Alliance Deputy Leader Eileen Bell has called for a better relationship between the Catholic Church and the legal system across Ireland to ensure child sex abuse allegations are dealt with robustly, and that the good name the vast majority of serving priests deserve is not tarnished.
The North Down MLA stated: “As a practising Catholic, my faith in the Church is basic. However, it is clear the nature of the Church’s relationship with the legal system is a major problem which we must deal with urgently and efficiently.
“We must not allow a situation to develop where children are afraid to go near a priest. We should be clear that the vast majority of serving priests have long records of faithful service to the Church and to their parishioners. But people are entitled to ask precisely what the Church is doing, and why the Church alone is being left to manage and monitor Child
“That is why I welcome Bishop Hegarty’s and Bishop Walsh’s announcements, as they start the process of getting the whole story into the open. Only then will we be able to take the robust action required, on both sides of the border, to get this issue resolved so that children and parents can have their faith in Church leaders fully restored.”