Orders must split bill with State -- CORI chief
Published 28/05/2009 | 00:00
THE public face of CORI last night urged religious orders to pay 50pc of the multi-million indemnity deal agreed with the Government to compensate victims.
Fr Sean Healy said the religious authorities who abused children should be pursued and prosecuted.
Breaking his silence for the first time since the Ryan report was published seven days ago, the director of Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI) Justice, Fr Healy, urged the 18 congregations to boost their compensation contributions and find a way to split the indemnity deal 50:50 with the State.
All 18 religious orders should re-enter negotiations with the Government and allow an audit of all their resources and properties to take place, he said.
The CORI Justice spokesman has been a high-profile media campaigner in the annual budgets and ongoing social partnership talks on behalf of 138 congregations. However, he remained silent on the Ryan report until yesterday's statement to the Oireachtas Committee on Social and Family Affairs.
The "crimes", revealed in the Ryan report, were "stomach-churning" and "sickening", Fr Healy said after the committee meeting.
"Those crimes should all have been prosecuted at the time. I don't believe that anyone who committed a criminal offence should be let off the hook," he said. "No criminals should be shielded. . . All criminals should be brought to justice and there is a long litany of crimes reported and outlined in some detail in the Ryan report."
All options must be on the negotiating table including the possibility of making a further "much larger contribution" to meet the bill for redress and to assist the victims.
Currently, the State is paying 10 times the amount of the religious orders, despite original plans to ensure the Church and State shared the €1bn bill equally. However, the CORI director said the religious orders needed to reopen the deal.
Following calls from Labour's Pat Rabbitte for CORI to be withdrawn from social partnership talks until it agrees to re-open the indemnity deal, Fr Healy said Labour had not called for the exclusion of IBEC which represented the banks and financial institutions where there had been "huge fraud".
Explaining his silence on the Ryan report for the last seven days, Fr Healy said he had wanted the 18 congregations to comment first before he responded.
However, he acknowledged the pace of their response had been hurtful to victims. Some of the responses of the congregations had also failed to reflect the scale of the report's findings. Those 18 congregations have almost "unforgivably abused" the trust of many Irish people, he said.
Putting distance between himself and CORI "central" which has been responding to the report since last week, Fr Healy said he had formed his personal views seven days ago but delayed making them public.
"An attitude of humility coupled with a protracted exercise in restitution is what is now required of the religious congregations if the victims, their children and the Irish people in general are ever to begin to forgive the congregations for their inexcusable betrayal of trust," he said.
However, Labour's Roisin Shortall queried how the religious orders would agree to further contributions when they have been so slow to hand over the 63 properties agreed to in the 2002 indemnity deal.
"They haven't kept their side of the bargain," Ms Shortall said.