Tuesday 16 July 2019

Religious orders are accused of hiding behind law

Breda Heffernan

VICTIMS' groups have accused religious orders of engaging in "aggressive self-preservation" after they suggested they would compensate survivors of abuse directly, instead of revisiting the controversial compensation deal with the State.

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) said survivors did not want the religious orders who had abused them to now be responsible for administering a compensation fund.

The Conference of Religious in Ireland (CORI), which represents the 18 congregations responsible for the abuse of children in industrial schools, put forward the proposal to assuage rising public anger over its refusal to renegotiate the original deal, which left taxpayers footing 90pc of the cost.

Later, a statement issued by the Christian Brothers confirmed they would, in consultation with former residents and other stakeholders, review their resources to see how best they could be applied in reparation for abuses of the past.


The RCNI welcomed the "shift in tone" in the statement from the Christian Brothers. However, it said, "self-preservation" was still evident, with the order in charge of any review and thus controlling the resources.

Fiona Neary, director of the RCNI, said: "Under no circumstances can any office or agency of these institutions be involved in the administration of any such fund.

"Sadly, yet again, we see these institutions employ the legal profession and hide behind so-called legal concerns in order to aggressively protect their self-preservation at any cost."

Christine Buckley, a former resident of the Goldenbridge Industrial School in Dublin, said it was another insult to victims.

The abuse survivor, who founded the group Aislinn, said it was "like a revolving wheel of emotional abuse and blackmail".

"CORI will state in another few weeks that they have given money to survivors but they cannot state how much they have given because they want to protect survivors," she said.

Meanwhile, a joint submission to the Government by a number of support groups called for the repeatedly delayed referendum on the rights of children to be held no later than the second vote on the Lisbon Treaty.

Barnardos, CARI, the Children's Rights Alliance, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, the ISPCC and One in Four, all demanded that there be no summer recess for the Dail while the issue of the referendum was outstanding.

They also said survivors of institutional abuse must be recognised as having an "absolute entitlement" to well-resourced counselling and support services and that national guidelines on child protection be put on a statutory footing.

The groups also proposed the establishment of a single national authority charged with monitoring child protection standards in public and private organisations, as well as church bodies.

"The children sent to industrial schools and reformatories were our 'disappeared', and the way in which they were treated can only be seen as a source of national shame.

"We will compound that shame if there is a failure to act now, to ensure that no child in Ireland can ever be treated in the same way again," they added.

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