Thursday 14 November 2019

Government will pursue religious orders over €1.46bn victims compensation

Ruairi Quinn said the government is 'disappointed that the congregations have not agreed to a 50:50 share of the very considerable cost for redress'
Ruairi Quinn said the government is 'disappointed that the congregations have not agreed to a 50:50 share of the very considerable cost for redress'

The Government has vowed to pursue religious orders for half the €1.46 billion cost of compensating their victims.

The congregations which were responsible for horrific child abuse in schools, orphanages, borstals and other institutions will now be under deepening pressure to stump up the €250 million shortfall.

Four orders have already indicated they are willing to consider transferring more school buildings and other educational infrastructure on top of what has been offered.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said some properties will be used in the public and voluntary sectors and others sold with the proceeds used to pay for support services for survivors.

"The Government is obviously disappointed that the congregations have not agreed to a 50:50 share of the very considerable cost for redress," Mr Quinn said.

"Today's decision represents the most pragmatic way to maximise the level of contributions to be made by the congregations and the management bodies so that the taxpayer does not bear an unreasonable burden of the costs."

Eighteen religious orders were identified by the Ryan inquiry over the decades of abuse suffered by youngsters.

The final compensation costs includes €1.25 billion on the redress scheme and associated litigation and €88.6m for the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

Another €110m has been spent on the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund; 10m euro on the Faoiseamh Counselling service; and €12.7m to educate former residents.

The congregations of priests and nuns initially offered just €128m euro in cash, property and counselling services as part of a controversial indemnity deal dating back to 2002. Only €106m of this was ever realised.

This offer was increased in 2009 to €348.5 million after the Ryan report called for the 50:50 split between state and church.

A cash offer of €113m  was boosted by property which the orders valued at €235.5 million.

But only €70m  has been realised - €68m of the cash and just € 2m euro of the property.

The Government complained at the time that the State would only make use of a quarter of the properties offered - 12 sites, valued at €60m.

It had been looking at taking ownership of schools, nursing homes, playing fields and land to make up the shortfall.

The offers of property included 49 Christian Brothers' playing fields; Presentation Sisters' St Bernard's Group Home, Fethard, Tipperary; Sisters of Our Lady of Charity childcare facility at Gracepark Rd, Drumcondra, Dublin; and Sisters of St Clare primary school, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan.

The Sisters of Mercy offered several schools: St Joseph's VEC College, Carrick on Suir; the Adult Education Centre, Waterford; land at Convent Road, Cahir; Seamount Convent and College, Kinvara, Galway; Scoil Mhuire Secondary and Mercy Primary School, Ennistymon, Clare; and the Old Primary School and Hall, Trim, Meath.

The order also put forward the McAuley Centre, Kells, Meath; Beaumont Convalescent Home and grounds, north Dublin; 33 acres at the National Rehabilitation Hospital Dun Laoghaire; and St Anne's Lenaboy Castle, Taylor's Hill, Galway.

The Government said it will propose long-term option on further Sisters of Mercy properties including two convents in Cork, two primary schools in Mayo, and schools in Longford, Leitrim and Meath.

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