Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Catholic Church and children in care

A Scottish sheriff's inquiry in Paisley yesterday found that the deaths of two teenage girls who committed suicide jumping off a bridge could have been prevented if there had been more staff on duty at the care home where they lived and safety precautions had been taken.

Niamh Lafferty and Georgia Rowe died in October 2009 after absconding from the Good Shepherd unit in Bishopton, Renfrewshire. The home, now closed, was originally run by nuns before being taken over by a charity called the Cora Foundation, described by the Catholic Media Service at the time as "an Agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland." The Good Shepherd home has since been the subject of allegations of physical abuse of the teenage girls sent there.

That the care of children has been transferred from local authorities to unelected and unacountable mangement boards is alarming enough — one of the trustees at the Good Shepherd home, ex-Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie has dismissed the scandal, remarking "Girls are going to abscond. That is just one of the predictable consequences of the challenged girls who go to the centre and the environment which the centre has to manage." —  but for them to be placed in the hands of the Catholic Church given its appalling record in this area is a sick joke.

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