A LETTER calling on the Vatican to provide a €1bn compensation package for survivors of clerical child abuse in Ireland is to be hand delivered to Pope Benedict by Cardinal Sean Brady, when the Irish bishops hold summit talks with the Pontiff.
The letter from Irish survivors will also contain a request for a meeting with the Holy Father during his visit to England in September.
The breakthrough came at private talks in St Patrick's College, Maynooth, yesterday involving four survivors' groups, Cardinal Brady and bishops.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, who on Sunday told the Irish Independent that he was engaged in his own consultations with survivors abused by diocesan priests, did not attend the Maynooth meeting because of other engagements.
But Dr Martin was present at the first meeting last December in Maynooth between the four groups representing survivors of abuse in residential institutions run by religious orders, and has voiced his support for a bigger compensation deal.
A statement after yesterday's meeting said that four bishops -- Colm O'Reilly of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, John McAreavey of Dromore, John Buckley of Cork and John Fleming of Killala -- would liaise with the survivors' representatives.
Attending the Maynooth talks were representatives of the Alliance Support Group, Irish SOCA, and the Right to Peace and Right of Place groups.
The statement added that the talks were part of a process of informing the bishops of the views of survivors in their preparations for their summit in the Vatican next Monday and Tuesday with Pope Benedict.
Bishop McAreavey said the meeting was constructive and focused on the ongoing concerns of survivors.
"We intend to relay these concerns to Pope Benedict, both verbally and in the form of written submissions, which were presented to us by survivors and which directly represent their views," added Bishop McAreavey, a former professor of Canon Law.
Michael O'Brien, of the Right to Peace support group, said it was now time for the Vatican and the religious orders to match the money paid by the Irish State. The orders paid just €128m of the total compensation bill of €1.2bn.
"He (the Pope) must come up with a substantial amount of money to help the victims of the institutions," added Mr O' Brien. "The Vatican is as much to blame because the religious orders were under their auspices."
Tom Hayes, secretary of the Alliance Support Group and a former inmate of St Joseph's Industrial School in Glin, Co Limerick, said survivors wanted a face-to-face meeting with the Pope in September.
"We will be pointing out that when he visited America, he met with some of the victims," Mr Hayes added. "Although he met them in private, it was a gesture universally well received and we hope he will do the same when he visits England."