St MacNissi's
Catholic Church

Parish Safeguarding Committee


The establishment of Safeguarding Committees within Down and Connor is in keeping with the recommendations from (1) The Lord Nolan Report "A Programme for Action: 2001” and (2) "Our Children Our Church” by Lynott Group: Draft 2005


Role/functions of the committee


  1. To disseminate the Safeguarding Policies and Procedures within the parish.
  2. To have a general overview of all parish activities that will require to comply with the Down and Connor Safeguarding Policy and Procedures.
  3. To have a general overview of all parish activities that will require to comply with the Down and Connor Safeguarding Policy and Procedures.
    • Child protection (dealing with disclosures or the discovery of child abuse)
    • Best practice in partnership with other parish bodies
    • Recruitment and selection of new staff/volunteers
    • Liaison with Vetting Officer at the Safeguarding Office regarding all issues relating to vetting
  4. To liaise with the Diocesan Designated Officer.
  5. To inform parishioners of the role and function of the parish Child Care Committee.
  6. To ensure that the parish is complying with all requirements of the Safeguarding Policy and procedures.


The following is an overview of the Committee's main function, who the Committee members are, what we have achieved to date and the groups we link in with in the parish and the Diocese.

All parishes in the Diocese of Down and Connor are required to have a Parish Safeguarding Committee, (originally known as Child Care Committee) and our main function is to ensure that the parish implements the policy and procedures of the Diocese of Down and Connor - Best Practice in Safeguarding and Protecting Children and Young People.

This involves working with other relevant groups, committees and organisations in the parish to ensure all volunteers and parish staff are trained in Best Practice procedures and are vetted through Access (NI) before they commence their volunteering role or paid duties

In the case of an organisation or group who are not parish based and who wish to hire any of the parish facilities - they must be able to demonstrate, in written format, they comply with Safeguarding Policies and Procedures and have appropriate insurance for their activities.

To date the Committee has arranged vetting and training for over eighty volunteers in the parish.

On an annual basis the Committee carry out two audits, one of which involves visiting relevant groups/organisations in the parish to ensure best practice is maintained and any relevant information is passed on. In addition to this, a very comprehensive Audit must be completed for the Down and Connor Safeguarding Committee and statutory bodies.

An important element of what we are asked to do is to communicate with you, as parish members, to ensure you know how to access help in relation to child abuse should you need to.

Within this past year we copied the Safeguarding Office leaflet detailing the three steps you may need to take if you are concerned about child abuse, and most importantly- who you should contact. A copy of this information is framed and in a prominent place in the main entrance porch to the church and will shortly be put in the two other entrances. In addition, a framed copy is in the Parish Centre.

It is important to note, that recognising child abuse is not always easy - it will demand professional intervention to investigate and I would like to emphasise, it is not the responsibility of any clergy, staff, volunteer, or Committee member in the parish to decide if an action or behaviour is abuse or not. That is the role of the statutory authorities - police, social services or NSPCC. The Down and Connor Designated Safeguarding officer, who is also a professional social worker, may be contacted as well. The details of how to contact her can be found on the leaflet I mentioned earlier.

The parish safeguarding committee is comprised of six members and includes the Parish priest – Father Forsythe, and the following volunteers,Collette Fitzgerald (chair) Jayne McClenaghan, Mary Gately, Mary O’Boyle, Angela McNickle, Kevin McAuley & Julian Mc Gale.

Patricia McCann also provides a voluntary administrative support role to ensure we meet Data Protection guidelines.

All members have completed specific training to ensure they understand the responsibility of serving on a Parish Safeguarding Committee.

We are also guided and advised in all that we do by the Down and Connor Safeguarding Office which is situated at the Good Shepherd complex on the Ormeau Road in Belfast. The office is manned by a team of professionals who work in partnership with the various statutory bodies, and the National Board for Safeguarding Children based in Maynooth.

A key piece of work this team of professionals are currently developing is a new Safeguarding Policy and Procedures for Vulnerable Adults and as this is being rolled out we will keep you, as a parish, informed.

We also link in with our local Vicariate group which is All Saints, Ballymena, and recently we hosted training for volunteers from the Antrim Safeguarding group.


CURRENT COMMITTEE: Father John Forsythe, Colette Fitzgerald (Chair), Jayne McClenaghan, Mary Gately, Mary O’Boyle, Angela McNickle, Kevin McAuey & Julian Mc Gale. Administrative support: Patricia McCann

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