as a minister or priest or any other person engaged in the advancement of any religious beliefs which would or could bring that minister, priest or other person, as the case may be, into contact with a child."

Note: This definition is similar to but broader in scope than the equivalent definition in Section 7 of Part 1 of Schedule I of the National Vetting Bureau Act.

Who is a provider?

A provider of a relevant service must have at least one person employed or engaged by him/her in the provision of that service. 

A woman giving private piano lessons to children is providing a “relevant service,” but, as a sole practitioner, is not a “provider” as defined in Part II of the Act. Likewise, a person who provides a relevant service on behalf of another (whether as employee or volunteer) is not a provider for the purposes of Part II of the Act. 

A youth club which is owned by and responsible to a legal entity is not a “provider”, but is an agent of that legal entity. On the other hand, a club which is affiliated to a group of clubs, but not legally owned by that group or by another entity, is a provider in its own right. 

Application to the Prelature

The Prelature in Ireland is a provider of a relevant service, in that it is responsible for persons who are engaged in the advancement of any religious beliefs to minors, as well as to adults.

What is a Child Safeguarding Statement?

A Child Safeguarding Statement is a written statement that specifies the relevant service being provided and the principles and procedures to be observed to ensure, as far as practicable, that a child availing of that service is safe from harm. It also includes an assessment of risk of harm to a child while availing of that service and specifies the procedures in place to manage any identified risks.

Tusla have also provided a visual presentation to the NBSCCCI outlining the requirements of the Children First Act 2015 regarding the Child Safeguarding Statement and the role of the Compliance Unit.

Section 11 of the Act requires providers of a relevant service to assess risks, prepare a Child Safeguarding Statement, circulate it to all staff, display it [“in a prominent place where the relevant service concerned relates or is provided, or both, as may be appropriate”] and make it available on request to parents, guardians, Tusla and members of the public.

The main elements of the Child Safeguarding Statement are:

1.       A risk assessment of the relevant services

2.       The specific procedures in place to manage or provide for:

a.       The risks identified

b.       Allegations of breaches of due conduct

c.       Safe recruitment of personnel

d.       Information and training of staff

e.       Reporting concerns

3.        List of Mandated Persons

4.       Appointing Relevant Person.

Application to the Prelature

The current Statement for the Prelature in Ireland is published on the website of Opus Dei and in the relevant centres and can be downloaded in pdf format from here. See also Appendix VI of the Local Safeguarding Policy for Ireland.

Who are Mandated Persons?

Mandated Persons are those who, in the course of their professional work, have ongoing contact with children and / or families and who are in a key position to protect children from harm. They include teachers, doctors, nurses, priests, Gardaí, foster carers, some child safeguarding personnel, youth workers and people in several other professions. See the complete list in Schedule 2 of the Act.

All such persons are, in principle, required to report any knowledge they might acquire in the course of their specified employment or profession to Tusla, the Child & Family Agency (see Section 14 of the Act for details and exemptions). This is known as mandatory reporting.

Application to the Prelature

"member of the clergy (howsoever described) or pastoral care worker (howsoever described) of a church or other religious community". 

"safeguarding officer, child protection officer or other person (howsoever described) who is employed for the purpose of performing the child welfare and protection function of religious, sporting, recreational, cultural, educational and other bodies and organisations offering services to children."

"person responsible for the care or management of a youth work service within the meaning of section 2 of the Youth Work Act 2001"

[youth work service:a service which, directly or indirectly, assists in the provision of youth work", that is "a planned programme of education designed for the purpose of aiding and enhancing the personal and social development of young persons through their voluntary participation, and which is (a) complementary to their formal, academic or vocational education and training; and (b) provided primarily by voluntary youth work organisations"].