Thursday 18 January 2018

Years of stalling indicates State will get nothing from religious orders

Former Education Minister Ruairi Quinns Photo: Tom Burke
Former Education Minister Ruairi Quinns Photo: Tom Burke

John Walshe

Simon Harris is the latest to join the ministerial chorus criticising the "pathetic and paltry'' contribution of 18 religious congregations to the compensation fund for victims of abuse in residential institutions.

He wants the Pope, no less, to intervene and put pressure on the congregations to cough up more money. But I wouldn't hold my breath on them agreeing any time soon to a 50/50 split of the €1.5bn bill, which arises from the work of the commission that investigated the institutions and the report detailing the abuses, as well as the costs of the subsequent redress scheme. The scale was shocking, with truly appalling examples of physical, sexual and psychological abuse meted out to vulnerable young people incarcerated by the courts or through tragic family circumstances.

There is talk of putting moral pressure on the religious but that has been applied on an ongoing basis by the Department of Education and by Ruairi Quinn, who inherited the problem when he took up office in that department in March 2011. There was no shortage of meetings and correspondence at which the same moral argument was used, but to little or no avail.

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