Ireland's Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn.

Ireland announces more abuse compensation funded by religious orders

By  Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service
  • April 18, 2012

DUBLIN - Some 15,000 former residents of state-funded, church-run institutions in Ireland will be able to apply for further compensation for abuse they suffered, the government announced April 17.

The new compensation fund will be financed from the cash contributions of up to $144 million (110 million euros) offered by the 18 religious congregations involved in running the institutions. The government has already paid out nearly $1.8 billion.

To date, contributions of $27.6 million have been received from the congregations toward the fund. This is in addition to some 127 million euros that religions congregations contributed to a 2002 deal under which the government committed to indemnify the orders from further claims.

The Ryan Commission, a judicial inquiry into the institutions, reported in 2009 that physical abuse was widespread and sexual abuse was endemic in many institutions for boys run by members of religious congregations.

Following the publication of the commission's report, it emerged that compensation to former residents and legal fees had climbed to almost $1.8 billion; pressure mounted on the religious congregations to contribute more than the 127 million euros agreed upon in 2002. The government insisted that the orders should contribute 50 percent of the total cost, or $893 million, but the religious orders said they cannot contribute that amount. However, by the time they add in property they have transferred to the government with money they have paid, they will have committed nearly $625 million to the overall cost of redress.

In announcing the compensation fund April 17, the government also repeated a call to religious orders to hand over their schools to the government as partial payment for abuse compensation.

"I am continuing to pursue the 50-50 division with the management bodies involved and have proposed the transfer of school infrastructure to the state for the benefit of the taxpayer as one mechanism to allow those involved the opportunity to shoulder their share of the costs," said Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn.

He said he hoped "that this new fund will provide ongoing support to those who suffered as children in residential care in state-supervised institutions."

"We have let these people down in the past. I am determined that we will not fail them again," he said.

There was no immediate reaction from the 18 congregations concerned.

Last year, the Irish bishops' conference and the Conference of Religious of Ireland, which represents 136 religious congregations, agreed to an additional $13.1 million toward the funding of counseling and support services for victims of clerical abuse. They already have spent $26.2 million on these services in the past 14 years.

The church in Ireland has been struggling to come to terms with abuse after two separate judicial reports uncovered mishandling of abuse going back to the 1950. Four Irish bishops have resigned in the past decade over claims they had failed to tackle abuse.

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