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Final bill far higher than first anticipated

THE Residential Institutions Redress Scheme was set up in 2002 in response to revelations about abuse suffered by children living in industrial schools, reformatories and other institutions run on behalf of the State by Catholic priests, brothers and nuns up to 50 years and more earlier.

The scale of the abuse was graphically outlined in the RTE documentary 'States of Fear' in 1999. The scheme awarded compensation based on abuse and injuries suffered, emotional damage, loss of employment and other opportunities, and medical, psychiatric and legal expenses. Almost 17,000 claims were lodged with the scheme, which has now closed. Up to the end of February, there were 14,000 awards, while 943 have been refused. There are 1,902 late applications still being considered.

Awards range from below €50,000 to €300,500 and the average value is €62,860. About half of claimants have received awards valued between €50,000-€100,000.

Under a 2002 agreement, 18 religious congregations involved in running various institutions agreed to contribute €128m to the cost of the scheme.

At that time, the government was not expecting the final bill to rise to what it is today.

The €128m was made up of cash and property offers, and about €102m of that has been handed over. The remaining €26m relates to property. The government also set up the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse under Judge Sean Ryan, which ran for about 10 years, hearing testimony from about 3,000 people, before it reported in 2009.

Arising from the Ryan Report, the government sought to bring the total contribution of religious orders up to €680m, to cover half the then estimated cost of €1.36bn.

The religious orders, which never agreed the principle of a 50:50 shareout, upped their contribution offer by €349m. This brought their total pledge up to €476m, about €200m short of the Government's target.

The €349m was made up of €113m in cash, mainly for the statutory fund, the legal basis for which was approved by Cabinet this week, and €236m in property.

The Government has received €21.5m of the €113m cash pledge, although the orders remain committed to paying the full amount, possibly over a longer timescale than originally envisaged. None of the €235m property side of that pledge has been realised. The final cost is now estimated at €1.5bn, which raises the value of the contribution the Government is seeking from the orders to €750m.

As well as awards and costs associated with the redress scheme, other elements in the €1.5bn bill include the cost of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

Irish Independent