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The National Board

Role of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland incorporating the National Office for Safeguarding Children (collectively the National Board) was established in 2006 to provide best practice advice and to monitor the safeguarding of children in the Catholic Church in Ireland.

 The National Board has 3 functions:

  1. Advice and Support on all aspects of child safeguarding case management within the Catholic Church in Ireland
  2. Development of policy, procedures and practice on all aspects of child safeguarding within the Catholic Church in Ireland
  3. Monitor child safeguarding practice of constituent members within the Catholic Church in Ireland

Mr Garrett Sheehan

Chairperson / National Board Director

Garrett Sheehan Chair - is a former judge of the Irish Court of Appeal from 2014 until 2017. Prior to his appointment to the Court of Appeal, he was a judge of the Irish High Court from 2007. 

He was educated at Gonzaga College, University College Dublin and the Law Society of Ireland. He was enrolled as a solicitor in 1969. He is a bencher of the King's Inns.

He retired from the bench in 2017. On 9 December 2020, he was appointed by President Michael D. Higgins to the position of Chairperson of the Standards in Public Office Commission. 

He became Chair in January 2022. 

Sr. Colette Stevenson

National Board Director
Colette has been involved in child protection work within the Church since 1995, when she became Director of the C.O.R.I child protection office. Previously she worked as a teacher and later in retreat work. She is a qualified marriage and family therapist. She retired from the National Board as Director of Professional Standards.

Mrs Gillian McGrath

National Board Director

Gillian has a background in education and is currently the CEO of the Catholic Education Partnership, due to retire this spring, and a member of the Board of the Education Authority, Northern Ireland.

She was formerly the Director of Education in the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) and prior to that she served as a primary school principal and was employed by the Education and Training Inspectorate as an inspector of schools in all sectors and phases.

 Gillian currently works as an independent education adviser.

Ms Phil O'Laoide

National Board Director

Phil is a former solicitor and whilst retired from the legal profession she currently sits on interview boards for the Public Appointments Commission and the Legal Aid Board.

Ms. Marie Kennedy

National Board Director

Has a background in social work and has extensive experience in child protection and welfare, with a post graduate diploma in child protection and an MSc in Health Services Management. Through a range of important assignments provides significant and extensive experience in all aspects of child care management. Joined the Board in 2008.

Dr. Keith Holmes

National Board Director

A Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, based in the Lucena Clinic in Rathgar, Dublin 6, where he is Lead Clinician and Chair of the Medical Board. He is a former Chair of the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the College of Psychiatry of Ireland.

Mr. Jim O’Higgins

National Board Director

Is a retired solicitor and accredited mediator.  He was founder member and co-designer of the state Family Mediation Service.  He served as honorary secretary and Board member of Cheeverstown, a service for the intellectually challenged.  He chaired the Advisory Panel on child abuse for the Ferns Diocese for eight years.  He is a former Chairperson of the Peter McVerry Trust and of the Board of two national schools in a disadvantaged area in Dublin’s North City.  He sits on the board of Alliance Francaise.    He joined the Board in 2013

Sr. Nuala O'Gorman

National Board Director
Sr Nuala O'Gorman is a Sister of Mercy of the Southern Province of the Congregation, a retired Secondary Teacher. She has served as Principal of the school, Chairperson of Board of Management and was a member of the Provincial Team in the Province. She was a member of the Steering Group in the Diocese of Cloyne when Child Safeguarding policies were being established and served as a member of the Child Safeguarding Committee in that Diocese for a number of years, drafting policies with same. She is currently one of the Victim Support Persons for the Diocese. She joined the Board in September 2017

Fr Martin Whelan

 National Board Director
Fr Martin is a priest of Galway Diocese, and a canon lawyer.  He was ordained in 2009 and has served as the Galway Diocesan Secretary since 2010.  In addition to his administrative duties within the diocese, Fr Martin is curate at Galway Cathedral and chaplain to St Mary's College.  Fr Martin has also served as a canon lawyer with the Galway Marriage Tribunal.

Safeguarding Children

National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland
New House, Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co.Kildare
01 505 3124
01 505 3026

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