Sunday 25 June 2017

Government 'forced' to set up €1.5bn redress scheme for abuse victims, claims congregation

Congregation claims statements made by Minister Bruton were 'immoral'

The scene at Daingean Reformatory School, Co Offaly which was owned by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
The scene at Daingean Reformatory School, Co Offaly which was owned by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A €1.5 billion redress scheme set up for victims of clerical abuse was only established because Ireland's government had no choice, a Catholic congregation has claimed.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, one of the 18 congregations investigated by the Ryan Commission into historical abuse, made the remarks in a lengthy statement published on their website.

It also said the findings in the Ryan commission report were "not immune to challenge" and were "opinions come to by the commission on a basis that would not be sufficient in a court of law".

The statement was published in response to a statement made by Minister for Education Richard Bruton to the Seanad in March.

Minister Bruton said that people were "dismayed" that the congregations have not been sharing the cost of redress equally, and that it is "disappointing the organisations responsible for protecting children, which managed the institutions in which these horrendous acts took place, would apparently place so little value on their responsibility".

The Oblate statement claimed such comments were "immoral" and said how "even before the investigation of abuse by the (Ryan) Commission had got under way, the Government – relying solely on the media exposés – had decided to compensate the protesters with awards fully-funded by the Government. Its hand was being forced by the refusal of victims’ groups, with the support of their legal representatives, to cooperate with an investigation unless such a scheme was put into immediate effect."

It continued: “Both the Government and Ms Justice Mary Laffoy (who chaired the Commission prior to Mr Justice Seán Ryan) had wanted to wait until the investigation was completed.

"This was the logical thing to do perhaps, but events proved the wisdom of the victims’ stand – seven years were to pass before the Commission's investigation was complete."

To date, €1.5 billion has been provided in redress, with the various congregations contributing about 6pc, or €96 million, of that amount. The Government paid the remainder.

The Ryan Report into child abuse was published in 2009 and the Oblate statement further added that there were "legitimate grounds for having serious reservations about the findings, without impugning the central message of the report."

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