Thursday 18 July 2019

Orders must pay more to victims -- Cowen

Fionnan Sheahan and ine Kerr

Taoiseach Brian Cowen last night told the religious orders they will have to make a "substantial additional contribution" to compensate institutional abuse victims.

Mr Cowen also said the Government would consider looking at the statute of limitations to allow further prosecutions against abusers.

In the continuing fallout from the publication of the Ryan Commission report, Mr Cowen said the Government intended to invite the congregations to a meeting to discuss what further steps they plan to take to address victims' needs.

The Cabinet last night agreed to implement all of the recommendations contained in the report and develop a plan for their implementation.

"It is clear that the report has found a much more systemic volume of abuse in Institutions than was previously known or accepted by the Orders. The Government has therefore decided to call on the relevant congregations to provide a substantial additional contribution in view of the moral responsibility they continue to hold in these matters," he said.

Redress

Mr Cowen said the additional contributions would go both into the redress fund for victims, largely paid for by the taxpayer, as well as a trust to provide services for victims.

Acknowledging the Christian Brothers' move to give additional funds, Mr Cowen said the remaining religious orders also needed to contribute more.

The Taoiseach reiterated the apology to those abused issued by his predecessor Bertie Ahern, 10 years ago.

"It is deeply shameful for all Irish people that this happened in our country and that for so long it was not confronted.

"The failure of society in the treatment of children is laid bare in this report and it is horrendous. These children were placed in institutions by the State and the State had a duty of care to them. The victims were betrayed by the State and we must ensure that this can never, ever, happen again," he said.

Mr Cowen said those responsible for such crimes -- no matter how long ago -- must also "face the full rigours of the law".

Minister for Children Barry Andrews will now draw up a report by July on how the Government plans to implement the report's recommendations, including a memorial.

Also yesterday, Mr Cowen said legal advice indicated the compensation deal negotiations can't be re-opened, but this does not hinder the religious orders from increasing their level of contributions.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny offered the hand of unity to Mr Cowen, urging the Government to draft a motion, to be adopted by all political parties, to reflect the widespread outrage at the contents of the report.

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